Was an ok day yesterday, with De Bruyne Horse kicking us off with an easy 13/8 winner. He looked like he didn’t like the track in the slightest and took ages to get balanced, but once he did the result was never in doubt. Hawkbill ran a decent enough race in the Coronation Cup. If only the Oaks weather could have arrived for this then you never know what could’ve happened, but place money at 10s is no disaster. Coronet and Sobetsu were both very disappointing in the Oaks however. But the winner was very good, which begs the question: how good is Shutter Speed? Gosden has made no secret of the fact that Shutter Speed is definitely the best of his fillies and it would be a huge shock if she doesn’t now win the French Oaks on the back of this. Onto the action on Derby day, with 1 in the Dash and 2 in the Derby, with 2 of those 3 at double figure prices.
3.45 – Investec Corporate Banking “Dash” Handicap – 5f
Now this is not an easy race to have a strong fancy in, but it is usually a decent advantage to he drawn high, so that’s where I focused my attention. The one I ended up on was Kimberella for Richard Fahey, who arguably should have won this last year. Now he’s well over a stone higher in the weights this time around, 17lb to be exact, but he’s a much, much better horse than this time last year. Fahey has done a cracking job with him, and he won his first 2 starts for him including the AW Sprint Final, before a respectable effort in the Palace House Stakes. He’s drawn 20, has a 7lb claimer on which means he’s actually on the same mark as his AW handicap win in March, won’t mind the rain at all, has good course form and Fahey says he’s going very well at home. With the 5 places on offer with Paddy Power and Hills, I think he rates a decent bet.
Selection: Kimberella 10/1 EW (Paddy Power/William Hill, 9/1 with SkyBet if you’d prefer 6 places)
4.30 – Investec Derby (Group 1) – 1m 4f 6y
Now let’s stop with the bollocks that it’s a sub standard renewal. Yes, there looks to be no standout at the moment, but whatever wins this will win this well. Which horse that is however, well I’m not really sure. Let’s just hope we hit the jackpot but this is not a year to be going big stakes on anything in my opinion. I’ll start with who I think will go off fav, Cracksman. Now I’m a huge fan of the baby Frankels, but this is one I just don’t like. I’m not sure what it is about him, I just don’t like him. The plan all along with him had been the Dante, so it is hardly ideal he’s come here from the Epsom trial, a trial that trainers just don’t target with a very good one. The vibes from Oppenheimer suggest he’s not really that confident he’s good enough to win a Derby, and one thing is for sure, he’s no Golden Horn. Yet the fact that he shares the same connections as Golden Horn is one reason plenty of people are getting behind him, which is mind blowing. I’m not even sure I’d back him to confirm that Epsom trial form with Permian. Permian is a much better horse now than the one Cracksman beat that day, and whilst you can obviously except Cracksman to improve, there’s no guarantee he’ll even see out this step up in trip. He’s also raced off the pace in both starts so far, which could be a big issue in a field of 19 (18 really as Diore Lia is actually a donkey, not equine). He’s a big gangly horse, and although he has won here, I don’t think he handled the track very well at all. It took him a very long time to get going, and I don’t think he can afford to do that again here, especially given he could be a fair way back coming round Tattenham Corner. It was interesting that Ryan Moore said in his Betfair blog that he isn’t sure whether Cracksman has the speed to win a Derby, and I’d agree with him on that point. Now I could be very wrong with everything I’ve just said there, but I’m not going to sit on the fence. I give my opinion, if I’m right then all’s good, and if I’m not then at least I had an opinion rather than plenty of people on twitter who don’t have an opinion beforehand, yet hurl abuse at those who did give an opinion but got it wrong. Just have to hope I’m right more often than not! Of the Frankels, I much prefer the claims of Eminent. Now this is a Frankel I really like, having backed him on all of his 3 starts so far. On the face of it, 6th in the Guineas is not an ideal Derby trial, but there’s excuses for that. He looks to be all about stamina and as the Guineas was a very steadily run affair, Crowley was forced to push on much earlier than he would’ve wanted and just didn’t have the pace to live with the likes of Churchill, Barney Roy and Al Wukair. There’s also the possibility he was still feeling the effects of his Dante win just 2 weeks earlier, in what was a very fast time he recorded. He looks as if he could come into his own over this sort of trip, and given he handled Newmarket with no issues you’d hope he’ll handle Epsom’s undulations too. There’s generous place terms on offer in this race and I’ll be surprised if there’s 5 horses better than him. Onto the Ballydoyle contingent now. Cliffs of Moher looks to be the number 1, and you can clearly make a case for him. That Leopardstown maiden win over Orderofthegarter was absolutely incredible. INCREDIBLE. It had the sectionalistas creaming their pants. His timefugure of 110 that day was the highest achieved in a 2yo maiden this century. He was then unconvincing in the Dee Stakes, but you get the feeling he was barely even ready to run that day, and going on a line through Bay of Poets, he should have the beating of Cracksman due to the fact you can expect huge improvement from that run. Now you’ve clearly got to question whether he’ll get this trip, having shown so much speed and because of the fact he’s out of a sprinter in Wave. But if he does stay, he’s a huge player. I’ve backed him antepost so won’t be getting involved at his current price, but I can’t say I’d put anyone off. I’m already rambling on a bit and I haven’t got time to go through all of the rest, so I’ll just mention my other bet in the race, Venice Beach. Now he’s hardly got a sexy profile, but one thing you can say is he’ll definitely stay. He even looks an ideal St Leger horse to me. He’s improved markedly for each run too, and whilst there’s the possibility he may just find a couple too good, he ticks a fair few boxes and I’d be very surprised if he ran a bad race.
Selections: Eminent 7/1 EW and Venice Beach 14/1 EW (both SkyBet, 5 places)