Preview: Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial

Joseph O'Brien

Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes (Group 3)

The weather played havoc with the field for the Derby Trial and that means only four will go to post today. Ballysax winner Success Days is the favouite to land the race in these conditions. The Jeremy son has two impressive victories to his name, both achieved in similar conditions and the form of those races looks really strong as it has produced some good NTO winners.

Closest pursuer should be Dermot Weld’s Summaya who beat Hans Holbein in a 10f maiden on heavy ground earlier this year. He was also only half a lengths behind Diamondsandrubies last month when fourth in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.

While Carbon Dating looks out of his depth in this field, the only remaining Aiden O’Brien inmate Cradle Mountain can’t be that easily discounted. He won a Navan maiden over 1m a fortnight ago, showing guts while crying our for further. He beat the clear favourite who showed smart form in the past when runner-up behind Hans Holbein.

Cradle Mountain doesn’t enjoy the benefit of the 7lb allowance of jockey Donnacha O’Brien today, but with the step up to 10f sure to suit and the ground probably not much of an issue, he’s bound to improve. He looks a mad price in this four runner affair in my book.

Cradle Mountain @ 16/1 William Hill – 5 pts Win

Fire Ship can sail to Group 3 glory at Leopardstown!


2.40 Leopardstown: Amethyst Stakes (Group 3)

If you have ever seen a more open looking Group 3 with only seven runners entered… tell me, because I haven’t! We have heavy ground at Leopardstown after tons of rain throughout the week and a quick glimpse out of my kitchen window here in Dublin says more dark rain clouds are on its way.

Former Group 3 winner Sruthan is currently trading as the 3/1 favourite. He managed to finish fourth in the Gladness Stakes last month. Not sure if this test here today is the right on for him. He’s a 7f specialist in my book. Though he acts on the ground and can’t be fully discounted.  He makes no appeal to risk anything for a rather short price, though.

Flight Risk, Jim Bolger’s 50/1 shock winner in the Gladness Stakes, tackles the 1m trip for the first time in his career today. Not impossible that he gets it, though his dam managed to win only over 5f. He’s to give weight away to his rivals and looks vulnerable for that reason.

Every improving Lincolnshire winner Onenightidreamed is an intriguing contender. Clearly on the upward, he’s a mud lover and is expected to take another step forward today when competing in pattern class for the first time. This is obviously much tougher today, and while I do really like him, I feel he is nothing more than a fair price at 4/1.

Piri Wango is a fair miler who did well to finish 2nd in the Gladness over seven furlongs last month. He’s vulnerable to classier and unexposed rivals today. Geoffrey Chaucer used to be a smart prospect but seems to have lost his love for the game. Alive Alive Oh’s poor strike rate is off-putting.

Only UK raider Fire Ship is a consistent performer who was placed in a couple of hot races on Listed and Group 3 level behind smart individuals in the last couple of seasons. He’s a 1m Listed winner who likes to be up with the pace.

Positive tactics may be an advantage today in a race where not many want to lead. He acts on soft ground and should be sharper after a dismal seasonal reappearance in the Lincoln. As the outsider of the field he looks overpriced with conditions to suit.

Fire Ship @ 15/2 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Two against the field in Victoria Cup


Victoria Cup (Heritage Handicap)

Can a race be more open? Probably not! 27 starters, plenty of horses in with a chance here but that often can lead to some huge prices and big value. While I do really like the favourite Zarwaan, I believe there is better value to find in this field. He’s a 12/1 chance and that in itself would look huge on any other day, but not today.

Cutting down the field to a handful of interesting runners, I got stuck with two exciting individuals that seem to be a bit overlooked here, though. Both have been progressive handicappers last season, and both confirmed that they have come well over the winter on their respective seasonal reappearance already.

Outback Traveller @ 18/1 SJ – 5pts Win: Trained by Jeremy Noseda, this colt smashed a fair field in a class 3 Handicap over course and distance on his final start in 2014. He looked like a ready-made pattern performer that day.

On his return last month at Kempton he was only beaten by the narrowest of margins while giving a good deal of weight away to the eventual winner. One would assume he’ll be a bit sharper today. It’s a big mark to defy, but he looks one able to be a big runner with conditions very much in favour.

