Epsom Derby Day

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The Thoroughbred exists not because its selection has depended experts, technicians or zoologists but one piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.

The above Frederico Tesio quote sums this race up perfectly for me, it is the pinnacle of horse racing. The winner has to have a blend of speed, stamina, agility and balance. The Derby is a unique test for Group One horses and you usually have to be a well bred horse to win it.

The best bred horse in this years Derby was Midterm, unfortunately he fractured his pelvis in The Dante and considering that he ran an excellent race to finish fifth. If it wasn’t for that injury he, in my opinion, would have won The Dante and been 2.50 (6/4) favourite for this race. In the end the race was won by Wings of Desire, who now finds himself as Derby favourite. He looks like a stayer, he won over twelve furlongs, so despite being sired by Pivotal I think we can say that he’ll stay. I have two major concerns regarding him;

  1. He’s big horse who doesn’t settle well, I don’t think he’ll relish the track despite working on it last week.
  2. I don’t rate the form of his Dante win highly, Foundation has never been a horse that I’ve rated and Deauville is Group Two horse at best. wings of Desire didn’t win it in the style of a top class Group One horse and I see him as more of a Carlton House than a Golden Horn.

The best form on offer in this races is that of 2000 Guineas runner-up Massaat. They say that The Guineas is the best trial for The Derby, however I think this years race was an awful trial, which is backed up by the fact that Massaat is the only runner from the race to be running here. From a breeding point of view he has some staying pedigree from his sire, Teofilo, has produced some strong stayers. However he’s out of an Acclamation mare, which is all about sprinting. I could see him getting ten furlongs, but just don’t see him getting twelve at all.

The three best bred horses in the race are US Army Ranger, Moonlight Magic and Cloth of Stars and with no stand out form to go on those are the three that I’ve concentrated on to find my Derby bet.

US Army Ranger, is by Galileo, the best sire in history, out of Moonstone who finished second in the 2008 Oaks and then went on to win The Irish Oaks. There’s nothing wrong with his breeding in terms of staying the trip, however his for has holes in it and his greenness/inexperience is a cause for concern. On his debut, in April, he beat Aasheq who hasn’t done anything to uphold that form. His next start was in The Chester Vase, he would have been beaten that day if it wasn’t for questionable tactics on Port Douglas, who was also having to carry 4lbs more. There is a saying that goes “If you have four horses in your stable who can win The Derby, you probably have none”. I think that theory applies here and for that reason I cannot back him at the prices.

Moonlight Magic is out of Melikah who’s sire Lammtarra was a Derby, King George VI and Arc winner. Moonlight Magic was himself¬†sired by Cape Cross, who has produced Derby winners Golden Horn and Sea The Stars. From a form point of view he let himself down on his first start of the season when beaten into fifth behind Harzand and Idaho. He was much improved next time out when winning a Group Three, with Shogun and Idaho back in second and third. He has solid enough form lines to beat most of this field, however it’s all tied in with the O’Brien fourth and fifth string, there as I don’t fancy the chances of the stable number one I can’t be backing him.

Andre Fabre isn’t bringing CLOTH OF STARS over because he fancies a holiday. The Prix Du Jockey Club is being run in France on Sunday and this horse would have a good chance of winning that. He’s sired by Sea The Stars, who won the 2009 Derby, as well as The 2000 Guineas, Coral Eclipse, International Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes and The Arc. Cloth of Stars is out of a Kingmambo mare, Strawberry Fledge who is a full sister to 2007 Oaks winner Light Shift. Interestingly three of the last four Derby winners have been out of Kingmambo mares. Form wise he finished second to Robin of Navan on his final start as a two year old, in the Group One Criterium De Saint-Cloud, despite missing the break and not settling throughout the race, Idaho was back in fourth. He started his three year old campaign by winning the Group Three Prix La Force. On his last start he won the Group Two Prix Greffulhe by two and a half lengths, reversing form with Robin of Navan.

Cloth of Stars will be held up and delivered late, I’m sure that he’ll stay the trip and in a big field I think we’ll get a strong pace which will help him. He’s very well bred and has arguably better form in the book than most of the runners in the race.

BACK CLOTH OF STARS at 9.00 (Betfair Sportsbook, William Hill)

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I have this down as a two horse race, that not to take anything away from Simple Verse, but she is better over further. Postponed is a horse that I’m a huge fan of, I was on him heavily in Dubai at 2.50 (6/4), but I do think that was a weak Group One race. Therefore I’m not a backer at odds-on and will be backing FOUND. I think that she has the best form in the race, she won the Breeders Cup turf beating last years Derby and Arc winner Golden Horn. If she had been fit last June, she would have won the Oaks in my opinion. She won her re-appearance this season, which was followed up by finishing second behind Fascinating Rock when he had his perfect conditions. I believe that twelve furlongs, with a little bit of cut in the ground is the perfect conditions for Found. She’ll need the gaps to come, but with a strong pace likely I expect to see this field strung out and therefore the gaps are more likely to come. I though that she would be nearer the 3.25 (9/4) mark for this race, with Postponed at 2.62 (15/8).

BACK FOUND at 4.50 (General)

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