Tag Archives: Aiden O’Brien

Race Preview: 2019 Melbourne Cup

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The race that stops a nation…. or the race that stops me sleep. Every year the same procedure: Melbourne Cup Tuesday is nearing and I am excited as a little child on the eve before Christmas. I LOVE the Melbourne Cup, it’s my favourite race.

It helps having backed the winner of the last two editions at rather generous odds, of course. While I love the spectacle of watching the race on TV at half past three in the morning with a blanket and a warm cuppa in my hands, it’s certainly has been financially rewarding as much as it’s emotionally warming – backing a winner or not.

But backing a winner is even more fun. So Let’s do three in a row?

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This year appears to be a highly compelling renewal – certainly on paper. The field includes Cross Counter, the defending champion; the exciting Japanese rider and Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace; the Ebor Handicap winner Mustajeer; last years Irish Derby hero Latrobe; plus a highly competitive home team.

On the other hand, I feel this race is much easier to dissect than in years past. Sure, luck can play its part in the race. A massive field will always produce a hard-luck story…. or two, or three of those stories. Regardless, I can see only a handful of realistic contenders, to be perfectly honest.

You can cross a line through half the field easily on the grounds of the softish going, distance, weight or racing style. The ones I can’t dismiss so easily and who made it on to my shortlist are as follows:

Il Paradiso: fits the trend of recent winners. Still relatively low mileage, some classy form in the book, looks to have the right sort of relaxed attitude, appears to stay and will be fine on any softness left in the ground. His tendency to break slowly is a major negative from draw 17, though. Blinkers may help but the “may” is already reflected in the price, I’m afraid.

Constantinople: you couldn’t watch the Caulfield Cup and not be impressed how he finished despite the fact he came from well off the pace and was significantly hampered at a crucial stage. Ran twice to a 108 topspeed ratings year. Most talented horse in the race?

His racing style is not and advantage. His tendency to sweat and exert energy in the preliminaries neither. Not easy to get things right on him. Needs everything to fall right, which it may well do, but I’m happy enough to let it go for single figure odds.

Vow And Declare: Strong chance for the home team if there wouldn’t be the draw. Classy stayer, form in the book, hits peak at the right time as excellent runner-up performance in Caulfield Cup suggested. Drawn in 21 will make life tough.

Dawndraft: Quite a bit of racing under the belt yet still improving. Good performances in Ireland this summer, including career best Listed success (101 TS) albeit below standard required here.

But two good runs since arriving Down Under. Visually compelling latest victory. But that performance came only 3 days ago which is a major concern.

Mustajeer: Excellent winner of the Ebor. Has improved again this season, ran well in Group races before having the perfect race at York. From the draw to the way the race developed to a clear run: everything worked to perfection.

He is a strong galloping sort who I feel will be suited perfectly by the Melbourne Cup. Had a fine prep in the Caulfield Cup and won’t fear the ground.

But that is the point: everything went to perfection at York. Will it today? He’s uncomplicated, that’s a big plus. I think he will go close. Still, it’s going to be the Ebor 4th Raymond Tusk that my money is riding with on Tuesday morning, 4am Irish time.

Raymond Tusk: On a different day he’d have been the brilliant winner of the 2019 Ebor and would be much shorter in the betting than he is now. Drawn in the car park he was trailing the field still turning for home, a wall of horses in front, yet travelling much the best. He had to weave his way through for a clear run and the bird was flown when he finally did.

Still finished a strong 4th, not far beaten, and running to a career best 107 topspeed rating. He’s 4lb better off with Mustajeer here and has a much better draw to play with.

I have one fear that is Jamie Spencer: we know he likes to come from off the pace with his mounts. I hope the good draw will help to settle on a positive racing strategy. Interviews I heard have given me hope indeed.

Still with low enough mileage, Raymond Tusk is an improving individual, who comes here fresh, which seems to bring the best of him usually. Cut in the ground is a question mark. His best results cam on fast ground. However he didn’t have a lot of chances to race on soft. And he did win a maiden over 1 mile on good to soft. Another pointer to give hope.

Selection: 
10pts win – Raymond Tusk @ 23/1 MB

Super Friday Preview

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Bold prediction: we’ll see the 2000 Guineas winner 2020 tonight. I know, I know….. I hear you shouting the name of the colt the boys in blue own. Fair shout. But…..

6.00 Newcastle: G1 Futurity Stakes, 1 mile

…. Kinross will be the better three-year-old.

