Tag Archives: Epsom Derby

Monday Selections: June, 4th June 2018

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A first Derby win for Godolphin. It’s been in the making for far too long, the ultimate dream finally achieved, however. 41 years it took, then Sheikh Mohammed could see his home bred Masar scoot home to land the world’s most prestigious flat race.

A whopping 16/1 chance. How could so many miss the credentials the 2000 Guineas third had, including myself?! My own selecting The Pentagon only proved one thing: not good enough.

Derby Day could have been a super day, regardless. Ana Nerium ran the race of her life in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes if she wouldn’t have had had too much to do from the rear of the field, unfortunately.

The consolation in the evening, at least. The double of Sam Gold and Midnight Blue landed. Off to the winning ways in June…

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6.15 Windsor: Class 4 Novice Stakes, 5f

Hugh Taylor’s selection Queen of Bermuda is backed as if there isn’t a tomorrow. And sure she was super impressive at Thirsk recently. She is well entitled to follow-up here, though all the money coming for here leaves others in the field at tasty value prices.

First and foremost the ride of Derby winning jockey William Buick. Only one ride on Windor’s evening card, he comes over to sit on well bred Leading Spirit.

The colt ran pretty green on debut at Yarmouth in a hot class 3 contest last month. The winner looked incredibly smart there, Leading Spirit faded away in the closing stages to finish a well beaten 3rd in the end.

That form should work out really well, I suspect. Leading Spirit drops to the minimum trip. That’ll suit, he looked sharp out of the gate. His sire has an excellent record here at Windsor as well as in general over 5f plus on fast ground. He’s bound to improve quite a bit and that should see him go close to the favourite, I hope.

Selection:
10pts win – Leading Spirit @ 11/2 VC

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8.30 Ayr: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 7f

An incredibly open race screaming for a long-shot to get his head in front. I do like the chance of In Focus here, despite him seemingly loosing his form and still looking for a first win beyond a mile.

That says, there are fair reasons for his last three forms that read so badly: he was entitled for his seasonal debut run at Wetherby last month and didn’t take to hurdling in his final run in 2017. A combination of very soft ground and potentially a little bit too much racing at the back end of last year may was the combination that saw him fading badly at Catterick on his penultimate run.

Judge on his best performances in 2017 over marathon trips, when twice runner-up in 14f handicaps, suggest he can get the trip and is competitive from his current handicap mark.

I feel the fast ground today could be real deal breaker in a positive sense. He hasn’t encountered anything like it for quite some time. He did win on fast ground twice in the past, however.

 Selection:
10pts win – In Focus @ 14/1 VC

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FYI: If interested, keep an eye on this blog because if the ground dries further at Windsor, I may identify another selection for the evening card there. 

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Derby Day Selections: June, 1st 2018

Gleneagles

4.30: Group 1, Epsom Derby, 1m 4f

Guineas winner Saxon Warrior looks rock solid judged on anything he has done so far. I love his physique, the way he goes through his races… everything, really. But from draw 1, which comes with so many complications, at odds-on it’s not a bet for me.

I stick to AOB, though. The forgotten one, it seems, The Pentagon, is drifting out to a massive price this morning. It’s fair to say he hasn’t lived up to reputation of his sensational pedigree yet, and by any means he isn’t flashy if you see him racing.

The Pentagon was a workmanlike winner of a poor Group 3 last season, enhanced his credentials massively with an excellent 3rd place in the Racingpost Trophy eventually, though. The race wasn’t run to his advantage, he was badly positioned and clearly didn’t have the tactical speed when it was paramount to have. Yet he stayed on eye-catchingly.

This season he’s been disappointing given lofty expectations in two starts: a 3rd place in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown was underwhelming to many. Nonetheless, it was a fair effort in a race that was more about speed than stamina.

Fact is, The Pentagon is all about stamina, nothing about speed. He lacks gears and is a grinder.

He’s high class, I believe, regardless. He needs the right test to show his best. The step up in trip and the usually frantic pace of the Derby might be what he needs to be at his very best. From a good draw he is likely to go forward, he might even be tasked with pacemaker duties.