Baraweez @ 18/1 SJ – 5pts Win: Massively progressive last season, the highlight was clearly when he landed a big Premier Handicap over 7f on Irish Champions Weekend. He was a good deal beaten on his seasonal reappearance in the Lincoln over 1m, but has had some excuses.

I believe he hit the front too soon when the pace collapsed in front of him and he had only one chance to try and go on. He travelled strongly up to that point. He’ll be sharper today, 7f looks perfect and he has his preferred quick ground. He may have still more to offer off a mark of 100. 

Agent Murphy’s the type to improve


Buckhounds Stakes (Listed)

Godolphin’s Winter Thunder is expected to progress as a four year old from his all improving three year old campaign. He rounded up last season with an impressive Handicap success at Newmarket over 1m 4f. Though that form doesn’t work out at all. In 23 starts it hasn’t produced a single nto winner. Nonetheless this New Approach son is exciting and the one to beat potentially

His main danger is thought to be the lightly raced Agent Murphy. He was progressive last year, won in good style at Sandown, and followed up with two nice performances in defeat here at Ascot. He cried out for a step up in trip while still looking green when 2nd in July over 10f. Subsequently stepped up to 12f he didn’t quite get the run of the race when last seen but but stayed on nicely in third.

Fractical landed some lower grade races last season. It will be interesting to see if he can transfer this form to a new level now as four year old. Good older h handicapper Rawaki is a fair good measure stick in this race.

Red Galileo’s only win came on the All-Weather. He’s yet to get off the mark on turf in twelve starts. Farquhar was a shock winner of a a Newmarket Herritage Handicap. He may not be suited by the fast ground today.

Selection: Winter Thunder makes plenty of appeal on form and will clearly appreciate the conditions. But I take a chance on the bigger priced Agent Murphy, who appears to be a rather big price, given his profile.

He looks the type to improve as an older horse as it is often the case for Cape Cross offspring, as well as his dam sire’s Dansili. He hasn’t too many miles on the clock and could have still more to offer. He  proved in the past that he can make all when required. Which may be important in a race that could easily end in a tactical affair.

Agent Murphy @ 5/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win

Preview: Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes


Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3)

With the rain arriving at Lingfield Park, this race could evolve around the question: how much of it goes actually into the ground?! It could enhance or hamper chances of some well fancied runners. This is an exciting renewal of Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes anyway – a clash of young versus old…. kind of!


From the brigade of the older horses, the four year old Kiyoshi is the household name. A precocious juvenile, she didn’t quite manage to transform her early form into her classic season. Yet an impressive Group 3 success at Doncaster towards the end of last year confirmed that she is still a classy filly. That success means she has to carry a penalty here today. It may not be easy to give weight away to smart rivals on her seasonal reappearance, is my feeling.

Twice a runner-up in the 1.000 Guineas, the Newmarket and Irish equivalent that is, Lightning Thunder would be an obvious candidate today in this somewhat lesser grade. She was disappointing in two subsequent starts last year, though, and hasn’t been seen since August. God knows what to expect of her as a four year old.

Dettori’s mount Al Thakhira was a very good two year old and a fair three year old. But she regressed last season no doubt. She managed only third in a Listed event at Wolverhampton back in March when seen for the first and last time this year. She doesn’t seem to have improved from a physical point of view. 

Still rather lightly raced Evita Peron won a Listed race at Newmarket last year and was not disgraced when 2¼ lengths beaten by Kiyoshi at Doncaster on her final start in 2014. The arriving rain is in her favour and she may be able to imrpvoe as an older horse with a near perfect record over the seven furlong trip.

Exciting New Providence was a close runner-up behind Osaila in the Nell Gwyn earlier this year. If she can improve from that run she has to be a serious candidate today with the weight for age allowance giving her a good chance to be on terms with the older horses.

Two lengths behind her in the Nell Gwyn was Astrelle. A slightly exposed looking filly from the Botti yard. She looked physically improved from her 2yo career where a close second in a Newmarket Group 3 was the highlight. On form she isn’t too far away and receives a serious amount of weight today.