Sure enough he still has to show up and run at Newcastle tonight. I have no doubt he’ll beat this field, albeit Kameka looks a fine rival. However, watch the Newmarket debut of Kinross again – this is something you won’t see all that often.

He missed the break, yet travelled supremely well soon after, cruised passed the leaders with ease and won the race effectively in a canter – running to a topspeed rating of 100 on the bridle, on his debut, despite botching the start AND all of that as a May foal.

“Are you kidding me?” That was my reaction when I saw this incredible debut performance.

If Kinross stays healthy and winters well he’ll be the one we’ll talk about as horse of the year in twelve months time. That’s another bold prediction.

As far as tonight goes: Kingman has a fine record on the All-Weather, on the Tapeta surface, with juveniles and over a mile. if Kinross is as good as I believe he is, the switch to Newcastle for the Futurity Stakes is a non-issue.

Hence for once I have backed a short price. Something I rarely do. But I do so today because I firmly belief he’s way too big a price to let go.

Selection:
10pts win – Kinross @ 1.65/1 MB

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7.30 Newcastle: Class 5 handicap, 7f

A few here that look handicapped to go close. The likes of Esprit De Corps and Valley of Fire in particular. But the one well-handicapped is Vive La Difference.

I have been keen on the gelding before. At Ayr at the end of September I selected him off 2lb higher than today. He was desperately unlucky today. I didn’t deem circumstances right the next few times and sure enough he continued to make life difficult for himself. Yet here is hoping today is THE day.

Vive La Difference can start slowly and seems to always find ways to get into trouble in-running. He may do so again today. It’s a big field, he’ll need a “lucky” break. But at the same time the 5-year-old is handicapped to slaughter this field, if he finds a way through and doesn’t lose too much early on. What I said back in September still holds largely true today:

“The 5-year-old gelding has been struggling to find his best for a while, certainly starting slowly on pretty much every occasion doesn’t help. At the same time a few performances have been promising this year, when not far beaten in competitive races at Wetherby or Ripon earlier this season.

Vive La Difference has fallen quite a bit in his handicap mark, now 10lb lower than he started the season. He ran twice in his career to topspeed ratings of higher than 70, and a number of times around his current handicap mark of 68, including this year.”

What has changed is he’s now down to a handicap mark of 68 and this is a Tapeta surface and a 7 furlong trip. I don’t think either is a problem. He’s got form over this shorter trip already and being unexposed on the All-Weather may rather be a positive.

Selection:
10pts win – Vive La Difference @ 12/1 WH

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8.12 Santa Anita: G2 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint, 5f

This looks surprisingly uncompetitive in my eyes and even more surprisingly the advantage lies with the home team. The two with prime chances above everyone else are trained by Wesley Ward.

You really have to fear the speed of Four Wheel Drive and he looked still raw when winning the Futurity recently. Drawn in nine is on the edge of becoming a significant issue. His speed can see him getting out of jail. To the detriment of doing too much too soon?

Kimari is the one I side with. She is the favourite and a rock solid one who I’d price around 5/2. She is on the go for a while, was over in Europe came desperately close at Royal Ascot and has won a Listed- and Stakes contest in fine style in her last two starts.

Drawn in seven is fine. She should settle in midfield but hopefully not too far off the pace. She has speed in her own right, anyway. Kimari holds the upper hand over the European raiders given she is the only on the in the field having run to a significant topspeed rating so far (97 at RA).

I’m pretty sure there is more to come from her. The only risk is the long season she is having and the draw possibly seeing her too far back. I’ll take it because in my view she is hands and shoulders above the rest, particularly with the weight allowance.

Selection:
10pts win – Kimari @ 10/3 WH

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8.52 Santa Anita: G1 BC Juvenile Turf, 1 mile

Arizona is the standout individual in this race, without a shadow of a doubt. Posted 100+ topspeed ratings multiple times, underpinning his form lines in hot competition. If he can overcome the wide draw he’ll be hard to beat. For all that he is merely a fair price.

The good prices are snapped up for the one I fancy, but there is still a hint of juice left: Structor cost quite a bit of money and so far has proven his buyers right: he won a maiden race on debut in fine style and followed up on his second start with an excellent Grade 3 triumph.

Visually those performances weren’t all that sexy but I like the fact this lad is so simple – he does all the right things, bounces out of the gate, travelles and sticks to the task. With more improvement to come, a perfect draw and racing style he can go all the way today for an upset against AOB’s favourite.