I don’t mind that at all. In fact it should be to his advantage. The cut in the ground won’t be a problem. It might even help. I can see a scenario where he tracks a fast pace and Wayne Lordan pushes the red button turning for home. It’s a long way home from there but this lad stays all day long….

At 50/1 this looks a cracking each-way bet. The better fancied horses might catch him eventually, but he could stay to the line for some fine place money.

Selection:
5pts Each/Way – The Pentagon @ 50/1 WH

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2.35 Epsom: Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, 8.5f

The 1000 Guineas form has worked out really well already, so seventh placed finisher Anna Nerium should find the drop in grade a big help. Already a Group 3 scorer, she has trained on, proving it when winnig the Free Handicap on her seasonal reappearance in great style.

The Guineas was probably a bit too hot, however in lesser grade she remains a big gun given she is a full sister to smart Piping Rock. First time going against older horses, now is the time when the WFA allowance starts to swing into an advantage for the three year old’s, I feel.

Epsom is a different test and it remains to be seen whether she likes it or not. Ground isn’t an issue, on the other hand. On the plus side: her sire Dubawi has a tremendous CD record here.

Selection:
10pts win – Anna Nerium @ 9/2 PP

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3.45: Class 2 Handicap, 5 furlongs

The ‘dash’ is often a bit of a lottery. In-running luck plays a big part. So there is always a chance for something big to finish in the money. I feel I can enhance my ‘luck’ by selecting a horse that has potential to outrun his price tag.

Storm Over is the one: he won a soft ground 5f handicap at Catterick in his final race of 2017. A massive performance, running to a 4lb higher time speed rating than his then handicap mark. He’s raised for that effort by only five pounds.

He ran with credit on his seasonal debut in April. He should come on for a sixth placed finish in a race that has worked out tremendously well in the meantime.

Cut in the ground works for him. Question will be the track and in-running luck. If both goes his way I anticipate a massive run by this still pretty lightly raced four year old colt.

Selection:
10pts win – Storm Over @ 22/1 PP

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5.25 Doncaster + 6.10 Lingfield

Sam Gold for Roger Varian ran well in defeat on his seasonal return in a first handicap. The form looks strong with the winner performing with credit in the Guineas. He drops in class and should be hard to beat.

Sir Mark Prescott has identified an easy target for rapidly improving filly Midnight Blue at Lingfield. She won a minor event at Wolverhampton but should be hard to beat under a penalty with the step up in trip a big plus. From a plum draw she’s likely to be up with the pace.

Selection:
10pts win double – Sam Gold + Midnight Blue @ 3.72/1 VC

Preview: Dante Stakes Day

The rain duly arrived today. The ground turned to soft. Desperate conditions, even more so moving forward. Staying with the recent past for now: circumstances made the result of the Musidora Stakes one to take with a pinch of salt, I guess.

Nonetheless Shutter Speed couldn’t do more than what she did: win well and put things to bed in the final furlong, confirming that she is a smart horse – how smart? Another day will tell. The French Oaks that is, most likely.

Eyes turn to Thursday. Dante Day. The warm-up before the big race isn’t shabby. In the Group 2 Middelton Stakes we see the return of last years Musidora heroine So Mi Dar.

She is well fancied to land the odds but first she has to dispatch two higher rated fillies: Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust , who returns to the track after a well deserved winter break – though the soft ground is likely against her.

And there is the South African superstar Smart Call. The sensational 2016 J&B Met winner – a day when she beat South Africa’s highest rated horse in training, Legal Eagle, who subsequently went on to land four major Grade 1’s – has been off since early last year due to quarantine and injuries.

The plan was to run her at the Breeders Cup and on the way there give her a spin around Newmarket in October. Unfortunately things did not go to plan and here she is, now in hands of Sir Michael.

Soft ground is a question mark so is the long absence. Personally I hope she runs well and has retained most of her ability, so she has a real chance of improving for the run and be the old force we know she can be.

A good half an hour later it’s time for some serious Derby contenders in the Dante Stakes. Trial winner Cracksman tries to give his Epsom form some substance. Derby “gamble” Crystal Ocean has to live up to all the bookies hype of the last couple of days.

