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Derby preview I

It's going to be a cracking weekend of feature racing around the globe, and especially for the occasion, I've commissioned two Derby previews with contrasting opinions. First up, going against the Coolmore bandwagon, is David Plane, @planey2k and blogging at Palphabet
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This Saturday, I am hoping John Gosden and William Buick can follow up last year's St Leger win with Masked Marvel, by overturning the 2000 Guineas winner and clear favourite, Camelot, who is best priced 4-6 with Paddy Power.   As I started writing, Ballydoyle's hand was exceptionally strong, although with Imperial Monarch looking bound for Chantilly.  At the final declarations this morning, however, Aidan O'Brien's initial quintet of runners, which I thought would be reduced to a 'mere' quartet comprising Astrology, Father of Science, Tower Rock alongside their Classic-winning stablemate, is now just a double act:

I have layed the market leader for one main reason.  Namely that Joseph O'Brien talked of his Guineas tactics at the weekend in an excellent interview with David Walsh in the Sunday Times, and I'm just not convinced I buy it.  Camelot only won by a neck from a field that was not exactly drawing superlatives from the lips of the pundits and whilst I acknowledge that JOB is a talented individual, who seems to possess the calmness of Roger Federer, with a similar ability to keep the sweat at bay, this is his sternest test yet and he will not want to get stuck at the rear, even if he does harbour thoughts of a MB-style fist-pump (unlikely).  

I was more than happy to back Frankel two weeks ago at 3-10, in the same way that Big Buck's looks value at 1-4 and Black Caviar more competitive than all cash ISAs, often returning a 5% return-on-investment when bookies down under have been generous enough to offer 1-20.  The Derby is different, though, and I'd rather oppose the tide of support for the father-son champion elect.

Having said all of that, Camelot is a classy unbeaten Montjeu colt boasting unbeaten figures of 11-1 with a blistering turn of foot and will undoubtedly stay the trip, with Lester Piggott himself saying that all young Joseph has to do is "steer him round the course" and many quarters of the press seeing it as a foregone conclusion, especially in a field with the fewest number of racers in over 100 years! 

Three reasons why Camelot will the Derby  

Still, at that price I'll happily be taking him on and have ploughed into Thought Worthy, covering all other eventualities with the initial Camelot lay: 

Ryan Moore, who was scathing in his attack on what he perceived as unworthy entries in this race last year, when he disappointed on the Queen's horse, Carlton House, rides the other Coolmore colt Astrology.  His sire, Galileo, gave us the aforementioned Frankel, his full brother Noble Mission and last year's Derby runner-up Treasure Beach.  Moore is leading the way in the Top Flat Jockey 2012 market and will enjoy the added freedom running in Camelot's shadow.

I was always going to tip Thought Worthy, wasn't I?!
That Noble Mission was beaten at Newmarket by Thought Worthy gives hope that with Buick's bad experience round this track last year (when he finished 8th with Masked Marvel) and his additional years earning his living in the saddle over Joseph O'Brien, he might be able to follow up his 2011 classic win with victory here.   I should declare an interest - I have backed Buick for top jock 2012 and highlighted Thought Worthy as one to look out for in a previous post:  

Bonfire, I hear, is somewhat of a nutter.  You'd imagine his twitter account to resemble the hilarious musings of @weirdhorse but connections have been playing it down, and Andrew Balding's Dante Stakes hero has already put the O'Briens firmly in their place once this season, when Ernest Hemmingway, also of Galileo, was 14 lengths back in last place at York.  The last time I was told to be wary of a headcase horse was when Sanctuaire was partnered by Daryl Jacob in Ruby Walsh's absence at Sandown Park.  Many said that DJ would not be able to handle the horse's temperament.  He cruised to a massive 17-length win over Grade 1 winner Somersby.

Main Sequence made the front page of the Racing Post last week when connections bullishly staked their claim for the Derby after success in the Lingfield all-weather trial over the same 1m 4f trip from Shantaram, and another contender on Saturday, Cavaleiro, who was clearly beaten by 6 lengths and remains a 66-1 shot.  Cavaleiro is partnered at Epsom by red-hot Hayley Turner, fresh from receiving her Glamour Magazine Sportswoman of the Year gong this week.  Who can argue with that?!

Mickdaam, who has been relatively heavily raced and has formlines over another of Andrew Baldings, Minimise Risk (having won by just over a length on May 10 at Chester) completes the single-figure line-up with Rugged Cross, who finished third, but only a short distance behind Thought Worthy and Noble Mission over 1m 2f at Newmarket.

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