Tag Archives: Derby

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

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.

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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

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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 

Preview – Chester Vase

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Did anyone ever had the idea to rename the Chester Vase into the Aidan O’Brien Vase? Might be a good idea! The Irish handler has made this race his own in recent years – almost! No less than five of the last eight renewals went his way. And he’s bids for a hat-trick today with exciting Hans Holbein.

This Montjeu son got off the mark in a Leopardstown maiden last month. Over 10f in soft conditions he made all and quickened nicely when asked to do so. But it was the way he found more and more in the final furlong which really impressed me. He clearly wants further, and he clearly is bred to get further. As a Montjeu out of a Derby winning Shirley Heights mare – he is bred to excel over 1m 4f.

Hans Holbein won’t mind the ground as he ran with credit on his seasonal debut in heavy conditions at Cork and won his maiden on rain softened ground at Leopardstown. That says everything is set up for a big performance today. 

The opposition doesn’t look all that exciting. In fairness, Godolphin’s Future Empire is still open to any kind of improvement. He was convincingly beaten at Epsom by John Gosden’s Derby hope Christophermarlowe but was poorly placed and ran on a bit. He might be better suited by the 1m 4f trip. If he handles the ground I would expect him to run well.

Storm The Stars needed four attempts to get off the mark. He finally won a maiden last month. His runner-up effort behind Golden Horn reads well and he may improve for the step up in trip. But he has a good bit to find with the first two in the betting in my book.

Mike De Kock saddles Tanaaf. He has been a bit unlucky in a big sales race last month. I believe he’ll be better over this trip, but he’s unproven in soft conditions. The rest of the field looks hardly good enough but Chester and rain softened ground can cause upsets from time to time.

Nonetheless I have to side with the favourite Hans Holbein. If he improves for the new trip as expected he should be head and shoulders above the field.

Hans Holbein @ 9/4 Betfred – 10pts win

Can Sennockian Star bounce back?

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Very interesting day at Epsom tomorrow. It’s the Derby Trial Day. Exciting Christophermarlowe is the hot favourite to land the feature race on the card. If you have red my Horses To Follow List then you’ll know by know that I’m pretty sweet on this son of Tapit. The trip will certainly suit tomorrow and I expect a big run.

Betting wise I’m most intrigued by the 1m 2f Handicap, though. An open & competitive looking contest but I’m not sure if the right horses are at the head of the market. I can see why What About Carlo is favoured to run well after a fair effort in the Lincoln Handicap. The step to 10f should suits perfectly, given that he won over course and distance last year. Though a caree best is required on ground that didn’t seem to suit in the past.

The progressive Mount Logan may relish the fast surface in contrast, but will he be able to cope as well with the drop in trip? Recent Windsor winner Collaboration takes a steep rise in class. He looked good winning a class 5 Handicap, but much more is required here. Fire Fighting looks not out of this by all means, however has to overcome a very tough mark.

For me by far the most interesting runner is Sennockian Star. He won this very same race last year and won another big Handicap at Glorious Goodwood of a 4lb higher mark than what he is rated right now, and with conditions very much to suit, one would hope that he can run well.

He is a horse that can be on or off and you never quite know when he is on a good day. His recent form isn’t too inspiring, but the gradual drop in the mark, plus a track and conditions to suit could see him easily being there or thereabouts. He looks a tasty price and offers value in this field.

3.55 Epsom: Class 2 Handicap, 1m 2f
Sennockian Star @ 14/1 William Hill – 5pts win

Master’s Golden Opportunity

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3.20 Curragh: Handicap, 6f (3YO plus) 

I suspect that Master Speaker won’t ever find a better chance to win a race than this. A usually solid, competitive runner, he won only once in 14 starts, and that on the All,Weather, albeit placed in seven more races. Mainly in hot Handicaps of marks around 90 plus. He’s down to a career lowest mark now, the same as when finishing a fine second behind Bubbly Bellini in a very competitive 6f Handicap here at the Curragh last month. That particular piece of form looks strong and works already out with a subsequent winner.

Master Speaker drops into a much lesser race here, can race off the same mark over the same CD with ground conditions to suit – he looks a huge price to my eyes. Main danger is in form Oor Jock, who travelled like the winner at Leopardstown recently, but found the additional furlong the deal breaker. His Curragh record is dismal though.