Obviously with my ante-post wager on him here’s hoping he’ll prove his worthiness. That says I highly doubt the reportedly huge gamble is anything more than a handful of 50 quid wagers (like the one I put on at 40’s) which these days can – as we know only too well – mean bookies cut prices shamelessly and talk up horses even where no substantial sums have actually  been placed.

The Irish come over with Rekindling in particular. Young Joseph’s classic contender has the best form in the book, given the Ballysax does not look a bad race in hindsight.

I find it hard to fancy Aiden O’Brien’s Exemplar. And that’s probably the reason why this lad will bolt up…. Godolphin throws four darts. Craven Stakes third Benbatl the best of the lot.

No bet for me in the race – just sit back and hope for Sire Michael’s guy to do the business to be then in with a real chance on Derby day.

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8.00 Newmarket: Class 5 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

You have to take note whenever Charlie Appleby and William Buck arrive with lightly raced individuals to the party. The yard is going very well at the moment and they look to have another big chance with Pure Shores here in this big field though not overly competitive race.

Pure Shores makes her Handicap debut after three relatively decent performances in maiden company. Particularly the two starts this year over 10f where eye-catching in my view.

Both times she pulled very hard in the early parts of the race. Despite this keenness she travelled like the winner on both occasions, though same story in the finish: the did not get home.

That might be more down to the energy wasted early on than the trip as on pedigree that looks fine. Still the drop to 1m in a big field with better pace should suit down to the ground. Softish ground – on pedigree at least – seems no problem.

Her opening mark of 76 could easily undervalue her true talent given this will only be her second start on turf and she ran much better than the bare form suggests at Sandown last month when sixth behind winner Serenada, who to some extend gave this form some substance in the Musidora Stakes on Wednesday afternoon.

Selection:
10pts win – Pure Shores @ 6/1 Bet365

Saturday Tips

After three days full of action at Chester our attention turns to Lingfield for the Derby Trial, though whether this really is a meaningful trial for the big race June is debatable. It’s also worth to have a look across the pond as racing at the Curragh is back!

On a day like this, with so much excellent racing on offer, it’s tough to remain disciplined and focused, but I try my best and worked myself through two handful of races and came up with four more or less confident selections for the day.

2.30 Lingfield: Derby Trial, 1m 3.5f

You had to be impressed with Sir John Lavery’s maiden success at Gowran Park last October, but he’s a very short price for a yard that we know doesn’t send their big guns to Lingfield. We haven’t seen him this year yet too, so you got to have allot of trust – which I don’t have and therefore think he’s worth to take on.

John Gosden’s Tartini was a fair 4th on his return in the Epsom Derby Trial, he may well improve for the run and will probably be seen in better light here stripping fitter and hopefully enjoying a bit more in-runging luck.

However for a price I do feel is over the top the bin Suroor’s Best Solution makes most appeal. It’s not ideal that he has to give weight away, but the Kodiac colt is head and shoulders above the rest on 2yo form where he ended the year with an excellent runner-up effort in the Group 1 Criterium de St. Cloud.

His runs in Meydan may be forgiven, he just didn’t take to the dirt. So a return to turf with a bit of cut in the ground could easily see him improving. He has the right profile to be a better three year old and a fair chance to stay the trip.

Selection:
10pts win – Best Solution @ 12/1 PP

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3.25 Ascot: Class 2 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

Both three year old’s look intriguing in this contest, however the older Singyoursong is equally a very interesting contender, and in by book a better betting proposition. An improving filly last season, she is still on the up as was evident when she won on her seasonal reappearance earlier this month at Brighton.

That day over 10f she produced a nice turn of foot coming from the rear of the field to get up with plenty in hand. A 5lb rise in the mark could undervalue that success. The drop in trip to 1m isn’t an issue as she has is three from six over this distance.

Furthermore Singyoursong has course form – she won a valuable Handicap here last July in similar conditions.

Selection:
10pts win – Singyoursong @ 11/2 Bet365

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3.50 Nottingham: Kilvington Stakes (Fillies’ Listed), 6f

First time blinkered Pichola Dance could improve for the combination of headgear, drop in trip and drop in class. She found opposition in the Fed Darling on her seasonal reappearance to hot and faded away in the closing stages, however with the rail to aim at from her draw she might use her pace to advantage today.

