It's time to put on make up, it's time to light the lights....it's DERBY DAY! Shame it's run at a goat track, but apparently that's explained away as a 'true test' of a horse.
Step forward William Kedjanyi, @keejayOV to preview the big race.
£1,325,000 Group 1
1m4f for 3yo breeding prospects (no geldings)
1630 local 0130 AEST
Advice: 1 pt win Jack Hobbs (5/1 Paddy Power, Stan James), 3 pts John Gosden to win Derby (evs Betfred)
Already Advised: 1 pt each/way Epicuris (33/1 Boylesports)
Ante Post: 1 pt each/way Elm Park (10/1 general), 1 pt each/way Hans Holbein (14/1 general), Ladbrokes St Leger
Best of Times: Didn’t take to soft ground on debut as a juvenile but shaped as stayer of promise on two other occasions and nothing not to like about his return when defying greenness to take the Newmarket Stakes on return. Sent off favourite for the Cocked Hat Stakes afterwards and while he lost no caste in defeat to Storm The Stars, hard to see that form being turned around.
Carbon Dating: Looks capable of picking up a maiden but well behind Cristophermarlowe and Success Days here and out of his depth.
Elm Park: Came into his own as staying 2 year old, signing off with impressive Racing Post Trophy win at Doncaster (soft). Return a little delayed and got sense he still wasn’t fully fit when returning at York for the Dante Stakes, so shaped very well until lack of a run told then when third there behind Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs. Track and firm ground a worry for many but handles safe surface (weather should ensure safe ground) although promises to improve more than anyone for the extra distance and big run expected. Changed legs a lot at Breakfast In The Stars here.
Epicuris: Looked prime contender for middle distance prizes when landing the Prix De Conde and Criterium De-Saint Cloud in fine style last year but nothing close to that form when over-energetic front running left him as a sitting duck on return in Prix La Force. Questions to answer over that but retains significant potential still.
Giovanni Canaletto: Long been high on the list of Derby contenders from Ballydoyle (aiming for four wins in a row) after wide margin maiden success at Leopardstown and reputation has only risen after disappointments of more fancied stablemates but unable to avoid defeat when second in Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh (10f). While obvious disappointment he couldn’t justify short price, was caught well behind in slowly run race and when finding full flight, took several lengths out of winner (took time to get going). Should come on plenty for that run and relish this trip, especially if it’s a well run one, so not discounted.
Golden Horn: Created fine impression when getting better of Storm The Stars in Nottingham maiden and built on that readily with taking win in Fielden Stakes on return, after which, Prix Du Jockey Club was nominated as the main target. Then went to the Dante and swept past Elm Park and Jack Hobbs in fine style, posting very difficult choice posed to owner Antony Oppenheimer (absolutely steadfast in belief that his best trip will be 10 furlongs, while his family is full of milers). Missed Chantilly and now comes here with outstanding credentials on formbook. Never stronger than at the end of Dante, so reason to be optimistic about him staying the trip and if he does, the one they all have to beat.
Hans Holbein: Just the one run as a juvenile but it was very promising one so disappointment when unable to get off the mark on seasonal reappearance. Came on a great amount for that when strong at the end in winning maiden at Leopardstown. Substitute for Giovanni Canaletto when stepped upto 12 furlongs in the Chester Vase but relished the trip when coming out much the best from Storm the Stars there under front-running ride. Probably needs to improve still but no reason why he shouldn’t and likely that he’ll improve for having a pace to follow so respected.
Jack Hobbs: Well fancied for maiden at Wolverhampton which he won in very good style, but jumped straight into this picture when destroying handicap field by 12 lengths at Sandown on seasonal return, earning him shot at the Dante Stakes. Creditable second there behind Golden Horn, showing greenness until a furlong out from the top of the straight (since bought by Godolphin). Impressed with handling of the track when working out here recently but one would hope that he comes on significantly or greenness could prove a significant hindrance. Sire Halling has had numerous stayers amongst his best progeny and operates at 30% from 12+ onwards while influence of Swain is encouraging. Should be up to going close.
Moheet: Made fantastic impression when smashing expectations on debut and taking apart Salisbury field on debut in maiden. backed into 2/1 for return in the Craven when he looked as if further would improve him when a staying on third there. Better than finishing position of eighth in 2000 Guineas would suggest when everything that could go wrong did go wrong but still has plenty to find here and others appeal more.
Rogue Runner: Sauntered clear of opposition in the fashion that a 1/10 shot should at Hoppegarten, but made much harder work of things there over a mile and the a well beaten fifth in Group 3 as favourite. Doesn’t look good enough to compete here.
Storm The Stars: Bumped into two very good sorts on two maiden starts last year (Racing Post Trophy second Aloft, favourite Golden Horn) so returning effort at Newmarket desperately disappointing but quickly off the mark at Leicester and second to Hans Holbein in Chester Vase a creditable effort, one which he arguably improved upon when landing the Cocked Hat Stakes in taking style from Best of Times. No surprise where he to improve further but others appeal more, not least Hans Holbein.
Success Days: Didn’t pull up any trees as a 2 year old but came into his own when stepped upto 10 furlongs, winning Rated race at Cork before wide margin success in Ballysax and Derrinstown Stud Stakes. Supplemented here but would want masses of rain here and both those races fell into his lap, so much to answer questions on those scores and easier opportunities will come for him.
This does not look to be a good 3-year-old crop in Britain or Ireland and this affair, with so many having disappointed and many weak trials both in Britain or Ireland. The Dante, so often a springboard to success looks to be the strongest trial by some way and all of Golden Horn, JACK HOBBS and Elm Park looks to have realistic chances. The favourite has the race at his mercy on that evidence but with a strong pace likely his stamina will be called into question and the fact that owner-breeder Antony Oppenheimer did not have the race in mind and sees him as a 10 furlong horse must come to the forefront of those supporting him. If he stays victory is within his grasp, but Jack Hobbs’s pedigree promises improvement for this step up in trip and if able to curb his greenness today he has a major chance of providing a long overdue Derby winner for Godolphin. His work at Breakfast With The Stars was exemplary and the track should hold no fears for him and with each/way With each/way prices gone about him, the evens that John Gosden takes the derby with either him or Golden Horn looks to be a solid wager.
Elm Park didn’t impress there but few horses will improve more for this trip and there should be plenty left in the tank after his reappearance in the Dante, so he has to be given a realistic chance for today and also, looking forward, the St Leger, for which he should be backed. Another realistic Leger contender is Chester Vase winner Hans Holbein, who looks set to come into his own over staying trips on breeding (being by Montjeu out of a Shirley Heights mare) and he looks worth supporting for that contest despite holding valid claims here too after an impressive defeat of Storm The Stars, who beat Best of Times in the Cocked Hat Stakes. Following confirmation of Ryan Moore taking the mount on Giovanni Canaletto – who promises to improve for a strongly run 12 furlongs - his price has collapsed, although others still make more appeal here. Ante post bet Epicuris’s form has had his form let down in the Prix Du Jockey Club, and he may improve for that return and these conditions.