Selection:
10pts win – Structor @ 13/2 WH

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10.12 Santa Anita: BC G1 Juvenile Fillies Turf, 1 mile

I struggle to trust the Europeans in this contest for a variety of reasons: trip, ground or draw. However, if she takes to the trip, which is a possibility on this fast ground and with all the right visual clues, then Daahyeh is a hot chance. But I can’t quite leave her pedigree out of the equation and feel one of the US fillies has a stronger chance.

That’s Sweet Melania. She’s drawn wide, which isn’t ideal, obviously. However, she has plenty of early speed, connections already mentioned they’ll move forward, and given her experience I trust Ortiz to get the job done.

She’s another one who was quite an expensive yearling, given she is incredibly well bred, obviously. She has been nicely improving all season long and her latest Grade 2 gate to wire success was an impressive performance.

A repeat of that level of form, potentially a bit more improvement still to come, she should go very close today. I don’t mind that she was beaten two back by Christalle. Sweet Melania seems to have move forward since then and was only ran down late over further than today.

Selection:
10pts win – Sweet Melania @ 15/2 WH

Saturday Selections: October, 19th 2019

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

I’m short in time today, hence for now only focus on British Champions Day – Wolverhampton selections maybe later on today. Saying that, still looking for a first winner in October. Tough times…. and as my two selections are massive prices I can’t realistically hope that it’ll change anytime soon!

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2.45:  G1 Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, 1m3½f 

Looks a coin toss on form and ratings between four fillies, namely favourite Star Catcher, Oaks winner Anapurna and the Aiden O’Brien duo Fleeting and Delphina.

You can make solid cases for either of these, but the forgotten horse in this quartet is Delphina. Yes, she is yet to win on the highest level, and only three starts back was beaten in a Group 3 at Cork. The drop in trip may not be totally ideal, but then I think over this course with soft underfoot conditions it might well be.

For a start Delphina is drawn well, so she should be able to settle close enough to the pace which I feel is an advantage here. She will not have to work hard for that, unlike, for example at Longchamp when last seen where was drawn widest.

That performance in the Prix de Royallieu was an excellent performance, given she ran into plenty of trouble in the closing stages. It was also a nice progression from her excellent runner-up performance at Doncaster in the Hill Stakes.

That particular performance is interesting as Delphina ran to a 105 topspeed rating, which is the highest in this field. Granted it came on fast ground, but she proved in France that soft ground is no issue.

Given she has yet to win beyond maiden company she has a little bit to find with the market principles. However on official ratings that is a mere one or two pounds. If she still has something to give after a busy second half of the season I see her going really close today.

Selection:
10pts win – Delphina @ 24/1 MB

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3.20: G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, 1m

With the tough going likely to slow down things significantly and the ground potentially suitable – well, certainly a change – I’m quite intrigued by Phoenix Of Spain today, given he also has a new jockey on board.

He was so impressive in the Irish 2000 Guineas, though hasn’t kicked on from there, although you couldn’t say he’s been running poorly, given he contested top class opposition on the highest level, and despite not coming close to win clocked 93 and 94 tospeed ratings in his last three runs.

That is far off the whopping 105 achieved at the Curragh, or the 101 at last years Futurity Trophy (on softish conditions!), but shows Phoenix Of Spain hasn’t gone dramatically backwards.

On the plus side also he might be a little bit fresher than some of the more fancied runners here. I hope he can overcome the wider than ideal draw and settle up with the pace. If so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him outrunning his price tag.

Selection:
10pts win – Phoenix Of Spain @ 25/1 MB

Arc Day Selections: October, 6th 2019

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Having enjoyed a little break in the sun over the last ten days far away from rainy Ireland today couldn’t be a better day to be back: it’s Arc day!

Enable goes for her historic third triumph in Europe’s premier race. The mare embodies everything I love about flat racing. She is all class, she is versatile and she has proven it time and time again, regardless of race track, country or continent.

There is no bet in the Arc for me today. I don’t need one. I’ll cheer as loud as possible for Enable. She’ll win. Zero doubts.

The rain is in her favour. Her best performances came with cut in the ground. She won an Arc on soft ground two years ago. She ran a 115 topspeed rating this season as well, proving she’s not slowing down whatsoever.

No other horse in this esteemed field comes close to her class. Enable will win. History will be made. Go girl!