The more fancied fillies like New Providence, Lightning Thunder and Al Thakhira look all fairly priced. However Ralf Beckett’s Evita Peron has not many miles on the clock but some fair form to her name. Her fifth behind Kiyoshi at Doncaster matches her close with most rivals and she may be able to improve a bit from that. She has a good a chance as anybody I feel and is overpriced.

A second nod goes to Astrelle. She should strip fitter from her seasonal reappearance and will be happy in these conditions. With rivals giving weight to her all around she could go closer than her big price tag suggests.

Evita Peron @ 9/1 William Hill – 5pts Win
Astrelle @ 25/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

Highland Reel’s a steel


If you follow me on Twitter or have been reading my Horses To Follow article you’ll be familiar with my love for Ballydoyle inmate Highland Reel. We haven’t seen him racing this season yet, so it’s still unclear how he came over the winter and whether he has matured and improved from two to three.

But as a juvenile he was pure class. I loved the way this inexperienced colt won his maiden at Gowran Park. Unaware of what his job was, interested in anything but not the race, yet pulling clear with so much ease. Poetry in motion. I loved even more how he produced his phenomenal turn of foot in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood. Obviously he has yet to be really tested but that may change this Sunday in the Prix des Poulains.

Highland Reel missed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, which was a real shame as I backed him ante-post. Of course Without having seen him this season yet it can’t be said with certainty, but I believe he would have been a real danger for Gleneagles.

Anyway, he’s now going to France to get his classic season under way. The Prix des Poulains is normally a rough race, where in-running luck is very much required. It’s not always the best horse that wins. However Highland Reel is a rather uncomplicated horse who wouldn’t mind being up with the pace. A good draw in stall seven should see him securing a perfect position and therefore he could be able to avoid any possible trouble. Class should tell after all.

With that in mind I’m happy enough to back him at 9/2 which looks big enough and I would expect this price to diminish the closer we get to the race.

Sunday, 10/05/2015: Prix des Poulains
Highland Reel @ 9/2 Racebets – 10pts win

Rita’s Boy can take it all!

Twilight Son

Thursday was a day with mixed feelings – Hans Holbein finished the job nicely. He has enhanced his Derby credentials to an extend, is now a general 25/1 chance for the big race. Nonetheless he would have to improve a lot to be a real contender.

His victory meant the day finished in profit, though. Which is always positive. Says all other three selections ran really badly. None did even go close or was in contention when the field turned for home. Disappointing.


3.45 Chester: Class 2 Handicap, 5f

This race is as open as it gets. The two horses on top of the betting are fair individuals with decent chances to go close, without instilling any confidence and they look short into. Godolphin’s Wanting has to prove that he can act on soft ground, while Snap Shots seems to be on a high enough mark for the moment. Anonymous John has performed really during the winnter on the All-Weather but went up in the mark to 95 without winning in his last six starts. He looks vulnerable off top weight.

The one that looks a tick overpriced in this field is Rita’s Boy. The mount of Franny Norton has ran well on his last two turf starts, finishing runner-up on both occasions behind good winners who followed on from that in good style. He’s been certainly unlucky not to finish closer lto, when he didn’t get a clear run until the final furlong marker, and even wasn’t beaten up. He surely could have finished closer.

He was hampered and knocked out of his rhythm on his penultimate start soon after the start, he also hang a bit in the closing stages but was just beaten by a tight margin by a well handicapped individual. who scored subsequently again.

He went up in the mark for these last two performances but could still be better than his current mark off 82 judged on those runs. He will need to bring his A-game though. He acts on soft ground though and the only slight concern today is the draw which would ideally a bit closer to the rail. Nonetheless I feel he has a cracking chance in this field.

Rita’s Boy @ 11/2 Paddy Power – 5pts win


8.25 Nottingham: Class 5 Handicap, 1m 2f

The Michael Appleby runner Philba is an interesting contender in this race. He should improve from his seasonal reappearance six days ago but most importantly has been gelded since then. His sire poses some impressive starts for first time geldings, so it may be worth to have a punt on this three year old Cockney Rebel son.

He is also first time blinkered and is probably bound to make all from the front in a race that lacks strengths in depth. He has actually some pretty fair maiden form to his name, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him going strongly today with blinkers fitted now as a gelding.

Philba @ 14/1 William Hill – 5pts win 

Horse Racing Around The Globe

%d bloggers like this: