The good thing about the Investec Derby Festival is that it can usually be relied upon to provide plenty of horses for your notebooks and trackers. Horses that didn’t handle coming down the hill, horses that were unlucky in the run or indeed using the meeting as a prep for Royal Ascot in just over two weeks. This years meeting was no exception with all this weeks’ eyecatchers coming from this weekend on the Downs.
My Derby & Oaks ante post bets were a shade disappointing; Horseplay could only finish 4th in the Oaks but she didn’t come down the hill very well and can be forgiven this effort. There are races to be won with her this season but maybe not at Group 1 level.
Meanwhile my Derby ante post selection Venice Beach was a well beaten 12th in his race. He was ridden very prominently in a race that was run at a furious pace from the off which really wasn’t the place to be and he weakened out of it between the final two furlongs. I don’t think he gave his true running on Saturday.
The horse he beat in the Chester Vase stablemate Wings Of Eagles won the Derby at an unconsidered 40/1 which in hindsight was to big a price considering Venice Beach was sent off at 12s. I had felt that the Chester Vase form was better than many pundits were giving it credit for but in all truth I still saw Wings Of Eagles as a St Léger horse rather than a Derby one.
Is the Oaks Form Better Than This Years Derby?
Of the two Classics I think we saw a better Oaks winner than a Derby winner, Enable proved too strong for odds on favourite Rhododendron, who had previously finished second in the 1000 Guineas, she had looked the winner as she loomed up alongside Enable between the final two furlongs but she was beaten by a better filly at 1m 4f and had to settle for a 5 length, 2nd placing at the line.. Enable trained by John Gosden handles the track superbly she is a filly with great balance and it would be great if she was take on the colts in the Irish Derby as it a race she could win. I doubt she will as the Irish Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks were mentioned as targets for her. I think she is a top class filly and probably better than her trainers 2014 winner Taghrooda who went on to beat the colts in that years King George. The runner up stays a mile and half but not as well as the winner and will likely now drop back to 1m 2f.
Epsom Oaks Eyecatcher
Alluringly is the filly I would take out of the race with the future in mind even though she was beaten 11 lengths by the winner into third. She was arguably the best looking filly in the paddock and she looks to have plenty of scope for improvement with racing. Aiden O’Brien often has a filly that makes rapid progress during the summer and I think this daughter of Fastnet Rock could be one to do so this year. One to note as she could yet end up a Group 1 filly by the end of the year at middles distances.
I have five other horses from this year’s Investec Derby Festival that should be put into your trackers.
Friday June 2nd
Sixties Groove – Jeremy Noseda – The four year old was having his first start since winning at Kempton back in November and this run looked like a prep for something else down the line. All his best form has come over further than the 1m ½f he ran here. He could never get into the race but was staying on well at the finish into 7th. This run will have brought him on fitness wise and the gelding operation he had over the winter looks to have been a success. There should be a nice handicap over 1m 2f+ in him this summer, when he gets a sound surface.
Idaho – Aiden O’Brien – The four year old was 3rd in last years Derby and 2nd in the Irish equivalent before unseating his rider when still going very well in last years St Leger. He was making his seasonal reappearance in the Coronation Cup and proved to be very weak in the market before the race drifting out in the betting from 6/1 to and eventual SP of 11/1. Got outpaced when the race really began in earnest two furlongs out but he stayed on nicely at the finish to take 6th under a tender ride. Clearly he was in need of the run here and will strip much fitter for this outing. The way he was travelling in last years St Leger suggests he will be worth a go at 1m 6f and could even get further this year. Not one to give up on just yet!
Saturday June 3rd
Desert Skyline – David Elsworth – The three year old had just been touched off in a listed race on his seasonal reappearance at Newmarket on his previous start and was strong in the market to go one better here. He found the 1m 2f around Epsom on the short side but was doing his best work at the finish. On breeding he should get further than this, half brother to horses that stayed 1m 6f+ and his dam won a Group 2 in France over 1m 4f. Has only had 5 career starts so there should be a bit more improvement in the gelding and he looks capable of landing a race off his present mark.
Boom The Groom – Tony Carroll – The ‘Dash’ over the world fastest 5f is usually a race that provides plenty of horses for the notebook and this years renewal certainly has. I have six that went into the notebook after the race for various reasons. The six year old Boom the Groom who had run well in this race in the past was well backed before this year’s race. He didn’t get the clearest of runs at the furlong mark but was staying on well to the line to finish a 1 ½ length 6th. He improved well on turf last season winning at Goodwood & York over 5f and is only 2lb higher than for the last of those wins. He was said to have lost a shoe during the race and looks capable of being competitive in these big field sprint handicaps over the coming months.
Other worth noting from the race are the fast finishing Dark Shot (2nd), Edward Lewis (5th), who didn’t did get the best of passages but still looks on the upgrade and Duke of Firenze (3rd) who is being aimed at the Group 1 Nunthorpe at the Ebor Meeting a race he could easily go well in on arguably his favourite track.
Carntop – Ralph Beckett – The four year old seemed to bounce back to form here in the first time hood with a promising 3rd in this 1m 4f handicap, doing all his best work at the finish despite not getting the best of runs on the inside in the final furlong. A winner as a two year old at Newmarket he was a close up 2nd in the Lingfield Derby Trial last year before finishing a respectable 5th in the Group 2 King Edward Stakes at Royal Ascot. Didn’t beat a rival on his two subsequent start including on his seasonal reappearance so this was a step back in the right direction. There is race in the horse if he can build on this run. Owned by the Prince of Wales & Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap at Royal Ascot could next on the geldings agenda a race his trainer won last year with Kinema. Another who could be heading for the same race is Shraaoh who was very well backed to make a winning seasonal reappearance but could only finish 4th but his jockey was at pains not give the horse to hard a race.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks punting.