It’s Derby day at Epsom where Aidan O’Brien runs seven horses in a bid to win his sixth Derby. The ITV racing team are bringing us five live races from Epsom Downs where Hathiq has been all the rage in the Dash and Veracious bids to put a disappointing run behind her in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. It truly is a day to savour for racing fans.
All nine runners hold chances in this 1-mile two-furlong handicap but I think it may pay to focus on the horses currently heading up the betting. Nayef Road is one of three runners for Mark Johnston and was a facile winner at Newmarket on seasonal debut before running a fine race in the Dante behind Telecaster. Obviously, this is a drop down in class but off nine-pounds higher tan Newmarket he’ll need to be a Group horse to win this.
Le Don De Vie showed potential as a two-year-old and showed a really nice attitude to win over a mile at the track back in April. He looks like the type to progress through the season and with the step up in trip looking sure to suit, he enters calculations.
Punters have had their fingers burnt by Politicise in recent starts but he definitely has a big engine. I think the step up in trip and the addition of cheek-pieces can make the difference and I’ll keep the faith once more.
Of the remainder, the booking of Chris Hayes on Alkaamel is somewhat eye-catching and we haven’t yet seen the best of the Richard Fahey trained Red Hot.
Princess Elizabeth Stakes
The dead eight for this Group 3 prize and with half the field rated less than 100 we are left with only four possible winners. Anna Nerium finished runner-up in this contest last season just missing out behind Wilamina. She went on to win a Group 3 at Goodwood later in the season but wasn’t quite so good afterwards. There were signs of a resurgence at Goodwood most recently and she’s got a chance.
The highly tried and much raced Nyaleti is a mare you’d just love to own. She danced every dance last season, raced in four different countries and was twice placed at Group 1 level. She ran a “cracker” in Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on her penultimate start and should once again run her race.
The one they all have to beat is Veracious who was placed in the Coronation and Nassau Stakes last season which would be far superior to the Group 1 form held by Nyaleti. She was disappointing on seasonal bow at Newmarket but if putting that run behind her, she’ll take all the beating.
The final runner with legitimate win claims is Awesometank who started this season off with a fine win over Anna Nerium in a listed event. she’s a consistent Group 3 filly but I think she may be outclassed here on her first try over the undulating Epsom track.
Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore could be in for a very good day as they are responsible for another favourite in the form of Zaaki. He was very consistent last season and kicked off the current campaign with a good win over Barney Roy in a listed contest. Obviously, that wasn’t the real Barney Roy but it was still a good performance and he’s the one to beat on that basis.
Bye Bye Hong Kong was won both starts this season and is in receipt of a big weight for age allowance here. He was good when accounting for the re-opposing Oh This Is Us at Windsor recently and I see no reason that Richard Hannon’s consistent stallion will reverse the form.
Morodin put in a career-best performance at Haydock but I think a six-pound rise in a better quality race is enough to stop him here.
Hathiq has been all the rage for this race since his very impressive victory at the Curragh last weekend, where he travelled all over his rivals and showed a nice turn of foot in the closing stages. The supremely well-bred gelding has obviously had training issues but Denis Hogan seems to have found the key to him and off only a four-pound higher mark he’ll be hard to beat.
Copper Knight has had a great start to the season and stayed on well when winning a York. He got a five-pound penalty for that victory but he’s a horse on an upward curve which he should when placed again last week and he should once again run his race now in the Middleham Park colours.
It pains me to talk about Duke Of Firenze who took advantage of a falling handicap mark to win his last two starts at Thirsk and York. I had been following him for months but have missed him both times and now off eight-pounds higher than his Thirsk win, I’ll have to oppose him.
Of the bigger priced runners, Boom The Groom is interesting off twenty-pounds lower than his career high mark of 107. Obviously, he’s not as good as he once was but he could sneak into the places if recapturing some of his old form.
The Epsom Derby, the race every flat jockey wants to win and in truth, it defines many a jockey’s career. Aidan O’Brien won it three times in a row(2012,2013,2014) and although he won it since Wings Of Eagles in 2017 he will be looking to add another win to his record. The master of Ballydoyle throws seven darts at the classic with the best among them and choice of Ryan Moore being Chester Vase winner Sir Dragonet.
Incredibly this will only be Sir Dragonet’s third racecourse appearance having won a Tipperary maiden and then bolting up at Chester. It’s clear that he doesn’t show much at home as he went off unfancied on both starts but was impressive and having handled Chester, the undulations of Epsom should hold no fears.
Aidan’s two other main representatives are Derrinstown Trial winner Broome and RaceBets Derby Trial winner Anthony Van Dyck. Ballydoyle seems to have a stranglehold on the classic this season as any one of these could easily land the race.
Telecaster was the surprise package in the Dante when he outstayed Too Darn Hot. That form took a hit when John Gosden’s colt was a beaten favourite in the Irish Guineas last weekend. Perhaps that run came too soon for Too Darn Hot but still, it was a surprise defeat. Anyway back to the chances of Telecaster, he’s done nothing wrong thus far but I think he could just get done for a turn of foot and then stay on when it’s all too late.
Kevin Prendergast doesn’t travel his horses unless he thinks they have a chance and Madhmoon will be his first runner in the Derby in 26 years which says a lot about the horse’s chances. He comfortably beat Broome in a Group 2 as a two-year-old and ran on well to finished fourth in the 2000 Guineas behind Magna Grecia. The extra distance should suit and he’s got a big chance.
Connections of Bangkok made it perfectly clear how much they thought of him and what his target was when they ran him in a Group 3 of a mark of 88. He got the run of the race that day when proving too good for Technician but he looks like the type to be suited by the condition of this race and could provide Champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa with a first Derby win.
Selection: Madhmoon – E/W