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3.55 Longchamp: G1 Prix de l’Opera, 1m 2f

The appeal of Mehdaayih is obvious after her strong runner-up performance at Goodwood. She seems to continue an upward trend and may progress again. Make no mistake, she will have to find more, if she’s ever to win a proper Group 1 contest. So far the filly has yet to run beyond a 98 topspeed rating, which is pretty damn low for a true top class horse.

Her smart trainer has found an excellent opportunity to get a Group 1 on her CV, though, given she may never find a better one ever again. This is a rather weak field for a race of the highest order. In fact only one horse has run to a speed rating of 100 or higher: Pink Dogwood.

At given odds the Epsom Oaks runner-up is an obvious choice. True, she hasn’t exactly kicked on from that excellent effort, that saw her achieve a 101 TS rating. But the Oaks form is a rather strong piece of form, certainly rock solid, so is Pink Dogwood’s Navan win from April, as well as her Pretty Polly staked 3rd place in June.

Things didn’t work to plan the next two times, however it is a big positive that she drops down to 1m 2f again, which is her optimum trip, I reckon. The cut in the ground is another bonus, granted she has winning form on yielding to heavy ground.

So I’m backing Pink Dogwood with my money and Enable with all my heart for an almighty Arc day dominated by the ladies!

Selection:
10pts win – Pink Dogwood @ 16/1 WH

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1.50 Longchamp: G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, 1m

I hardly ever venture into juvenile racing, but feel this contest offers value for the Aiden O’Brien trained Armory, who appears to be a rock solid individual, likely to give his running while also having fine form already in the book, which ultimately can be enough to win this contest.

Given what Victor Ludorum has done so far he is a skinny price. Sure, unexposed and open to plenty of improvement, that may well come to the fore today. On the other hand this is more than adequately reflected in the odds.

How much more improvement is to come from Armory? As a January foal with five starts under his belt he may be close to a finished article by now. That’s okay because what is is now can be good enough to win this race.

He won three on the trot between June and August, including the Group 2 Futurity Stakes, proving he’s certainly got talent, albeit those forms are nothing to get too excited about.

Armory found his master in superstar colt Pinatubo when last seen. No surprise, anyone else would have looked like a 50 rated class 6 handicapper that day. However, on the positive side, even though things seemed to move a little bit too quickly for him, he fought on gamely, beaten smart stablemate Arizona on the line.

Leaving the winner, who is in a league of his own, out of the equation, Armory ran a highly credible race, given Arizona is the reigning Coventry Stakes winner and has more strong form to his name.

Having ran to a career highest topspeed rating, progressing nicely from what he showed a few weeks earlier in the Futurity Stakes, plus the likelihood of cut in the ground unlikely to stop him, Armory is a strong chance today.

Selection:
10pts win – Armory @ 9/2 WH

Saturday Selections: September, 14th 2019

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3.40 Leopardstown: Group 3 Stakes, 1m 4f

I probably should know better: backing an Aiden O’Brien horse coming back from a lay-off. But by all accounts, if the rumblings are anywhere near true that Mount Everest was considered a proper Derby contender, and if judged by his entries for the rest of the season, he’ll need to show something significant today in order to go on those dates in a few weeks time.

Aiden O’Brien has played down expectations. That’s only fair. And surely Mount Everest won’t be at 100% today. It’s a gamble and you never know how far in their preparation these horses are coming off a long injury break, and whether they ever come back to their best, and in this case whether this particular individual has trained on over the winter.

However, this Group 3 is such a lackluster contest that I am prepared to back the “potential” today. Very few in this field have achieved a topspeed rating over 90 to date. Those that have can be discounted for a variety of reason of trip or ground or legitimacy of that particular posting – in my book at least.

The favourit Buckhurst, despite having three career wins to his name, has never ran faster than 67. The main dangers I actually see in the race are Norway, who has proven to be a rock solid horse and has achieved a career best when last seen, plus long-shot and stable mate Blenheim Palace, who could easily outrun his massive price tag and is a compelling each-way candidate.

But at given odds, Mount Everest is clearly of major interest. When last seen twelve month ago in the Bresford Stakes, he finished second in a tight finish behind Japan, having Sovereign more than three lengths behind. That form looks incredibly strong in hindsight and a topspeed of 94 achieved that day is credible.

No doubt this is the strongest piece of form in this race. Given Mount Everest is a May foal, one would have expected him to be a much better 3-year-old, so it’s plausible that improvement is to come with Mount Everest maturing. How much of that he’ll show today is the question mark.

