Charlie McCann previews the Derby, the world’s greatest race
The Derby remains the most famous flat race in the world and today’s race sees the unbeaten 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior odds on (8/11 with BetVictor) to become Aidan O’Brien’s seventh winner of the Epsom classic.
If the Ballydoyle handler were successful he would equal the record for number of Derby winners currently set by Fred Darling (1922-41), John Porter (1868-99) and Robert Robson (1793 to 1823). O’Brien’s first winner of the classic was the mighty Galileo in 2001 and Saxon Warrior clearly has the best form going into the race, but he must be worth opposing given his breeding suggests he is not guaranteed to stay a mile-and-a-half.
If he does stay, he will be hard/impossible to beat but he is the brother of a 7f winner and his dam (Maybe) certainly didn’t improve for the step up in distance when fifth in the Oaks – although to her credit she was not beaten far.
I thought it was significant that jockey Donnacha O’Brien thought 10 furlongs would be the colt’s optimum trip, when interviewed in the immediate aftermath of the Newmarket classic and if you want to back the horse at such a short price I would not want any potential stamina doubts.
The ground is likely to be on the slow side of good which will suit Young Rascal (10/1 at BetVictor) who impressed when winning the Chester Vase last month. That was over today’s 12f trip and he and Hazapour are much respected but I am going to take a chance on another classic Trial winner Knight To Behold (14/1 with BetVictor) who is the each way recommendation.
Knight To Behold did us a favour when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial, despite refusing to settle and having to make much of his own running under Richard Kingscote for Harry Dunlop. There were many who felt the jockey pinched the race from the front, but I felt he was going away again at the finish and I hope he is more amenable to restraint with that first run of the season under his belt.
The time was only marginally quicker than the Oaks Trial thirty-five minutes earlier but there was significant rain during the afternoon and the winning time I feel should be marked up. I would argue that the colt would be much shorter in the betting if he were trained by a more high-profile handler and I feel he is an exciting prospect.
It is possible that Saxon Warrior will turn the race into a procession but, at the time of writing, he remains odds on for the race and it is Knight To Behold who is the each way recommendation.
In the opening 10f handicap I hope the see the wonderfully consistent Poet’s Prince (2.00) go one better than when runner up in the London Cup from a 5lbs lower mark at Newbury. That race invariably throws up a number of subsequent winners and I hope to see the Mark Johnston-trained 3-y-old go one better in this competitive contest.
The form of Shenanigans (2.35) second to Nayaleti at Goodwood last month was given a boost when that filly won a Group 2 in Germany last weekend and I hope to see the Roger Varian-trained filly go one better in the listed Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
Star Of The East (5.15) is 4lbs higher than when winning at Chester last week but any number of Mark Johnston horses improve with racing and it should be noted that the 4-year-old won on his only previous outing at Epsom.
Brian The Snail (5.50) has won first time out for the last two seasons and there were many who thought he would make up into a sprinting star when easily winning at Pontefract on his reappearance last year. Things went downhill quickly after that, however, although I feel it is significant that Godolphin have persevered with him. Richard Fahey has his string in great form and he is back to his Pontefract mark. He gets the each way vote in the finale.
Over at Doncaster Ghostwatch (3.05) can return to winning ways having looked ill at ease at Chester last time when third to Austrian School who reopposes on 8lbs worse terms. The hope is that this more conventional track will suit the Charlie Appleby-trained colt who holds an entry in this month’s Queens Vase at Royal Ascot.
Sam Gold (4.50) was well backed on his reappearance at Newmarket but ran as if he would come on for the run when fading into third last month. He can run off the same mark this afternoon and is taken to recoup losses for Roger Varian who could have a very good day on Town Moor.
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