Age Of Sail was a very easy winner on Friday. He always did enough in front, or perhaps only as much as needed, because the rest of the field was kept napping in behind, allowing him an easy lead.
The other two selections from Friday provided a set of mixed emotions: Azaim ran a huge race for 3rd place despite a drift to 28/1 SP. He ran well to the line, and I can take some joy from seeing him outrunning his price. In truth: he was not good enough to win, though.
Capofan was the disappointment of the day. I’d fancy him to go seriously close, despite double-figure odds. But he wasn’t the sharpest away from the gate was beaten at the halfway stage.
All in all, another green day regardless how small the profit. Two days, two winners for June. No complaints.
1.30 Epsom: Group 1 Derby, 1m 4f
A wide open Derby. A puzzle to solve without a “good thing” to back. The Derby this year lends itself for a big price to cause an upset, I feel.
It’s hard to have confidence in the long-time ante-post favourite Auguste Rodin. A classy juvenile, but his poor Guineas performance raises plenty of questions. Sure, he had some excuses that day. Valid ones. But it’s far from an ideal prep.
Military Order is a stronger choice, in my view. He’s got the credentials as a brother of Adayar and he was impressive when he kicked clear in the Derby Trial at Lingfield, albeit on the All-Weather.
But like many in this field today, lingering doubts hang over his suitability for fast ground. The same could be said about Arrest or Sprewell, two who I would find of great interest with any ease in the ground.
White Birch is one who has shown to handle fast ground at York. That forms ties in with The Foxes, the winner of the Dante. Both ran good speed ratings and are prime contenders, if they handle Epsom and the new trip.
The two I feel are severely overpriced in this wide open Derby have their own questions to answer: Waipiro for one – runner-up behind Military Order in the Derby Trial.
He fell away in the final half furlong, but I feel the fact he raced closer to the pace and did more in the fast half of the race could be a fair reason for that. He still ran a superb race.
That performance confirmed his strong Newmarket victory on his seasonal reappearance. He wasn’t expected that day and may have surprised connections, but travelled and kicked on like a colt of significant talent.
He ran to a 97 speed rating at Lingfield, which gives him a fair shot to run well in a Derby. obviously more is needed, and he seems to hit the ground hard as well, so I have questions over his suitability for fast ground.
Whether he stays the trip is another question. He’s a half-brother to one who finished 3rd in a Chester Plate over extended 2 miles. So there’s well grounded hope. In any case, he has talent and his form is good enough to give him a shot at outrunning his odds today.
The other one I’m intrigued about is Artistic Star. He won quite well on his racecourse debut last October. The attitude he showed to keep going all the way to the line was impressive. So was his debut speed rating of 87. Sings of a potentially smart colt.
The notion that is his a smart colt indeed received another boost when he returned at Sandown last month and won going away in the closing stages, answering every call and responding well to pressure. He improved on his debut speed rating also.
He looks like he would definitely enjoy the Derby trip and as a full-brother to two smart ones (both won Group 3) that won over the distance, he shouldn’ have a problem at all.
He’s another one who has doubts over his suitability for fast ground, though. His two career runs came on softish ground. Though, full-sister Forbearance won the Group 3 Royal Staked over 12f on fast ground. His action seems fluid and the knee action isn’t too pronounced.
Clearly he’s been incredibly progressive in his two career runs and deserves a chance to run in a Derby. He can progress again, and if he does act on the ground and track he should be a huge runer.
5pts win – Waipiro @ 37/1
5pts win – Artistic Star @ 18/1
1.50 Musselburgh: Class 3 Handicap, 7f
Gioia Cieca had a troubled run last time at York in a seriously hot Handicap. He didn’t seem to travel overly well and lost ground, before getting stuck behind horses in the home straight and impeded. He fell away rapidly in the last two furlongs.
There’s a danger that he hasn’t recovered from two big efforts in April as it looked like he found form again after a break, where he was gelded and underwent a wind operation.
I’m prepared to ignore the last effort as it simply didn’t seem to be his day at York. However, judged on the first two efforts this season, over this course and distance at Musselburgh, he should be seriously competitive off a lowered mark.
Back off his break in April Musselburgh, off for 235 days, he caught the eye for the way he finished after a less than ideal way the race developed for him from the start.
He was desperately unlucky next time over the same course and distance and that performances warranted an upgrade as the one before, especially as both runs came on softish ground.
No doubt Gioia Cieca is a better horse on decent ground. His two best career performances can on fast ground over 7 furlongs. Therefore the ground should be ideal here today, in what is a wide open contest
10pts win – Gioia Cieca @ 9/1
4.50 Musselburgh: Class 6 Handicap, 5f
Stay Smart could be quite well handicapped today in conditions to suit and a race that looks quite winnable.
He showed a clear return to form last time out at Ayr when he raced from the front and also achieved a good speed rating, the best in over 1.5 years.
That day he moved quickly forward and led the field at a good pace. He travelled well and found plenty for pressure from 2f out. Ultimately he was only beaten inside the final furlong by two ridden with more restraint.
Stay Smart had a tough time since losing his form in early 2022. He changed yards, tumbled down the weights and has been gelded and had a wind operation. He appears to be in good shape now, though, and is dangerous off his current rating.
His best performances on speed ratings are mainly over 6 furlongs, but he won over the minimum trip as well, ideally on fast ground and a fast pace to chase over 5f. That should be the case here. The 3lb of Mark Winn are the cherry on the cake.
10pts win – Stay Smart @ 9/2
5.40 Doncaster: Class 6 Handicap, 6f
Madame Fenella is a filly in serious form. Her last three runs were strong and the way she finished indicated her day to shine is near.
She caught the eye at Bath on her seasonal debut when she finished best from the back of the field and wide draw. It was awkward start for her, as can be often the case, she also wore a hood to post; she’s tricky as the past tells.
Nonetheless, she travelled well and did seriously well to finish as close as she did from her wide draw. She didn’t have the speed over 5f at Wolverhampton the next time, though it was a fine performance, which she confirmed once more with an eyecatching run at Haydock the last time.
That run is the strongest indication for her wellbeing. It was a deep race, the winner well handicapped, and se didn’t get the clearest of runs, but she finished once again with zest.
The filly had limited opportunities on turf in handicap company. Her Ascot run from last September noteworthy. She’s intriguing as she drops down to class 6 on turf, especially on fast ground over 6 furlongs.
10pts win – Madame Fenella @ 11/2