The first Saturday in June brings the ultimate test of the thoroughbred, the Epsom Derby.
This year’s renewal has a field of thirteen, eight from Ireland, seven from Ballydoyle along with Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon, and five from England. The forecast is good and the ground will be good to firm.
Let’s review the recent Derby trials:
The Sandown Classic Trial G3, 26th April
Bangkok 10/1, took the Sandown Classic Trial on good to firm ground. He’s somewhat of a forgotten horse in the market as prior to winning this he’d beaten Telecaster in a maiden who went on to win The Dante. The market has been cold on him, you can back at more than twice the odds of Telecaster. A win for him will be hugely emotional, his owners King Power lost Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in the Leicester helicopter crash last October.
The 2000 Guineas G1, 4th May
Madhmoon 11/1, by Dawn Approach, is the only horse who contested the Guineas to come to the Derby. He was a very taking juvenile, a maiden winner in August, he beat Broome in easy fashion in the Juvenile Stakes in September. His Guineas run at Newmarket where he finished fourth suggested a Derby tilt would be within his compass.
The Chester Vase G3, 8th May
Ballydoyle’s Sir Dragonet, a son of 2012 winner Camelot is the 3/1 favourite and will be partnered by Ryan Moore. Proven at the trip, he was unraced as a two-year-old only making his appearance at Cork over a mile and a half in April on yielding to soft ground. He was unfancied, let go off at 14/1, he pissed up. Sent to Chester for the Vase he did it again, this time coming from last to first to beat Norway, his better fancied stable companion in an even more authoritative performance, yet the market let him go off the fifth choice at 13/2. Aidan expressed his surprise as he showed little at home. He was supplemented for this as expected on Monday.
Norway 40/1, by Galileo out of Love Me True is a full brother to 2013 winner Ruler Of The World. He contested a G1 late last year, he went off favourite in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud finishing fourth, a similar path taken by Wings Of Eagles who won this in 2017.
The DEE STAKES Listed, 9TH MAY
Circus Maximus odds have halved from 20/1 on Wednesday to 10/1, he mixed it with some of the best last year, second to Persian King, fourth to Magna Grecia (only beaten 1L) with Pheonix Of Spain just ahead, he beat Mohawk in the Dee Stakes comfortably here over a 1m2½f, by Galileo out of Duntle, a miler. Will his stamina stretch the extra 1½f?
The Lingfield Derby Trial Listed, 11th May
Anthony Van Dyck, another Galileo has been a drifter in the market all week out to 8/1 from 5/1, this on the back of a Lingfield Derby Trial success where he certainly looked the part. This was a big step up on an active juvenile campaign where in seven runs he never went beyond a mile. The step up in trip definitely suited. No issue with him staying.
The Derrinstown Derby Trial G3, 12th May
Broome, second in the market at 9/2, is a son of Australia. He came a more conventional path, five runs as a juvenile and two preps this year where his form picked up considerably on his juvenile career. In April he was a very impressive Balysax winner, in May in the Derrinstown he won again, he did look to labour briefly in the straight before being gathered by Ryan Moore to pull away impressively. Sovereign cut the deficit between himself and Broome from the Ballysax to the Derrinstown, beaten 8L in April it was reduced to 3L come May. Is there further improvement? If so the 100/1 on offer could look silly.
The Dante Stakes G2, 16th May
Hughie Morrison leads the home defence with Telecaster, a 5/1 shot. He’s certainly bred of it, by a Derby winner New Approach out of an Oaks second Shirocco Star, he was also supplemented having come to prominence by overcoming Too Darn Hot in the Dante. Like Sir Dragonet he only made the racecourse this year, he had the two run’s prior to the Dante, beaten by Bangkok first time out in a maiden then demolishing a field 9L to break his maiden before the Dante.
Japan, a 10/1 shot was talked about with the Derby in mind after winning the Beresford last year where he beat Norway, niggles put him last to trial of the Ballydoyle party in the Dante where the further he went the better he travelled. He finished fourth with Line Of Duty, a G1 winner in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf dropping out tamely finishing second last.
John Gosden runs Humanitarian 50/1, the only one not to trial, he won a novice stakes at Salisbury on the 16th May. It’s a big ask to step up to win a Derby in the space of two weeks.
The trials have been informative, Sir Dragonet, Anthony Van Dyck, Broome and Telecaster were all good winners. It leaves Ballydoyle going in mob-handed, it’s easy to think the team are average, no standout, yet the trials entitle them to send in the troupes.
Sir Dragonet’s homework is incomparable with what he’s done on the track, he keeps his best for the public to see, it’s his inexperience that is a concern going into such a demanding situation as the Derby. The market drift of Anthony Van Dyck also puts one off. Broome and Telecaster appeal, the former for his improvement from two to three, the latter for his high-class defeat of Too Darn Hot, though how good Too Darn Hot is after defeat at the Curragh remains to be seen.
Of all of the trials, the best is the Guineas, fourth at Newmarket says just short of a milers pace, preserving that pace to extend to 12F and the pointer tilts to Epsom. Masar was one place better last year at Newmarket and then went on to win at Epsom. He will have to overcome stamina doubts, connections are bullish he can, should he do so Madhmoon can follow suit.
Recommendation: Madhmoon 11/1 ew
Madhmoon, Broome, Sovereign (trifecta)
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