Don't miss Matt Brocklebank's latest column as a 50/1 shot features is his long-range staking plan for the Investec Derby.
Recommended bets: Investec Derby
An exciting period of Investec Derby trials kicks off this week, with Epsom and Sandown getting the ball rolling, and it looks a good time to dip into the market before getting aboard the roller-coaster.
As things stand it’s Too Darn Hot who tops the betting in spite of missing the 2000 Guineas following a setback this spring.
Whether you’re a fan of Too Darn Hot or not, with John Gosden’s colt ranging from 5/2 to 6/1 in the Derby market there’s clearly plenty of uncertainty around him with the Irish 2000 Guineas and Dante Stakes at York now pencilled in as options for his seasonal return.
His pedigree screams middle-distances in fairness, being a brother to So Mi Dar and Lah Ti Dar, but he showed tremendous speed throughout his juvenile season which featured one win at a mile and three over seven furlongs.
He’ll be a horse for the ages if he gets a mile and a half but they don’t come along often and as things stand he's well worth opposing with one or two stamina doubts as well as his current well-being in limbo.
The Guineas remains a key Derby trial but current favourite Ten Sovereigns isn’t a Derby type, though his stablemate Magna Grecia could emerge as a massive player at Epsom with a prominent showing at Newmarket.
His Vertem Futurity form from Doncaster has already worked out well with Great Scot finishing second in the Greenham, King Ottokar impressing at Newbury and Kick On landing the Feilden. Turgenev – seventh on Town Moor – puts it to the test further at Epsom on Wednesday.
A mile and a quarter might be as far as Magna Grecia will want to be going strictly on pedigree but his dam is by Galileo and he shaped at two like a horse with a huge amount of scope for improvement this season.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien obviously has strength in his armoury and Broome has already stamped his mark on trials season with an impressive victory in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.
He’s bound for the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial back at Leopardstown and already looks right up there in the pecking order with only Japan shorter than him in the Derby betting.
Japan took the transition from maiden to Group Two well when winning the Beresford Stakes from stablemate MOUNT EVEREST at Naas at the end of September and his pedigree is particularly eye-catching with Epsom in mind as his full-sister Secret Gesture was second in the Oaks for Ralph Beckett in 2013.
But at the prices it’s Mount Everest (25/1, General) who rates the best bet from Ballydoyle as he’s obviously such a classy colt and promises to improve considerably from two to three.
Another son of Galileo, his brother Yucatan was also chinned in the Beresford as a juvenile but he went on to win Group races, including over a mile and a half, and looking back at that Naas run when last seen strongly suggests Mount Everest may have been the best horse on the day.
He was sent off 11/8 favourite under Ryan Moore and travelled supremely well into the lead with a couple of furlongs to run, only to show his inexperience and get chased down close home having seemingly thought he’d done enough.
The discrepancy between he and Japan in the Derby market looks skewed on that basis and is likely to be rectified once we see Mount Everest in a trial – he’s entered in the Dante but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him line up at Chester given O’Brien will be keen to test him mentally before the main event.
Charlie Appleby’s Derby contenders will inevitably come under close scrutiny after his breakthrough win with Masar last June. Line Of Duty boasts the best two-year-old form having won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf from an uncompromising position and Appleby is on record stating he feels Epsom will suit the son of Galileo.
But it’s Dubawi colt Al Hilalee who has attracted most support this spring and it appears he could be the chosen one for the boys in blue.
He was two from two last season but hasn’t been seen since August and will have to be passed over for now given he’s no bigger than 16/1.
It will be interesting to see if Al Hilalee reappears in the Dante where he could face not only Too Darn Hot but also the lightly-raced ALMANIA (50/1, General), and it’s Sir Michael Stoute’s runner who appeals more at the prices at this early stage.
He’s a son of 2014 Derby winner Australia, whose first crop of three-year-olds have started the campaign well and look to be improving for middle-distances as you’d expect.
Stoute saw fit to start Almania over six furlongs at Ascot in July so he must have been showing plenty of zip and while he came up short that day, he put the experience to good use when winning a Sandown maiden the following month.
He showed a really tenacious attitude that day, looking held by Buffalo River at the furlong marker before knuckling down really well to ultimately score with something to spare.
The pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third and while the second is only rated 89 after taking three more goes to get off the mark, Almania still looked a work in progress with a big engine.
He’ll need to progress a huge amount to end up winning the Derby in six weeks but Stoute has won the Dante six times, while Workforce was beaten at York before winning at Epsom and he went to the Knavesmire on the back of just a maiden.
Almania is the trainer’s only realistic Dante entry at the time of writing – the other two being Sangarius, who isn’t in the Derby, and Deal A Dollar who was beaten at Windsor on his comeback – so the 50/1 looks worth taking about a horse who could shorten a fair bit even once running plans become clearer.
Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle
- 1pt e.w. Skardu at 33/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt win Fairyland at 12/1
- 0.5pts win Zagitova at 50/1
- 0.5pts win Secret Thoughts at 33/1
- 1pt e.w. Mount Everest at 25/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt e.w. Almania at 50/1 (1/5 1,2,3)