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Derby Preview II

An illustrious race such as the Derby deserves more than one point of view so my former colleague and betting industry veteran Jon Thompson, @jaytee6666, has analysed the field in great depth for us.
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Since 1780 the Premier Classic in the UK has been run on what is just about the most undulating racecourse on the planet! The 2012 Epsom Derby will have the world holding its breath once again for around 2.5 minutes but this year with only nine runners surely there cannot be a hard luck story...or can there?
 
It's the smallest field size for 105 years!
 
The race has been a tactical challenge for jockeys since time began! In the 70's and 80's we applauded the maestro at work in Lester Piggott who simply rode others 'to sleep' around the place to the young genius of last years winner Mickael Barzalona who with a timed challenge so perfect that he was 100% vertical in the saddle when Pour Moi passed the winning post.
 
The 2012 renewal is all about ONE horse - Camelot
 
Trained at Ballydoyle by the genius that we all know as Aidan O'Brien this amazing looking colt by Montjeu is unbeaten in 3 starts and will be sent off the hottest favourite since Authorized broke Frankie Dettori's Epsom hoodoo in 2007.
 
O'Brien is due a Derby winner. The prolific Group 1 trainer has been 2nd in the race in the past 3 years with all runners racing in owner Derrick Smith's colours as Camelot will be come 4pm on Saturday. It's 10 years now since AOB won back to back Epsom Classics with the majestical Galileo in 2001 and High Chaparral a year later.
 
Camelot has been groomed for stardom since his debut appearance at Leopardstown on the 14th July 2011. Just 3 months later he stepped up from defeating a 76 rated horse to winning the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster with the 105 rated Fencing toiling back in 3rd place.
 
It wasn't just the step up in class that impressed that day. Camelot was quiet and composed in the paddock and wasn't asked a serious question by jockey Joseph O'Brien until the final furlong where he sprinted clear and straight to the top of the Ante-Post Derby betting market. After the race the horse again took it all in his stride almost nodding his head in acknowledgment of his greatness to the racing hacks and photographers that stood before him.
 
His reappearance in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on the 5th May left us breathless with anticipation yet again. Restrained back in the field by his brilliant young jockey he was then produced through horses and at just the right time to win comfortably but even more importantly giving the horse an invaluable education. His trainer quoted that Camelot was a 'super-intelligent, a super-quick thinker but very calm' after he won at Doncaster and he could well have been saying the same think about his jockey at Newmarket when his son Joseph really was a delight to watch!  
 
As mentioned earlier if you never get to see another racehorse again then make sure you see Camelot as he really is a perfect specimen. Out of the Kingmambo sired mare Tarfah there is additional pressure due to the sad demise of his sire Montjeu earlier this year after a short illness at age 16. An Epsom Derby victory followed likely by a visit to Doncaster for the St.Leger would make Camelot the first male Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky back in 1970 ironically also trained at Ballydoyle by Vincent O'Brien - no relation.
 
A long fruitful career at stud would then surely beckon.
 
So is the 2012 Epsom Derby really all about ONE horse? In my own opinion then yes it is. I expect Camelot to win and I expect him to win in the style of a potential super star that can have us talking about more than Frankel for the rest of 2012 and beyond! But there are 8 rivals so let's take a look at them and examine their credentials.
 
Astrology - The 2nd member of the Ballydoyle team to take his chance and to be ridden by Ryan Moore. A comfortable winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester when the entire meeting was run on ground that was close to unracable at times, however this colt did nothing wrong in his 11 length win and has clearly progressed from 2 to 3. Aidan O'Brien horses have run well when appearing as the stables 2nd or 3rd string in the past but it would be a major surprise if this horse troubled his more prominent stable mate at Saturday. A likely factor in the early pace he will certainly be no pacemaker but will make sure they are moving fast enough when required!
 