She’s twice a winner as a juvenile, including a good class 2 Handicap over 7f, and ended the season on a high with 3rd placed effort in Listed Radley Stakes at Newbury. With fitness on her side, ground to suit and potentially conditions to improve for, she can run a better race than the price suggests.

Selection:
10pts win – Pichola Dance @ 22/1 Bet365

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5.05 Curragh: Apprentice Handicap, 7 furlongs

Market leader Baine has been knocking on the door a couple of times and her two latest efforts have been massively eye-catching that also stand up form wise.

She is a horse that needs a bit of luck given she usually races at the rear of the field and certainly at Cork last month she did not get a clear run, finding traffic on numerous occasions stopping her smooth progress.

She still finished a strong 3rd behind a well handicapped winner who won subsequently and a runner-up who finished a solid 5th in a Listed contest the next time.

Baine went on to run another big race, then at Leopardstown. From a wide draw she missed the kick and was dead last turning for home. She manoeuvred her way through the whole 18 runner strong field but didn’t quite get there, finishing 3rd for the third consecutive time.

This is another big field today and she will need to get the breaks when needed, however form wise she looks well handicapped. I feel the better ground does suit her allot today and in this slightly weaker contest she must go very close.

Selection:
10pts win – Baine @ 7/1 Bet365

 

 

Epsom Review: Minding The Gap

A historic day for Irish trainer Dermot Weld, who celebrated a first Derby success thanks to his brilliant Sea The Stars colt Harzand, who followed in the footsteps of his prominent daddy, who himself now sired a first Epsom Derby winner!

It was not a trouble free preparation, though. In fact it was touch and go in the morning whether Harzand would take his chance in the most famous flat race and the ultimate call was actually with Pat Smullen cantering down to the start! He went into the starting gate, thankfully, as we know the outcome by now.

Under a masterful ride by jockey Pat Smullen – also for him a first Epsom Derby success – the inexperienced colt was patiently guided through the field; Smullen settled him in a good position somewhere in midfield and rode with a cool head when gaps didn’t open up immediately in the home straight.

Harzand ultimately fend off a late surge by favourite US Army Ranger. He dug deep and found another gear when it really mattered. Given all the foot problems beforehand, it was a brilliant performance!

And The Ranger, whom I’ve been so keen on? Finished runner-up with plenty of credit. He clearly proved to be a classy individual. However it didn’t go to plan for him. Ever so slightly, yet decisively, he missed the break and didn’t seem to travel particularly well early on, subsequently lost every chance to be in a decent position. In a race where small margins can be the deciding factor about victory and defeat this was surely a tough ask to overcome.

Good Ryan, Bad Ryan?

After the less than ideal start, Jockey Ryan Moore took it easy on US Army Ranger, settled in rear, relaxed the horse and let him find his rhythm. Commentator Richard Hoiles called it during the race: “Us Army Ranger is given time” – which was the only real option in my mind. He was still third last turning for home but Moore gradually edged to the outer of the field to get a run. Gaps didn’t open for him and only inside three furlongs Ranger finally got into the clear.

Winner Harzand was already flown towards home at this stage, still Ranger produced a stunning change of gear and loomed large with 200 yards to go. But the big effort to make up so much ground in such a short space of time showed its effect and he ran out of gas in the final furlong.

Ryan Moore has come under scrutiny for his ride on US Army Ranger. As often in this game, opinions are divided. In my view this was a class ride by the world’s best jockey. He proved, despite defeat, why he’s simply the best. In difficult circumstances he gave his mount the best possible chance to finish as close as possible. Not always is a winning ride a good one and a losing ride a bad one.

Sure, it wasn’t the game plan to travel as far back as second or third last for large parts of the race. But inexperienced Ranger didn’t help the cause when he bottled the start. What other option did Moore haven than let the horse find his stride, relax him and try to preserve as much energy as possible? Hustling him up to make up ground would have been detrimental to Ranger’s chance, in my mind.

The fact that gaps didn’t open up when Moore (and I as a punter) would have wanted it is not his fault. These things happen in racing. Imagine the gap would open up over 4f out though – Ranger cruises through it, and maybe wins the race. You know what happens then? Moore’s going to be the hero!

