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.
5pts Each/Way – The Pentagon @ 50/1 WH
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.
10pts win – Anna Nerium @ 9/2 PP
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.
10pts win – Storm Over @ 22/1 PP
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.
10pts win double – Sam Gold + Midnight Blue @ 3.72/1 VC