Book Review: Investec Derby
Sky Bet’s Head Racing Compiler Richard Horner with a horse-by-horse guide to the Investec Derby.
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Arod: Only the three runs so far for this progressive colt and after winning a poor Windsor maiden easily he stepped up markedly on that form with a very good second to subsequent French Derby winner The Grey Gatsby in the Dante at York where he was held up by Jamie Spencer and stayed on well at the end. His pedigree suggests he’s not certain to be suited by a strongly run mile-and-a-half on softish ground but his latest run will give connections some hope and trainer Peter Chapple- Hyam knows what is required to win the Derby as he had the 2007 winner Authorized.
Australia: Bred to be a star by a Derby winner Galileo out of an Oaks winner Ouija Board he isn’t letting the side down so far and gets the chance to prove it on Saturday. The winner of 2 of his 3 races as a juvenile he has long been touted by his trainer as one of the best horses the mighty Ballydoyle have ever had. The 2000 Guineas was always likely to be a sharp enough test for him but he ran a blinder to be third and winning the race on the stands side. The race is already working out very well and the step up in trip looks sure to suit. The one big question mark is how much rain there will be at Epsom before 4pm on Saturday and if as anticipated given the current forecast the ground is on the slow side how he will cope with it? The softer the ground the more generous the bookies will be about his odds come the off.
Ebanoran: Trained by one of the gentlemen of Irish racing John Oxx who has trained 2 Derby winners in Sea the stars in 2009 and also Sinndar in 2000 who like Ebanoran is owned by H H Aga Khan. Ebanoran came out just in front of Fascinating rock and Geoffrey Chaucer in the Derrinstown at Leopardstown a race that is nearly always a good pointer to Epsom but after wandering off a straight line was demoted to second. Opinions are divided as to which of the 3 will come out on top on Saturday but Ebanoran showed a willing attitude despite his wandering and should put up a good fight.
Fascinating Rock: He was the beneficiary of Ebanoran’s disqualification at Leopardstown and now goes to Epsom looking for four wins on the trot. Always held in high regard by trainer Dermot Weld he is another Irish trained runner that holds sound each way chances.
Geoffrey Chaucer: Hampered twice in the Derrinstown when third to the two horses just mentioned he should come on more than the other two as that was his seasonal debut and top jockey Ryan Moore takes over. He has won the race twice in the past four years so there is no better man for the job. Moore rode Orchestra for the stable to win at Chester beating another runner Romsdal but has chosen this colt and if stablemate Australia doesn’t do the business this one can pick up the pieces and looks the each-way bet for me at the moment.
Impulsive Moment: A winner of one of his three races he has a couple of lengths to make up on Western Hymn from Sandown and he will be doing well to trouble the judge here I’m afraid.
Kingfisher: Looks the Ballydoyle fourth string and even though a winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester, he doesn’t look good enough here. Indeed if the stable decide they need a pacemaker he would be the sacrificial lamb without doubt.
Kingston Hill: Unbeaten as a two-year-old, culminating in an impressive win in the Racing Post Trophy on very soft ground , he was fairly well beaten in the 2000 guineas but a mile on quickish ground isn’t what he needs now. The trip on Saturday on the likely slow ground looks sure to see him in a far better light and the more rain that falls between now and the off the more his chance will be enhanced and his odds contract.
Orchestra: A narrow winner of the Chester Vase last time beating Romsdal who renews rivalry here. He travelled really well that day throughout the race looking like winning comfortably before a late burst from the runner-up made him work hard at the finish. A big plus that he is proven over the Derby distance but it is surely significant that Ryan Moore deserts him for Geoffrey Chaucer.
Our Channel: The winner of the only Derby trial run at Epsom but a very poor one that hasn’t worked out well and it will be a big surprise if he makes much of an impression in the big race itself.
Pinzolo: James Doyle gets a nice spare ride on a lively outsider and he will be suited by a step up in trip and there are worse 66/1 shots after he showed he was going the right way beating subsequent easy Sandown winner Mister Carpenter last time out at Newmarket.
Red Galileo: Well beaten in two trials this year it is hard to see him making much impression here although he has been well fancied in the betting for both races as if better was expected. Ed Dunlop’s yard has been out of sorts for much of the season so a better showing wouldn’t be a huge shock now they’re running better.
Romsdal: Supplemented for the Investec Derby for £75k following his narrow defeat by Orchestra at Chester. The positives are trainer John Gosden is an excellent judge and wouldn’t suggest to his owner to party with the money if he didn’t think it would run very well and Richard Hughes is an excellent jockey to come in for the ride. The negatives are stable jockey William Buick prefers the chances of Western Hymn and Ryan Moore prefers Geoffrey Chaucer to Orchestra which must mean both top jockeys don’t rate the form of the Chester race particularly highly.
Sudden Wonder: A decent third in a moderate Lingfield Derby trial he has a bit of improving to do to feature here and his well behind True Story in Godolphin’s pecking order.
True Story: A very impressive winner of the Fielden stakes at Newmarket posting a good time, he was then a strong second favourite for Epsom but was a touch disappointing in the Dante when odds on for that race. The form has been boosted since by The Grey Gatsby but he would still need an improvement on that run to win here. Was it the softish ground at York that got him beat or just the turf at the Knavesmire which tends to suit certain horses these days ? He is likely to have similar slowish ground to cope with but Kieren Fallon has not lost faith in him so he’s not one to dismiss lightly.
Western Hymn: A fascinating runner as there is no doubt he has loads of ability but also a quirk or two to go with it which may cause problems at Epsom with the severe cambers. He is unbeaten in his 3 starts the pick of which a comfortable victory at Newbury when easily beating subsequent Lingfield Derby trial winner Snow Sky which would give him a big shout here. The problem is he hung pretty badly both ways when hitting the front at Sandown and then in a workout on the Lingfield AW course he again hung left handed when getting on top of his work companion. He has the ability to feature at the finish here but will probably take a special ride from William Buick to execute it.
Conclusion: The ground is going to have a big say in the betting and possibly the outcome of this year’s Investec Derby and I go for an each bet on Geoffrey Chaucer to upset his stablemate Australia with the quirky Western Hymn running a big race for third.
1st- Geoffrey Chaucer 2nd Australia 3rd Western Hymn.