It wasn’t to be. The gap didn’t open, Moore had to delay and ask Ranger for an almighty effort when the road was finally clear. In the end it was all a bit too much for US Army Ranger who still finished second – what is in fact credit to his class and the one of his rider.

In the end inexperience cost him, and for that reason it’s fair to say the best horse on the day won. Harzand was more professional, mastered the difficult test Epsom provides and is without a doubt a really good winner of the world’s most famous flat race.

Minding and the Beauty of Racing

These last two days were yet again a wonderful reminder why I personally love flat racing so much. Yes, it was a disappointment not to back the winner  in the Derby with US Army Ranger, still I enjoyed the coverage, the races leading up to the big one, Postponed’s brilliant success in the Coronation Cup, the joy and emotions on Weld & Smullen’s faces after they won their first Derby….

However it was Friday’s performance by Minding in the Oaks that is the standout of the two days – she simply blew me away! When I saw her overcoming all the trouble in the Oaks, when I saw her blistering turn of foot, changing gears so smoothly like Formula 1 cars usually do, her wonderful attitude and enthusiasm – it was something else!

The speed, the beauty, the power, the elegance – it’s what flat racing is all about and it’s epitomized in this dramatically good looking and at the same time incredibly talented filly Minding. Her Oaks performance was one of those special racing moments you have to see to believe.

And no, I didn’t back her. It has nothing to do with money whatsoever. I’m just grateful for having witnessed her performance for the pure love of the sport. And on that front isn’t it  wonderful to know our sport is yet again blessed  with brilliant talents like Minding, Harzand and US Army Ranger? I love it!

Photo Credit to citizen.co.za

Preview – Irish Derby Day

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The Irish Derby weekend has landed and it all started quite nicely yesterday – Algonquin was a fine winner @ 5/1. This week is a huge boost so far after a disastrous Royal Ascot. But that’s the good thing about racing: You can have a hard time but two winners later you’re very much back on track.

So today, Irish Derby Day! Some serious racing on offer at the Curragh. The sun is out, the ground is fast, the Derby poses an 8-runner strong field and the supporting card is sensational. Let’s try to find some winners!

4.10 Curragh: Summer Fillies Handicap, 7f

Three year old Military Angel should go close. She was unlucky the last time at Naas in Listed company and may be ahead of her mark. But she is small in size and this is not exactly a small field. Fighting for position is not her strongest asset, so I oppose her at a price that looks fair, but nothing more.

Colour Blue is a consistent filly. She should run her race. On a fair mark at the moment but others are better handicapped. Slipper Orchid may struggle of top weight, while Duchess Andorra is very progressive but has to overcome a 10lb rise in the mark for her most recent success at Gowran Park.

That day she beat Dermot Weld’s Sparkle Factor in second. This lightly raced four year old makes plenty of appeal. She should come on from her seasonal debut at she travelled really well and got just bit tired in the end, beaten by a fit and well handicapped rival. She came well clear of the rest of the pack nonetheless and is only one pound higher today.

She loves the ground and the trip, has a CD win on her CV and looked to win a Listed race at Killarney last year, when she travelled much the best but found the 1m trip a bit too far in the end. She looks progressive and well handicapped here today.

Sparkle Factor @ 13/2 Coral – 5pts Win

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4.45 Celebration Stakes (Listed), 1m

Nice little field, really competitive race. Looking very much forward to see how it pans out. I guess you know what you get with most of these runners. That says War Envoy is a poor favourite in my mind. Yes, he was probably well in at Ascot the other day, but now back in Listed class, he isn’t certain to follow up by any means.

I like progressive Tennessee Wildcat, but feel a track like Leopardstown suits him much better than the open, wide space at the Curragh. Bolger’s Flight Risk proved his 50/1 shocker in a Group 3 earlier this year was no flash in the pan. While Sovereign Debt may find this trip at this track beyond him. Though quick conditions should suit.

The one unexposed and potentially underestimated individual is Shepherd’s Purse. He was a bit unlucky in a hot Group 3 at Leopardstown nine days ago when the route on the inside was clearly not the one to glory. He had only five starts to date, won on his debut in taking style here at the Curragh last season, was subsequently far from disgraced when 4th behind Cappella Sansevero in a Group 3 but didn’t handle soft ground in his next two outings.

