Tag Archives: Epsom

The Derby (Group 1)

The Pentagon on his way out to win the Tyros Stakes last July

A field of twelve go to post for this years Derby headed by Saxon Warrior a drifter in the market due to his inside draw in stall one and the soft ground after heavy thunderstorms have taken their toll through the week.

There are no holes in Saxon Warrior.

His four runs have yielded four wins, all authoritative performances. Last August he came from the rear in his maiden to win in a matter of strides annihilating the opposition on yielding ground. In September he stepped up in class and easily won the Beresford Stakes from Delano Rossevelt on soft ground. In October he had his toughest test in the Racing Post Trophy where he won a neck from a battling Roaring Loin on good to soft ground. It was a proper test Roaring Loin headed him in the last furlong but Saxon Warrior just put the head down drawing away at the line. Game over.

On return at Newmarket after a winter where he strengthened up he was a very easy winner of the 2000 Guineas on good ground with Masar back in third and Roaring Loin back in fifth. Donnacha O’Brien got the ride with Ryan Moore in America and although he got a little excited lighting the touch-paper a tad too soon he was sitting on a beast that soon took off and again in a matter of strides it was all over. The fact that he could win so easily over a mile was telling. He’s bred for middle distances.

Aidan won’t rely solely on him and he’s accompanied by Kew Gardens, Delano Rossevelt, The Pentagon and Zabriskie.

Zabriskie put in a much improved performance behind Roaring Lion in The Dante albeit to run well for third. There was no coping with the winner who put in a very classy display. He certainly advertised the form of the Guineas very well.

Masar put in an exciting performance in the Craven in April winning it by 9L which led him to go off favourite for the 2000 Guineas. He ran a good race to be third behind Saxon Warrior beaten a head for second by Tip To Win. His form has received a significant boost at the Curragh on Saturday when Romanised won the Irish 2ooo Guineas as he had that colt 2L behind at Sandown in the Solario Stakes last September. He then went to France where he was beaten by Happily and Olmedo in the Jean-Luc Lagardere. That form also stands up with Happily running third in the Irish 1000 Guineas on Sunday and Olmedo winning the French 2000 Guineas a couple of weeks earlier.

Young Rascal was a comfortable winner of a maiden at Newbury in April and then went on to take the Chester Vase by a 1/2L from Dee Ex Bee with Aidan O’Brien’s favourite Hunting Horn back in third. The latter didn’t get a seat on the bus to Epsom.

Harry Dunlop’s Knight To Behold has a similar profile having won a maiden last October he came back this year to win the Lingfield Derby Trial where he beat the favourite, Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens, who did get a seat on the bus.

Sevenna Star from the John Gosden yard won a Winsor Novice Stakes by 14L on heavy ground in April and then took the Sandown Classic Trial beating Ispolini and Hunting Horn yet Frankie Dettori has abandoned him in favour of Dermot Weld’s Hazapour.

Hazapour going out of the ring at Leopardstown to win the Derrinstown Derby Trial

He has largely come out of the pack after his win in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial where he beat Delano Rossevelt and The Pentagon in a bunch finish. The Pentagon went off favourite and was slightly disappointing. He couldn’t quicken from a good position whereas Delano Rossevelt found the pace a bit hot early on but he did quicken and stretch however Hazapour had got first run and got there. Over an extra two furlongs you could see the result reversed.

Delano Rossevelt leaving the ring at Leopardtown for The Derrinstown Derby Trial

The Guineas is the best trial for the Derby. Saxon Warrior was a really good winner of it. He’s bred for this though, by Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare, Maybe, who was trained at Ballydoyle, he reminds you of Sea The Stars who did the double in 2009. He was a real middle distance horse yet capable of winning over a mile at the highest level. Sea The Stars went on to do even greater things after Epsom and you can see Saxon Warrior doing the same.

Delano Rossevelt could follow him home with Masar best of the rest.

Recommendation: 1. Saxon Warrior 1/1 win  

                                        2. Delano Rossevelt 16/1 ew

                                       3. Masar 20/1 ew



The Oaks (Group 1)

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Flattering on her way down to post for the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and John Walton.