On the other hand, given a long break and injury to overcome he may never fulfill this potential. He may not be ready to go today either. AOB’s record with those returning isn’t all that strong either. I am prepared to take the game in this particular race, though.

Selection:
10pts win – Mount Everest @ 4/1 MB

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4.50 Leopardstown: G2 Boomerang Stakes, 1m

The 6/4 for Lancaster House can only be described as a silly price. Possibly my judgement looks silly in a few hours time, though? I’m puzzled, regardless, because I feel Richard Fahey’s Space Traveller should be a much shorter price than he is.

The 3-year-old colt will need to things to pan out right given his running style, that is a clear concern for me, given that it can prove difficult to peg prominent horses back at Leopardstown if the pace isn’t overly strong.

It’s a risk I take, simply because Space Traveller has overwhelmingly the strongest form in the book. His Royal Ascot success is a tremendous piece of form, given how the race has worked out ever since, and a 106 topspeed rating he achieved that day looks all the more real for it.

Space Traveller stayed 9 furlongs three weeks ago at Haydock, when less than a lengths beaten in a highly competitive of the Strensall Stakes.

Ground and trip will suit today. A good pace looks likely. Now it’s up to WJ Lee to time it right. If he does, Space Traveller should be the one they all see the back of at the finish line.

Selection:
10pts win – Space Traveller @ 11/2 MB

Preview: Irish Derby 2019

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Hello there, it’s Irish Derby Day! Let me tell you: this is an exciting day! Why? Well, the excitement really comes from all angles. Sure, we have the classy racing and the race itself – the Derby, off at 5.20pm – which shapes like a red hot renewal. But probably even more so, I feel, it’s a day when the new Curragh has the chance to delight.

Properly tested for the first time, it’ll be quite exciting to see how this unfolds: tested in a sense of how do facilities hold up when a large crowd is in attendance. Tested in a sense whether a large crowd actually materialise in first place. Attendance figures for Thursday and Friday were low. That was to be expected. Derby Saturday, on the other hand, has always seen a healthy crowd over the years.

Now that the new Curragh is firmly established, the weather – hopefully – balmy and dry in the afternoon, there really is no excuse for not attracting a solid double figure crowd today.

Curragh officials haven’t been particularly outgoing with their own expectations: 6-10.000 is what they are hoping for, officially. I’m sure behind close doors they’d be disappointed if there’ll be not in access of 10.000 in attendance today.

Tickets were €23 if you bought online in advance – that’s a cracking offer, to be fair. I’ve been critical of the Curragh and its pricing policy in the past. Likely will be in the future again. But this is a sensational offer. 23 bucks for what’s going to be an outstanding day of racing action at a modern, top-class venue – unbeatable!

The racing itself, as said there earlier, I feel strong about as well: the Derby aside, which I’ll preview in detail below, the supporting races hold up. Competitive handicaps that certainly offer value, plus some strong stakes races, particularly the intriguing renewal of the Railway Stakes – truth told I’m as keen driving down the N7 to the Curragh as haven’t been for a long time!

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5.20 Curragh: Irish Derby, 1m 4f

An exciting re-match looms large at the Curragh this afternoon as the 2019 Epsom Derby winner, runner-up and close 4th meet again. In those circumstances it doesn’t really matter that five of the eight starters belong to the same yard. This is all about Anthony Van Dyck vs. Madhmoon vs. Broome!

Can Anthony Van Dyck do the Derby double? I’ve never been the biggest fan of his: I opposed him in the Lingfield Derby Trial and even more so for the Epsom Classic. How dare I doubt a Galileo?!

Truth told, Anthony Van Dyck is rock solid – I’ve to concede. He already was a rock solid contender for the Derby. He’s even more so today. Because: he’s done it again and again, particularly taking all the relevant metrics into account: he’s ran three times to topspeed ratings of 100+ and he matched a 110+ RPR on four occasions also. He clearly is rather decent.

Hence the main characteristics of Anthony Van Dyck are “solid” and “consistent”. He usually runs as well, if not better, than expected – leaving a disappointing debut and Breeder’s Cup effort aside. You can also see why it’s difficult for people – like myself – to warm to him and (maybe) give him the full credit he probably deserves: this colt is as unsexy a Derby winner as I can remember for quite some time!

