Simon Holt previews Saturday's Investec Derby card at Epsom and he's siding with Madhmoon in the Classic.
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Stamina is very important over the stiff mile and a half at Epsom but class counts too and MADHMOON can prove he's got what it takes in Saturday's Investec Derby.
The Kevin Prendergast-trained colt, who runs in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, ran an eye-catching race in last month's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket where he finished strongly to take fourth behind Magna Grecia, the pair racing on different parts of the course.
Madhmoon may well have been in the wrong place that day given that the third Skardu (who raced with him) turned the tables on Magna Grecia behind Phoenix Of Spain in last Saturday's Irish 2000 Guineas but the overall level of the form looks high.
Beaten over an inadequate seven furlongs at Leopardstown on his reappearance (appeared in need of the run), the selection put up a smart performance on the same course last September when easily accounting for Broome, one of Aidan O'Brien's leading Derby contenders.
The big question that Madhmoon, the mount of Chris Hayes, needs to answer is whether he can stay the distance. At Newmarket, he certainly looked as though further would suit but it's a big jump up from a mile to a mile and a half, especially at Epsom.
By the Guineas winner Dawn Approach, the horse who started a hot favourite to win the 2013 Derby only to pull too hard, out of a Haafhd (another Guineas winner) mare, there is a possibility that a mile and a quarter may be his ideal trip.
Yet Madhmoon's shrewd connections seem confident he will stay and he has the gutsy attitude of a horse who will see it out. His form looks some of the best on offer in my opinion and his odds are attractive.
Broome (Donnacha O’Brien), a son of the Derby winner Australia, has won both his starts this season and looked ready for a step up in trip when taking a while to hit top stride in the Derrinstown Stud Trial at Leopardstown (1m2f) last time.
He is bound to stay well as should the supplemented Sir Dragonet, the mount of stable number one rider Ryan Moore, who was the most impressive Derby trial winner in the Chester Vase in which he slammed his stable-companion Norway by eight lengths.
Unraced as a two-year-old and set to have only his third career start at Epsom, this handsome son of Camelot is light on experience and both the track and the likely fast ground could prove challenging. But he was unmistakably good last time and could be Ballydoyle's best hope in a seven-horse attack which also includes the Lingfield Derby Trial winner Anthony Van Dyck and Dee Stakes winner Circus Maximus, the mount of Oaks-winning rider Frankie Dettori.
O'Brien also runs Japan who was never dangerous when fourth behind Telecaster in the Dante Stakes 16 days ago and could also improve.
The winner has progressed superbly in just three career starts and, having been supplemented at a cost of £85,000, must have pleased his trainer Hughie Morrison since York.
By the Derby winner New Approach out of the dual Oaks runner-up Shirocco Star, Telecaster is certainly bred for the job and should stay a mile and a half well providing he settles a little better than last time when he was quite free but probably best positioned close to the pace. He has a big chance but I would just be a little concerned about the quick turnaround as well as this being his fourth run in just over two months having been unraced last year.
In the Investec Dash, MUTHMIR runs in his first handicap since September 2014 and can return to winning form.
The nine-year-old has raced in some of the best sprints available in the seasons since and showed he retains plenty of spark last year when beating Alpha Delphini at Haydock and then finishing placed four times at listed or Group level.
Muthmir was not so good on his final starts but the first was on soft ground which is not his surface and the second was over six furlongs on the Lingfield polytrack.
Jim Crowley's mount has often run well fresh, is well suited by a fast five furlongs which is certainly on offer here and runs off a handicap mark of 105 whereas he began last season rated 113.
Race specialist Duke Of Firenze, in fine form at the moment, and the improving Hathiq who has won his last two starts in Ireland are amongst the dangers but I'm hoping this will be a case of a Group horse racing against handicappers.
Preview posted at 1500BST at 31/05/2019