A field of nine remain to contest this years Oaks, four from England and five from Ballydoyle. Godolphin’s leads the home challenge with Wild Illusion who is favourite.

She beat Willie Haggas’s Give And Take on debut last year in a Novice Stakes at Yarmouth in August. A trip to Paris in September followed where she was beaten at G2 level in the Prix d’Aumale but that was put right in a follow up visit on Arc day when she won the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac from Polydream and Mission Impassible. Magical, a late withdrawal here, was 1 3/4L back in fourth.

The form of the Prix Marcel Boussac isn’t looking great as Mission Impassible and Polydream both ran no sort of race when trailing in last and second last in the French Guineas a few weeks ago and prior to that in April Mission Impassable had also been beaten in the Prix de la Grotte.

This year Charlie Appleby sent Wild Illusion straight to the 1000 Guineas where she ran fourth 2 3/4L behind the winner Billesdon Brook. Laurens who was second at Newmarket has since put a shine on the form when going on to win the Prix Saint-Alary, a G1 over 10f at Longchamp. Happily third at Newmarket filled the same spot at the Curragh on Sunday in the Irish 1000 Guineas so the Godlphin filly’s form largely stands up.

Clive Cox’s Perfect Clarity is unbeaten in two run’s, one as a juvenile where she won a Novice Stakes at Nottingham and this year in her second run she won The Lingfield Oaks Trial under a hands and heels ride from Adam Kirby who had dropped his whip. Flattering was 3 1/2L behind in third.

Willie Haggas withdrew See Of Class from the race and now relies on Give And Take. She followed up her second to Wild Illusion last year with a Novice Stakes win at Lingfield and was then put away for the season. On return this year she ran second in another Novice Stakes at Sandown and then progressed from there to win The Musidora at York where she had David Simcock’s Ejtyah 2 1/2L back in third. Ejtyah won a Novice Stakes at Chelmsford Christmas week on her debut, her only previous racecourse appearance.

It might be the Dermot Weld filly Jaega (doesn’t run here) who holds the key to the Ballydoyle team. In April Jaega won a maiden at Leopardstown beating Samasthit 6 1/2L with Magic Wand a nose behind in third. In May Flattering beat Samasthit 10L in a Cork maiden and a few days later at the Curragh in the Blue Wind Stakes Bye Bye Baby beat Jaega 2L.

That would mean the pecking order of the Ballydoyle fillies gives Flattering an edge over Bye Bye Baby. Magic Wand is third in order though on jockey bookings she’s first being the choice of Ryan Moore. Ryan choose her on the back of her Cheshire Oaks win at Chester where she beat her stablemate Forever Together 3 1/2L who ranks fourth in order on the Jagea form line.

It’s hardly a secret that the Ballydoyle fillies can step up and win when their previous form doesn’t entitle them to do so. Aidan trains then from race to race relying on the engine within that comes from their breeding in the purple. Magic Wand’s win at Chester is testament to that.

I Can Fly makes up the quintet and she was tried in the Guineas where she was well beaten. No doubt Aidan had a view to this race in mind. Her race record would suggest she has it all to do yet she can’t be ruled out.

Wild Illusion has the best overall form but there is an if. Will she stay? The ground is the other worry. She should handle it as it was soft in France for the Boussac. Perfect Clarity has no concerns on the trip but will she handle the surface having encountered only good or fast conditions. Give And Take should handle an ease and get the trip as should Ejtyah but are either good enough. Of the Irish Bye Bye Baby ticks the boxes on the ground and trip as does Flattering but there are concerns for the other three over either ground or trip.

The Oaks is always a puzzle, until it’s run. It can produce greatness, Enable (2017), Minding (2016), Taghrooda (2014) but it’s also well capable of shocks. Was (2012) was a 20/1 winner and Qualify (2015) was returned at 50/1. Those  two shocks were provided by Ballydoyle.

