Alex Hammond favours Sir Dragonet over Anthony Van Dyck in their Irish Derby rematch

Alex Hammond Investec Derby blog
Alex Hammond Investec Derby blog

Alex Hammond feels Sir Dragonet is the value call to gain revenge on Anthony Van Dyck should they clash again in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

A thrilling Derby Alex, what was your take on the Epsom Classic?

I felt that it was an exciting Investec Derby to watch, unpredictable and dramatic, but that we didn’t see a superstar middle distance colt in the Blue Riband. Aidan O’Brien did a ‘Gigginstown’ in that he had more than half the field in the race, but despite that, it wasn’t clear beforehand which was the best from Ballydoyle (I’m not sure we still know who will come out on top should they meet again either).

Sir Dragonet was the buzz horse after his eye-catching win in the Chester Vase and the mount of Ryan Moore, but he could only finish fifth in that bunch finish behind stablemate Anthony Van Dyck. It was undoubtedly a top class effort for a horse with very little experience though and he’s now Sky Bet’s 7/2 second favourite for the Irish Derby behind the Derby winner, who is a 7/4 shot. At those prices I definitely prefer the former.

There should be plenty more to come from him. Of the other Epsom performances, it was great to see Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon finish second, proving the mile and a half wasn’t a problem.

Anthony Van Dyck wins the Investec Derby
Anthony Van Dyck wins the Investec Derby

Japan ran a blinder in third and Broome went into most people’s St Leger notebook after his run in fourth, which was a decent effort considering he was stuck out wide. He’s 6/1 with Sky Bet for the Doncaster Classic.

The major disappointments were Telecaster and Bangkok. Both colts were fairly lit up by the occasion and ran keenly, but despite that to finish last and second last was a blow for connections. I’ve no doubt they will be winning decent prizes before the season is out, but their Derby dreams are over. Bangkok will probably be seen at his best over a mile-and-a-quarter while Telecaster’s Dante performance may have temporarily left its mark.

What else caught your eye on the Epsom Downs?

Frankie Dettori’s ride in the Investec Oaks is one highlight for me. We know the effervescent Italian is a man for the big occasions, but he was brilliant on Anapurna and most likely was the difference between winning and losing. He manoeuvred the John Gosden-trained filly into a great position early from their draw in stall three and got a lovely run up the inside to hold off the strong challenge of Pink Dogwood.

She was game, Frankie was game and it was a very satisfactory result. As you know I was a fan of Mehdaayih beforehand and I haven’t written her off just yet. She was hampered more than once after not getting any sort of a run and whilst she wasn’t an unlucky loser, she was capable of much better than her seventh placed finish.

One thing the weekend did affirm, is my belief that Enable can win a record breaking third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October. There is clearly no standout superstar in the middle distance division (both home and abroad) amongst the Classic generation and nothing in my mind that can threaten her bid for a third Arc, unless there is some serious improvement in the next four months from one of her potential rivals. Enable misses Royal Ascot as it will come too soon for her, but the plan is the Coral-Eclipse for which she is currently 3/1 favourite with Sky Bet. She is 7/2 market leader for the Arc.

Anapurna has Frankie Dettori jumping for joy after the Investec Oaks
Anapurna has Frankie Dettori jumping for joy after the Investec Oaks

Still a couple of weeks to go before we are in the middle of Royal Ascot, but a competitive weekend of racing to come. Do you have a winner for us this weekend?

Haydock’s meeting this weekend is always ultra-competitive and there are a couple of horses I like on Saturday. Firstly, Mankib has a chance of reversing placings with Safe Voyage in the Group Three John Of Gaunt Stakes (3.35pm). The William Haggas-trained five-year-old was unable to concede 3lbs to John Quinn’s runner in a Listed race over course and distance last time out, but off level weights he might be able to turn that around. He’s a 6/1 shot with Sky Bet.

True Self will be an interesting runner if she comes over for the Pinnacle Stakes. She has been in superb form in Ireland for Willie Mullins, winning her last four starts after switching codes to run on the Flat after a second placed finish on her debut on the level. She steps up from Listed company into a Group Three for the first time, but is rated higher than any of her potential rivals and should take plenty of beating. She’s 13/8 favourite with Sky Bet. Mullins is operating at a 48% strike rate at the moment, quite incredible.

Trainer Willie Mullins holds court at his Closutton base
Trainer Willie Mullins - string in fine form


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