Quick ground today is very much what he wants. He has seemingly trained on and physically improved from two to three and travelled strongly the last time until meeting in-running trouble. He’s a very big runner today with the weight for age allowance – if he stays the trip. It’s far from given on pedigree. Although not impossible. At 15/2 he’s a price I feel is too big and I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Shepherd’s Purse @ 15/2 Betfred – 5pts Win

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Handicap (3YO plus), 1m

Plenty of interesting runners. Favourite Hasanour is expected by many to run a big race. He probably will  do so but has to overcome a big hike in the mark. Others appeal more to me. I like Ger Lyons’s Trinity Force. Reportedly he had a wind op over the winter which seemed to have helped as he looked good over 7f this year. Ground and trip may suit. Bolgers maiden winner is another interesting prospect.

But for a price I select Burn The Boats to go well. He has a strong record over this trip and needs fast ground and a fast pace to see him to best effect. He’s 2lb above his last winning mark but has shown some fair form this year. He was certainly not advantaged at Dundalk on his penultimate start when he travelled much the best but got a run too late. He wasn’t disgraced in Listed company at Navan when seen the last time either.

It’s a tough race, others might be better handicapped and he heeds things to fall right. But at 20/1 Burn The Boats is certainly a price to have an interest in. If he gets a clear run then I expect him to be bang there when it matters.

Burn The Boats @ 20/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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5.50 Curragh: Irish Derby (Group 1) 1m 4f

Despite half the field trained by Aiden O’Brien, this is one of the better line-ups for the Irish Derby in recent years. Epsom Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs comes here as the clear favourite and takes all the beating if he can bring his A game to the plate today.

Storm The Stars was third at Epsom, though a long way behind Jack Hobbs. He finished the race well enough, but you wonder if he isn’t more of a Leger type? He would need a soft lead today to have a real chance to win I feel.

Giovanni Canaletto was fourth in the Derby, he ran okay but not as good as many would have hoped. Though the big race may came a bit too soon for this inexperienced full-brother to Ruler Of The World. He remains with potential for improvement. His comeback run when runner-up to subsequent Riblesdale winner Curvy looked disappointing back in the day but turns out to be very strong form. In my eyes he’s Ballydoyle’s number one today.

However a shorter price is stable mate Highland Reel. Yes, I was eagerly awaiting his seasonal reappearance, hoping he could develop into the superstar he promised to be after exciting performances as a juvenile. He didn’t quite fulfil these hopes. A poor French Guineas run, followed by a much improved runner-up effort in the French Derby. Nonetheless I feel he is not as good a three year old as he was a juvenile and I fail to see how the 12f trip will bring out any more improvement.

Dermot Weld’s charge Radanpour is a fairly progressive individual. Though his dead heat in a listed event three weeks ago doesn’t inspire me. You’d be disappointed if he’d come out on top today. Same goes for Kilimanjaro, who’s simply not good enough.

Surprise Oaks winner Qualify is a different proposition. She is really progressive and I don’t think her Epsom success was a fluke. She is that good. She needs a fast pace and then stays all day long. Not sure if these conditions are given today, but she can’t be underestimated.

But the value lies with Giovanni Canaletto in my mind. He has a lot to find with the odds-on favourite on the Epsom Derby form, but it is far from unlikely that there is more improvement to come from him. He is a lovely looking individual, raw but inexperienced. Epsom could bring him along nicely for the Irish Derby, so at 12/1 I side with him.

Giovanni Canaletto @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts win

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7.15 Curragh: Handicap (60-100), 2m

It was utterly impressive the way Sang Tiger made up ground late at Leopardstown recently when he had clearly the run of the race against himself. He came from a near impossible position to score cosily in the end.

He’s five pounds higher today but not too exposed yet, so he may be able to overcome this new mark. Quick ground is what he likes, and despite an ultra competitive field, he has as good a chance as anybody here and is a rather big price.

Sang Tiger @ 10/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win

Preview: Epsom Derby

Big surprise in the Oaks today – 50/1 shocker Qualify got up to deny Legatissimo the Guinas & Oaks double. That says, if you would have been brave enough, you could have got easily 100/1 for the winner this morning…. I didn’t, that is for sure, completely dismissed this filly. I got it wrong. But it helps to know that most got it wrong.