Now, perception aside, as alluded earlier, on ratings (and reputation, given he is the reigning Epsom Derby champ), Anthony Van Dyck is a firm favourite today. Undoubtedly. On the other hand: A 5/4 chance – really? I don’t think so. Sorry. I’ve got to oppose this lad once more.

Reasons are rather obvious: yes, on ratings he tops the field. But he’s not miles ahead of Madhmoon and Broome. He’s consistent, running to the same sort of form over and over again – if any of his main rivals can find any bit of improvement, he’s in trouble because as solid as AVD is, it appears unlikely he’s one with any additional upside.

And the Epsom race itself: Anthony Van Dyck looked a beaten horse two furlong out. He seemed to take full advantage of an opening with less than two furlongs to go, his jockey making a superb decision in the moment of the heat, maneuvering AVD out, sizing the opportunity for a clear passage.

AVD responded strongly and probably profited from the fact that he avoided the ding-dong battle that happened to his right side. The others didn’t quite see or notice him I suspect- they were locked up in their own little battle – while Anthony Van Dyck was too far able to finish his own race with the guidance of the rail.

Well, that’s my interpretation, at least. Anthony Van Dyck is a really good horse, no doubt. He’s certainly no world beater either. Even though he comes out on top in the ratings, his career highest top speed rating is nothing to shout about. If you’d run the Epsom Derby ten times from the moment the field turns for home you’ll probably get a different outcome any time – Anthony Van Dyck wouldn’t be as ‘lucky’ again, I suspect.

Okay, so we have that out of the way, which begs the question: who wins the 2019 Irish Derby? Obviously it would be an emotional victory if Madhmoon could land the big price for his veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast.

Madhmoon travelled much the best over three furlongs out in the Epsom race – travelling surprisingly well, because I have to admit –  I was wrong in doubting this lad to be good enough and/or stay the Derby distance. He duly did!

You can argue Madhmoon was a little bit unlucky, as he travelled so well, but had a rough passage from the three furlong marker on, having to fight for his position, squeezing through gaps, possibly lit up as a consequence – still he fought gamely to the line, and in our hypothetical game of running the race ten times again from the moment the field turns for home, you’d have to give Madhmoon a strong chance to come out on top a number of times.

Two issues I have with Madhmoon, though: despite the fact he is rather lightly, which may see him to progress further, he also had a number of opportunities to run fast already. He didn’t take these chances to run fast. A career highest topspeed rating of 99 – achieved in the Derby – is poor for a supposedly class act.

Further to this: my suspicion is Madhmoon will always show his best on a fast surface. With the rain we’ve got here in county Kildare over the last 15 hours or so, the ground may ride a bit too tacky for him.

While I fo see his potential for additional improvement, I also feel this is already reflected in his odds: 5/2. I can not make a case where I see him a better chance than that, at all.

Before moving to my preferred selection, a quick glance further down the market, to the outsiders in this field: realistically none of the long-shots should have a say here. You could make a case – with a bit of imagination certainly – for Norway to bounce back. At 50’s he’d be a decent each-way shout. But he’s 33’s in the betting. Which is only fair.

Truth told: none of the long-shots is good enough. Of course, it can happen from time to time that a pace setter proves difficult to peg back, particularly at the Curragh. Still, I struggle to make out a viable each-way alternative at given prices.

So, that leaves Broome as the one for me. The negative first: what I said about Madhmoon can be copied and placed here to count against Broome as well: for a supposedly class horse he’s yet to run particularly fast. A TS rating of 97 and an RPR of 117 – he needs to improve today.

Can he? I think if one of this trio is able to break out and move significantly forward it’s him. The reason for this is a simple one: he looked a fair prospect as a juvenile, but was always sure to show his best as a 3-year-old stepping up in trip. And so he did: Broome won the Ballysax and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in fine style, without breaking sweat.

On Derby day Broome was one of the more unlucky sorts. Not massively hampered or anything of that sort, but he was always travelling wider than ideal, covering extra distance and turning quite wide for home as well.

Taking that into account as well as the visual impression of him staying on strongly in the final furlong plus the fact he was beaten by a close margin and hitting the line with full momentum, potentially winning if the race is a few yards longer, is enough for me to believe Broome is the one with the most upside today.

There is a good chance he’s a dour stayer who prefers the Leger trip. On the other hand, with the bit of rain that’s falling, hopefully a strong pace and a stiff uphill finish at the Curragh, I strongly feel the conditions are right for him to shine.