Bonfire - Clear 2nd favourite with the Bookmakers and bidding to bring the Derby Trophy back to the Balding family for the first time since 1971 when trainer Andrew's father Ian won the race with Mill Reef. It's not just all about the trainer with this horse either as he is the latest success story for Highclere Thoroughbreds - probably the most successful syndicate owners ever in UK horse racing. 2 wins from 3 to date he was an impressive winner of the Dante Stakes at York which has long been a terrific prep race for Epsom. 
 
There are however several question marks against him. He was 'ponied' to the start on his debut and again showed signs of temperament at York. The other main question is his breeding and quite whether he will stay the demanding 1 mile and 4 furlongs as well as deal with the twist and turns that Epsom presents. In winning at York Bonfire displayed somewhat of a scampering action but he was tenderly handled that day and Jimmy Fortune will again take the ride.
 
Cavaleiro - Trained by Marcus Tregoning and ridden by the wonderful Hayley Turner who becomes only the 2nd female rider to last take part in race after Alex Greaves back in 1996. Turner who famously rode 2 Group 1 winners in 2011 will be hoping not to finish in last place as Greaves did on Portuguese Lil 16 years ago. Cavaleiro is a nice colt but already has almost 7 lengths to find with Main Sequence and one can't see him figuring on this occasion.
 
Main Sequence - Another interesting contender and clearly one that has also improved dramatically from 2 to 3 years. Sent off at odds of 50/1 on his debut at Yarmouth back in September 2011 this colt is now unbeaten in 4 starts and goes from strength to strength. In fact prior to his last race his owners had to pay a supplementary entry fee as he was not entered in the race but when your owned by the Niarchos Family then that doesn't present too much of a problem!
 
Reported as 'lazy' at home by both trainer David Lanigan and jockey Ted Durcan it is possible that his last victory has been under estimated. In defeating Shantaram by 3/4 of a length the pair pulled 6 lengths clear of Cavaleiro who is considered good enough to take his rival on yet again. Well supported from as big a price as 25/1 just 3 weeks ago he will be sent off at less than half those odds this weekend and can run into a place if he is to perform up to his confident jockeys expectations.
 
Mickdaam - trained by the likable Richard Fahey and ridden by the equally likable Paul Hanagan this colt faces a step up in class from his Chester Vase victory last time. He is clearly another that will go on to win more races but it won't be an Epsom Derby I'm afraid and a slight injury set-back last week won't have helped.
 
Minimise Risk - Trainer Andrew Balding's 2nd runner in the race and ridden by Jamie Spencer. Presumably being sent to Epsom to keep Bonfire company in his horse box... I doubt he will be keeping anything company in the Epsom home straight!
 
Rugged Cross - Trained by Henry Candy and ridden by Dane O'Neil. Candy is a very astute trainer but surely this is another runner whose connections are simply looking for a nice day out? The winner of a now moderate looking Convivial at York last August he has something to find with Thought Worthy on their last run and a mountain to climb with the likes of Camelot, Bonfire and Main Sequence.
 
Thought Worthy - When trainer John Gosden runs anything in a classic you would be mad not to give it consideration as he simply doesn't waste anyone's time with days out! Stable jockey William Buick takes the ride on this colt by Dynaformer who was a winner at Newmarket last time defeating none other than the vastly over-hyped full brother to Frankel - Noble Mission.
The race in question was the Fairway Stakes and a race that has gone on to produce huge race winners in the likes of Red Rocks, Lucarno and even Green Moon who went on to finish 2nd in a Caulfield Cup (keeps the editor happy!) Thought Worthy is an interesting runner and can fill the remaining place.
 
So to wrap it all up it's Camelot in decent style for me with Editors all over the world considering their headlines as soon as he crosses the winning line. 'Camelot puts them to the sword' - 'King Camelot' - 'The Real Camelot' - to name but 3!
 
My 1-2-3 is as follows: 
 
1. Camelot
2. Main Sequence
3. Thought Worthy

 
Good Luck and enjoy what should be a new super star for racing! 
    
Jon Thompson

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