IT’S Derby Day! Our racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) takes a look at the runners for us.
15:10 Epsom | Channel 4
The first mile and a half Group 1 of the season for older horses is always an interesting race and this looks a decent renewal. The first five in the market are all Group 1 winners and it’s sure to throw up clues for the middle distance races for the rest of the season.
Found was one of the top fillies around last season and improved with every start and step up in trip and looks like she needs a mile and a half now. She will handle conditions and is race fit and in my eyes she is the one to beat here.
However this race seems something of an afterthought as she was being aimed at Ascot and her win record makes me think she is worth swerving in this despite her trainers excellent record in this race.
Simple Verse also made giant strides last season and ended up a dual Group 1 winner. She made a pleasing return in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and is sure to win more races. However this is the best race she has run in by some way and to me she will need to improve considerably to land this. She might well find the extra required however I’m not backing her here.
Postponed from the Roger Varian yard is now arguably the top mile and a half horse in training and has won his last four starts in a row. He won last season’s King George and was an impressive winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic on his last start.
He was seen as a fast ground horse however he handles cut in the ground and should be fine here. My one concern is that he may struggle on this less conventional track but he’s had a racecourse gallop and I think despite the short odds he is the most likely winner here by some way.
16:30 Epsom | Channel 4
Here’s my view on all the Derby runners.
Across The Stars
There was a time that Stoute and Fallon were the most feared duo in racing and they have a perfect record when teaming up in the Derby. There is quiet confidence in the stable and he has been supported during the week however his form is way off the best of these and I expect him to struggle.
A winner of two of his four starts, he won a Goodwood Listed race on his final start. That was over 1 mile 3 furlongs and he looks like he will stay this trip. He’s come in under the radar and I think he will finish closer to first than last however he looks below Derby winning class
The Karl Burke stable is flying however unless he gets a furlong head start he is of no interest as a betting proposition
Cloth of Stars
Andre Fabre sends across this well bred son of Sea the Stars and he has to be taken seriously. He turned round juvenile form with Robin of Navan last time out and he looks like he will appreciate the better ground as he has spent most of his career on heavy ground. He’s something of an unknown however if Andre Fabre sends him here then you have to take notice.
In what started a juvenile season full of promise (one time ante-post derby favourite) it ended poorly but he showed he’d improved from two to three by coming second in the Dante. He has put up the most impressive performance of all Aidan O’Briens entries and if he improves for his reappearance he has claims to go close. However he is a little more exposed than his rivals and I expect him to fall short here.
The Ballysax is one of the key Derby trials in Ireland and Harzand won that well. Trained by Dermot Weld he is a surprisingly big price given the races history for producing big race winners and is of interest at a double figure price. He will handle the ground and I think he will stay and in an open renewal cannot be ruled out.
He won the Lingfield Derby trial and looks like he needs the extra distance here. He was seen as a Guineas horse early in his career however he looks like a stayer now however I would be disappointed if he was up to winning this.
Another Aidan O’Brien horse and despite having good form to his name he is one of his lesser lights. Again he looks like he will appreciate the extra distance and is another that could run above his odds but he’s not for me.
A dual Group 1 runner up he came second in the Guineas and brings arguably the best form in to the race. On pedigree I don’t think he will stay and if I owned him I would have sent him to Chantilly for the French Derby. He is a very classy colt and if he settles and stays he will go close, but it’s a big if.
A winner of three of his four starts, his one defeat was when he was below par in the Ballysax. He won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and has a serious chance here. His trainer Jim Bolger knows what it takes to win this and has a chance here and should run well.
He came fourth in the Racing Post Trophy last season and on his return this year he was a marginal second to today’s favourite US Army Ranger in the Chester Vase where he was conceding weight too. If you take that form literally he is a huge threat to all here and is bound to be popular amongst each way punters. He’d be a disappointing winner to me but could go close
His win in a Haydock handicap was enough to convince Ed Dunlop to supplement him for this and he is a fascinating runner. His form is well short of these however he is clearly a fast improving colt who is guaranteed to stay. The stable is in good form but he just doesn’t strike me as a Derby winner however he should run well as Ed Dunlop wouldn’t have him in here if he wasn’t showing something at home.
A full brother to last years Oaks winner Qualify their careers are very similar so far. Second to Moonlight Magic in the Derrinstown he will appreciate the extra distance here and I think he will run above his odds. He would be a very disappointing winner of the race however he needs 12 furlongs to be seen at his best and I expect him to put up a career best effort here.
When your dad is a Derby winner and your mum won the Oaks your always going to be pencilled in as a Classic contender and Ulysses falls in to that category. His career has started slowly and is yet to race outside of maiden company however he was an impressive winner last time out but that was a poor race and he is a crazy price here. His trainer Sir Michael Stoute is bullish about his chances but to step up from maiden win to Derby winner would take a mighty effort and I’m against him here.
US Army Ranger
The apparent first string of the Ballydoyle bow he has had two career starts winning both. Another with a Classic winning pedigree he wasn’t seen until April this year and is still very much unexposed. He was an unconvincing winner of the Chester Vase however he won and will be a lot more street-wise now. Aidan O’Brien thinks he is top class and may well be in time, but I’m not convinced this race will bring out the best in him.
Wings of Desire
He only made his debut in April and followed that up by winning a Wolverhampton maiden. He then made the step up to Group level and won the Dante at York, where despite the narrow winning margin he was value for a bit more. John Gosden was very complimentary about him there and he is another unexposed sort. However his form has a bit more substance than his rivals and he looks the horse to beat here.
An open looking Derby where anyone of four colts could go off favourite whoever wins will be sent off at a backable price. There is a certain amount of guesswork required to find the winner here as there are so many unexposed types but I’ve made my decision finally! I think Harzand represents real value and is my selection however Wings of Desire will be hard to beat. At the prices Shogun interests me to low stakes but only at bookmakers who are offering 5 places each way!
Graeme’s Derby 1-2-3
2. Wings of Desire