Master Speaker @ 6/1 Coral – 5pts win

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4.20 Curragh: Alleged Stakes (Listed) 

Questions marks over almost every horse in this renewal of the Alleged Stakes. Former Dewhurst winner Parish Hall was beaten in this very same race in exact same conditions as favourite last year. That time it was his seasonal reappearance, this season he has already a race under his belt, then beaten odds-on at Dundalk by an 88 rated individual. He looks vulnerable here yet again. But to whom?

Well, the 7/4 favourite Massinga makes plenty of appeal. Trained by red hot Dermot Weld, lightly raced, recent Listed race winner. She ticks plenty of the right boxes. I’m wondering if the drop in trip is what she really wants, though? She stayed easily 12f on bottomless ground a fortnight ago. Maybe, she is fine as she has form over shorter as well. Says she is still a short price and I’m too overwhelmed.

There aren’t too many alternatives, on the other side. Can you fancy one time Derby fancy Geoffrey Chaucer? Not really. He’s lightly raced and hasn’t been seen since finishing last in the Derby. But his last win dates back to September 2013…. over 1m! In-form Aussie Valentine should give a good account. But the drying ground could be against her I feel. Loch Garman was a smart individual…. 2 years ago. God knows what to expect from him after 686 days off the track.

A chance is taken on Canadian filly On Location. She is extremely well bred and won a maiden at Dundalk earlier this month in good style, despite being in season. I understand she’s been covered by Dawn Approach since then and the trainer is pretty sweet on her. Ground shouldn’t be too much of a problem as we may end up with something like good to yielding I suspect.

The step up to 10f should be suitable, as on pedigree she has it. A daughter of Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, out of a multiple Stakes races winning mare of up to 12f – she may be rushed into this here, but has clearly talent and may be able to spring a surprise, which in fact wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

On Location @ 25/1 Paddy Power – 5pts win

Flat Horses To Follow

The start of the flat season is looming…… the ‘real’ start I mean! Yes, the Doncaster Lincoln is the traditional kick-off, but let’s be honest, the focus is still very much on the jumps – thanks to the all overshadowing Grand National. However you’ll see, time is flying.  A blink of an eye later and horses are already thundering down the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Guineas weekend!

That is reason enough for me to write down my personal “Flat Horses To Follow List”! I have worked myself through a large list of horses in recent weeks – to be more specific: I’ve been actually assessing the more or less promising two year old colts and geldings of the 2014 season. Based on that, I’ve come up with a 12 To Follow list…..

I know, everyone is coming up with ten to follow these days – that’s why I have twelve horses on my list! … Well, no. To be honest, I just couldn’t endure the pain to cut down the list to ten.

Archangel Raphael – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

This lightly races son of Montjeu was unlucky not to win on debut but made amends at the Galway Festival. He looked pretty green on both starts and was outpaced halfway through but was particularly impressive on his second outing when he had many negative factors to overcome but won in the manner of a talented individual. There’s bit lack of stamina on his dam side, but 1m 2f should be possible for him. Much further looks unlikely.

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Christophermarlowe – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Big, powerful, galloping sort with plenty of scope. Was still very much learning the game in both career starts, but looks to have some raw ability that could propel him into a top class performer. He handled Epsom well enough when winning a Conditions race on his second outing. Looks sure to get 1m 2f, could potentially get the Derby trip as well.

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Chemical Charge – 2 Starts, Ralf Beckett

Made a belated debut in October. Was visually impressive and followed up with minor win on the All-Weather weeks later. Showed a nice  turn of foot on Lingfield’s polytrack. He has a lovely middle-distance pedigree which should ensure he gets better with age and distance.

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Consort – 1 Start, Sir Michael Stoute

Impressive runaway winner of a hot Newmarket maiden last autumn. Produced strong turn of foot from the front but should be suited by stiffer test. Step up in trip should suit. He’s very likely to enjoy a mile and may even develop with time into a top class runner over a bit further. Out off the Guineas though as trainer said he need a bit more time.