Selection:
10pts win – Broome @ 10/3 PP

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The rest of the Curragh card: I don’t fancy anything as much as that I would back them at my usual stake. I placed some accumulators win and each/way (the bigger priced ones) to keep me entertained for the other races. That includes’s: 

1.45: Twenty Minutes; 2.20 Beckford; 2.55: Old Glory; 3.30: Global Giant; 4.05: King’s Field; 4.40: Fort Myers; 6.00: Mutadaffeq  

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2.35 Chester: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

This is a highly competitive race, but I feel the horse at the bottom of the market is grossly underappreciated, as Wild Eric now drops to the minimum trip for the first time, which I believe will suit this pacey front-runner down to the grounds.

The 3-year-old is already course winner, albeit over a furlong further; he’s been disappointing in three starts this year, but now drops below the 80 rating barrier that sees him racing off a feather weight in this race today.

Wild Eric ran to topspeed 84 last season. If the trip revitalizes him and he can come close to that he’ll be hard to beat today from a top draw, I firmly believe.

Selection:
10pts win – Wild Eric @ 15/2 MB

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7.30 Doncaster: Class 4 Handicap, 6f

He’s yet to show any sort of that form that saw him become a mid-90 rated sprinter as a three-year-old, but now dropping to to a handy mark as well as dropping to a class 4 Handicap, Roundhay Park appears ripe for a big run today.

Even though he hasn’t been in the money in four starts this year, I’d argue his 6th place finish at York in an ultra-competitive race back in May shows there remains plenty of ability and appetite for the game.

The good ground will suit at Doncaster today and this is a much easier race than anything he’s encountered this season so far. A mark of 85 with a good 5lb claimer in the saddle will see him go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Roundhay Park @ 13/2 MB

Preview: Epsom Derby 2019

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No overly dramatic talk is needed about how great a race the Epsom Derby is. We all know it remains the number one in the racing calendar – the one not to miss, the date marked red. Personally I’m more in love with other races but the Derby is the Derby for a simple reason: it’s history defining.

Horses can contest it only once in their life: a chance to write history and following in the footsteps of racing greats such as Shergar, Galileo or Sea The Stars comes once and never again. Derby winners are remembered. The runner-up never is.

As we’re about to find out which colt will make history this year I have to confess: I’m all over Sir Dragonet to be the one remembered! I was delighted when he was supplemented for the race; as if there was ever any doubt after what he did at Chester?

Let me be frank: you don’t see all that often a horse doing what Sir Dragonet did in the Chester Vase last month. It was only his second career start after debuting only a fortnight earlier in a Tipperary maiden.

This fact shows the general inexperience of this son of Camelot. He’s got only two starts to his name to date. He certainly looked in need of the experience at Chester. He better have learned plenty that day.

Another concern is the ground. He’s only proven with cut in the ground. Epsom will ride much faster. hence you also can question the merit of the Chester form.

Those two question marks aside. there is so much more to love about Sir Dragonet. He’s obviously supremely well bred for the job, given his daddy was a Derby winner himself plus he has the legendary Urban Sea in his pedigree as well.

His debut performance at Tipperary was eye-catching. His Chester Vase was victory visually stunning. The way he moved through the early parts of the race, not quite comfortable, very much learning his craft, how he then made smooth progress on the outside from 4f out, turning for home hard on the bridle, and then pushed out a light under hands and heels ride to win by 8 lengths as easy as he liked.

This performance is highly rated on the clock as well. Sir Dragonet ran to a 106 Time Speed figure. Reminder: he did it on what was only his second ever career start and he did did it with ease. Insane.

More importantly: no other horse in this field ran faster so far – only stable mate Anthony Van Dyck ran to a TS rating of 100+ in this field – which he did as a juvenile over 7 furlongs.

That’s not to say the likes of Broome, Telecaster or Bangkok can’t improve for the Derby trip. The fact I merely state is that judged on time speed ratings – which I rate highly, even though they have their own flaws, of course – none of the other market principles has proven yet to be able to ran to anything that matches Sir Dragonet’s Chester run.

Whether he can reproduce such an impressive performance on different ground in a pressurised environment with loads of different sights and sounds is the main question. Of course that’s always the danger with an inexperienced individual as Sir Dragonet is.

Regardless; as unoriginal as it seems, given Sir Dragonet is heading the betting and is trained by Aiden O’Brien, he’s my clear choice for the 2019 Epsom Derby.

Selection:
10pts win – Sir Dragonet @ 3/1 PP