Picks from the Paddock: Can O’Brien produce another Derby winner?
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16:30 Epsom - The Derby
Often referred to as the Blue Ribband, The Derby Stakes is Britain's richest race and the second leg of the three classics, after the Guineas at Newmarket and before the St Leger at Doncaster.
Open to three year olds and run at a trip of one mile four furlongs, The Derby is run at Epsom Downs and was inaugurated in 1780. Staged each year at Epsom Downs, the complex nature of the track often allows for thrilling and wayward finishes, when looking to pick out the winner, the Guineas has proved a key trial in recent years.
Aidan O'Brien has saddled six winners since the turn of the century and has been in flying form, having sent out the winners of both Guineas at Newmarket. Mob handed here, discounting any of his seven runners appears a thankless task though there are clues on jockey bookings.
Sir Dragonet is unbeaten in two career starts to date, sent off a relatively unfancied 14/1 shot on debut at Tipperary, he ran out a ready winner before being sent to Chester for a trial. Once again, relatively unfancied and overlooked by Ryan Moore, he produced a devastating performance to win by eight lengths and shoot right to the top of the market for this. Concerns for the favourite surely rest on the going as twice he has won with cut, however, there is nothing to suggest he wont handle quicker ground and he did look beautifully balanced the last day.
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Broome and Anthony Van Dyck both looked a little workmanlike last time, that being said the pair appeared to get better the further they went and further improvement for this extra yardage looks nailed on. Japan looked devoid of tactical pace when comfortably beaten in the Dante, granted a strong pace it is easy to see him running on past beaten horses although the St Leger may well prove to be his day.
Telecaster appeared to get embroiled in an unsustainable pace war in the Dante last time, always on the sharp end he looked almost certain to be swallowed up inside the final furlong before remarkably finding more. Without an entry for this, his connections have had to stump up £80,000 to get him in and one would hope, on the back of such a high class effort last time, he can repay the faith with a massive run here.
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Madhmoon shaped nicely in the Guineas, finishing a highly credible fourth. This step up in trip poses a serious question mark of him although Kevin Prendergast wont have sent him over for the fun of it and his tactical speed ought to enable him to hold a good position for as long as his stamina lasts.
Bangkok hails from the yard of Andrew Balding and carries the colours of the King Power owners, that trainer/owner relationship has flourished in no uncertain terms this season and this could be a very big day for them. Impressive when winning the Sandown Classic Trial and showing very good tactical speed throughout under De Sousa, this trip ought to pose no problems and respect must be afforded.
Humanitarian is an interesting outsider, he must find plenty of improvement to play a part though his trainer is no stranger to classic success and he at least remains an interesting sort. Line Of Duty is another interesting outsider, from another yard firing it would be no surprise to see him fare better than the last time although he does have questions to answer.
In summary, the fairy-tale would be Telecaster winning, he certainly has every chance despite his off putting low draw, despite that, the stats all point to Aidan O'Brien landing this, as such, despite reservations about the ground, Sir Dragonet is taken to swoop late under Ryan Moore and retain his unbeaten record.
SIR DRAGONET (WIN)
14:00 Epsom - Red Hot (WIN)
14:35 Epsom - Nyaleti (WIN)
15:10 Epsom - Zaaki (WIN)
15:45 Epsom - Duke Of Firenze (WIN)
16:30 Epsom - Sir Dragonet (WIN)
Dean Kilbryde - Black Lotus (15:40 Doncaster)
Chris Connolly - Red Hot (14:00 Epsom)
Matt Polley - Mandarin (15:40 Doncaster)