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Endless Drama – 1 Start, Ger Lyons

Astonishing debut run late in the season when producing serious change of gear. Very well bred out of a Listed winning mare. Looks to have loads of speed and not sure if he would get a mile, but he has potential to do loads of damage over sprint trips if he fails to show enough stamina for further.

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Fannaan – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Utterly impressive in two career outings. Beat 104 rated individual under hands and heels in soft conditions at Newmarket over 7f on second start. Bred to be top class miler who should be even more suited by quick underfoot conditions. Exciting prospect.

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Full Mast – 3 Starts, Head-Maarek

Already a multiple Group winner in France over seven furlongs  in his short career, including the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere (actual winner Gleneagles demoted). Lovely bred and sure to improve with age and distance. Exciting middle-distance prospect.

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Golden Horn – 1 Start, John Gosden

Was slowly away and trailing on debut but produced great run to win in the end. Beat smart runner-up (was 2nd on debut behind subsequent Racingpost Trophy runner-up). He is a half-brother to a 10f Listed winner and is bound to excel over middle-distance trips this season once stepping up in trip.

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Giovanni Canaletto – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

A full-brother to Ruler Of The World, he is obviously very well bred. He has been quite green in his two career starts but finished strongly on debut behind a potentially smart winner. He produced a blistering turn of foot on his 2nd start, despite an awkward head carriage. He will improve with experience and distance.

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Mohaayed – 2 Starts, Kevin Prendergast

Very green on both starts. Completely unaware of what his job is supposed to be on debut. Very impressive winner on second start, beating smart Ballydoyle horse in third. Was looking- and wandering around in closing stages but showed some class. Future seems to be over middle-distance on pedigree.

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Highland Reel – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

Very Green and raw and first two starts. Yet run out impressive 12l winner stepping up to one mile on second outing. Third of that race beat exciting prospect JFK subsequently. He went on to win Group 2 over seven furlongs at Goodwood on his last start in 2014. In a rather slowly run race he produced a blistering turn of foot. He should relish a stiffer test over further on pedigree. To my eyes he looks the real deal if he trains on. Serious Guineas prospect.

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Zawraq – 1 Start, Dermot Weld

Gutsy debut winner against potentially smart Sir Isaac Newton. Showed great attitude to fight back when under pressure. Trainer is very upbeat and rates him as best 3yo in the yard. More to come once stepping up in trip. He should get up to 1m 2f but looks to have enough speed for a crack at the Guineas as well.

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It would have been easy to put a list together with all the super sexy Aiden O’Brien prospects. And boy, he has aplenty on his hands! Equally John Gosden, who seems to have some very strong individuals at his disposal. Now, three horses each have made it into my list nonetheless. But I tried to provide a bit of variety and left out the obvious ones like John F Kennedy or Sir Isaac Newton & Gleneagles.

I suppose, if you nail me down to the ONE horse to follow for 2015 – It would be undoubtedly Highland Reel. I was so impressed with his maiden win, where he was more interested in anything else around him, than the actual job he had to do, yet he pulled clear by 12 lengths…. easily….. effortless.

This speaks volumes. He is a hugely talented individual. Mind you, the third of the mentioned maiden race won subsequently a maiden where he beat none less than John F Kennedy. Okay, it’s fair to say JFK needed the run and was green and of course will be better over further. Yet, it is still telling that such an exciting Ballydoyle prospect was a good deal beaten by a horse that was simply demolished by Highland Reel weeks before. Keep the winning margin always in mind: 12l+!

The son of Galileo stepped up in class almost as effortless weeks later at Glorious Goodwood. He dropped down to seven furlongs, right into a race where the pace wasn’t really on, he pulled hard early on, yet when asked for everything, he produced a blistering turn of foot and the race was over.

Highland Reel is the real deal! Yes, there are extremely positive vibes about Gleneagles, who is a short favourite for the 2.000 Guineas. But no doubt, the value lies with his stable mate. Aiden O’Brien confirmed already that HR will go down the Guineas route. And that make sense. From there he may can step up in trip. Coral Eclipse as the most likeliest next target?

But step by step. He’s 12/1 for the Guineas at the moment, and if he starts on the day indeed, he’ll have a much better chance to win. So I backed him ante-post and nominate him as my selection for the race. Highland Reel will win the Guineas.