My filly Together Forever had not too many excuses. Up with the pace, which wasn’t a strong one, she got bumped 2f out, but I felt she was already out of it at that point anyway. Lady Of Dubai finished a fine third. I’m somewhat happy she didn’t win. I was very fond of her beforehand was slapping my face this morning when I saw the money pouring in for her, knowing I left 14/1 on the table the night before

Anyway, that’s the Oaks. History now. Let’s concentrate on what’s in front of us: The Derby!

4.30 Epsom: English Derby, Group 1, 1m 4f 10y

Golden Horn: Favourite, impressive winner of the Dante Stakes. as the key trial. I marked him as one to follow in my Horses To Follow article. Hard to oppose on form but question mark is the trip. I have him down as a 10f horse, though he might be able to stretch out to the Derby distance. Whether he stays the trip is not really the question, though, it’s more whether he’s able to stay it in a way that enables him to beat horses who are certain to get it.

Jack Hobbs: Runaway winner of a Sandown Handicap. Proved his class in Dante with good runner-up effort. Clearly not yet the finished article and fair chance to stay the trip. That says his dam hasn’t produced a winner over 12f yet. Likely to improve again but has to do so if he wants to go close.

Elm Park: Racingpost Trophy winner. Didn’t do anything wrong when third in Dante on seasonal reappearance. He’ll come on for that and I expect him to finish much closer to Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs this time. He clearly stays, will get the trip, but has to prove he can be top class on better ground. However if there is anything soft in the ground come 4.30 Saturday afternoon he must have a prime chance.

Giovanni Canaletto: Another one from my Horses To Follow list. Lightly raced, this lack of experience may count against him. But he looked smart when winning a minor race as a juvenile and his comeback run a fortnight ago was promising the way he finished from a poor position. He’s a full-brother to 2013 Derby winner Ruler Of The World and should improve for the trip. Like his big brother, he’s fitted with cheep-pieces for the Derby.

Epicuris: Group 1 winner in heavy conditions as a juvenile. Form doesn’t really work out, and not too exciting on seasonal reappearance when only 2nd in Group 3. Known for his problems in the preliminaries of a race and unclear if he can be fully effective on better ground.

Hans Holbein: Lightly raced Chester Vase winner. Probably needs soft ground and more of a Leger type. Big question mark whether he’s quick enough to win the Derby.

Kilimanjaro: Witnessed with my own eyes when this lad got the mark in a Dundalk maiden back in April. Won the Derby Trial at Lingfield since then. Fair type but I find it hard to see him good enough to win a Derby.

 Moheet: Looked exciting as a juvenile but hasn’t fulfilled promise in couple of starts this year. He may improve with time and experience but the Derby distance looks very ambitious.

Storm The Stars: One of the more experienced individuals, yet he looked still a big baby in his races. Took him a while to get off the mark but clearly progressing and the trip is in his blood. Might be up with the pace and wouldn’t mind making all if needed. Very dangerous if allowed an easy lead.

Success Days: Progressive and impressive in Ireland this year. Likely needs it soft to be seen to best effect and very dubious stayer on pedigree.

Rogue Runner: German raider who won two minor races in his native country. May improve for the step up to Derby trip but very hard to see him good enough to land a blow.

Carbon Dating: Still a maiden, big chance to finish last.

Verdict: Ground seems key. If there are any soft patches in the ground I believe Elm Park must go really close. But with the ground probably drying out over night, I feel there are others races later the year which are likely to suit better. Golden Horn is top class and will go close if he truly gets the trip. But given his very short price is easily opposable.

I admit I’m not getting warm with Jack Hobbs and don’t see why he is shorter than a couple of others. He’s a good horse and may even develop into top class, but for now I have Elm Park higher in the packing order.

However it’s clearly Giovanni Canaletto who gets the nod from me. I have a 16/1 ante-post bet on him, but he’s still a 9/1 chance, which strikes me as too big – therefore I nominate him as my selection for the Derby. He’s clearly classy, has the right credentials on pedigree and first time headgear should help to settle and focus when it matters.

Giovanni Canaletto @ 9/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win