Given the Ballydoyle pecking order courtesy of Jaega and the doubt about the favourite Wild Illusion staying then it may be worth trusting the Jaega form line and backing Padraig Beggy and his mount Flattering to win a second classic for him here at Epsom, one to add to his Derby win on Wings Of Eagles last year. Another shock at 40/1 trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Recommendation: Flattering 25/1 ew



The Oaks (Group 1)

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Rhododendron winning her maiden at Goodwood last year. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

Rhododendron didn’t quite have the turn of foot over a mile to catch Winter in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. She was closing with every stride but the line came too soon. Over this extra 4 furlongs she’ll be well fancied and now trades a shade of odds on at 10/11 to continue Aidan O’Brien’s dominance of the Irish and English Classics. She’ll have Pocketfullofdreams here to set the pace for her. Can she be beaten? Continue reading

The Irish Derby (Group 1)

Mike Dillon Of Ladbrokes studies Little White Cloud leaving the ring for The Derrinstown Stud Stakes

Mike Dillon Of Ladbrokes and Jim McGrath of Channel 4 Racing study Little White Cloud leaving the ring for The Derrinstown Stud Stakes. (Picture by Pattern Racing)                     Did they see an Irish Derby winner?

We’ll have a small but select field for this year’s Irish Derby.

That’s down to the decision in early June when Aidan O’Brien let it be known that Ruler Of The World would be aimed here. It was a great decision for the Curragh and consequently for the race. The clarity provided meant the Epsom Derby winner was there to be marketed by the course, for the public to look forward to and for other trainers to plan to beat him. Everyone a winner then.

At Epsom Ryan Moore had the mount and the race fell nicely into his hands. We all saw how it worked out for Dawn Approach, at the time that’s where our eyes were locked. Out of focus Ryan was gathering Ruler Of The World quietly to come with a withering run from off the pace winding him before letting him go to run cleanly to the line. Ruler Of The World beat Libertarian 1 1/4 L who had a short head to spare over Galileo Rock.

Ballydoyle also run one other in Festive Cheer who was employed as a pacemaker at Epsom where he trailed in tenth. Prior to that he had some smart from in the Prix Hocquart, a Group 2 Derby trial at Lonchamp where he went down a head third to Andre Fabre’s Tableaux.

Karl and Elaine Burke had won the Dante with Libertarian as a 33/1 shot and came close to proving that trial to be once again Epsom’s most reliable guide. Libertarian beat Jim Bolger’s Trading Leather 1 1/4 L at York. Jim then stepped back to a mile for the Irish Guineas and his colt ran a cracker when third to Magician beaten 5 L. The step back up in trip here is bound to suit him and he had a confidence booster last time out at Listed level where he accounted for Lines Of Battle, the UAE Derby winner by 3 L.

The interesting race and possibly most significant one was the one before the Dante where Libertarian ran in the Sandown Classic Trial. He was 8 L behind the horse in third, David Wachman’s Galileo Rock.

We haven’t seen the second or first from that race in April since.

The vanquished was an O’Brien trained colt Eye Of The Storm who was a head behind Patrick Predergast’s Sugar Boy who still won it cosy. The Prendergast colt was building on a run two weeks before in the Ballysax where he was 1 3/4 L behind Battle Of Marengo with Little White Cloud in third beaten 3 L.

The fascination of the race is now the ownership of Libertarian and Sugar Boy.

The former is now owed by Godolphin who not only wrote the cheque to buy the horse but spent another €75,000 on the supplementary fee. Sugar Boy has been purchased by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, a first cousin to Sheik Mohammed. You could interpret this as two deals done to take on Ballydoyle or two deals done to purchase the two best colt’s who have the opportunity to take on Ruler Of The World.

In the interwoven form these two stand out. Sugar Boy improved form the Ballysax to the Sandown Classic Trial. His trainer will believe he’ll improve again. Libertarian improved from Sandown to the Dante and again in the Derby. He wasn’t unlucky at Epsom but again he may continue to improve. Ballydoyle will no doubt believe Ruler Of The World has more to give also. Jim Bolger must have a tinge of regret he didn’t aim Trading Leather at Epsom while John Oxx has given Little White Cloud more time and knows how to win this race also.

It’s all in the mix, the boys in blue versus the Ballydoyle blue, first, second and third from Epsom, Bolger, Oxx and Prendergast. What more could you want. With thankfully good ground on the horizon we have a cracking Irish Derby to saviour.

It could taste sweetest of all for Sugar Boy.

Recommendation : Sugar Boy 9/1 e/w