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Epsom Classics 2017

Epsom Classics 2017

A quick summer outing for the blog with Classics weekend at Epsom looming. The Oaks (for fillies) kicks comes first on Friday but the 238th running of the Epsom Derby (for both sexes – though it’s usually only colts) is the centrepiece on Saturday.

Northern stables can hardly claim to much success in the big race with Dante being the last horse to bring back the Blue Riband to Yorkshire in 1945.

He was trained in Middleham – just like Mark Johnston’s Permian this year – and I really think this one has very strong claims to end the Northern drought in this race.

He certainly wouldn’t be a stats pick on where he is trained – neither on the fact that he has graduated from a handicap win earlier in his career. What is in his favour is that he is highly progressive and comes here after winning one of the most notable trials – the Dante Stakes in decisive fashion at York last time. That win saw him come through a battle and ultimately win going away at the finish. He looked like a horse who would be even better stepping up to Saturday’s mile and a half trip

In both that and previous races he has looked a horse with good tactical pace – something that often is vital around the Epsom track. With a potentially large looking field, being able to secure a handy spot just behind the pace could be even more invaluable this year.

He has already proved himself around the tricky Epsom track with a close second to Cracksman (reopposing again) here earlier in the season. The form of that race has looked extremely solid – in years past it was a notable trial and for once, it would seem to be doing so again this year.

permcrack

Permian has probably improved since then but on the bare form it may look like he may struggle to reverse placings with the winner. Cracksman’s big problem for me comes with his breeding. He’s by Frankel out a mare by Champion sprinter Pivotal. That really doesn’t scream a 12 furlong horse and I have a feeling that he may have been winning over his optimum trip on 10 furlongs that day

Another horse in the race, Best Solution, would also seem an unlikely winner on breeding which suggests him to be more of a miler. He confounded that by winning the Lingfield Derby trial impressively. What is notable here though is that he is owned by Godolphin – as are Dubai Thunder and Benbati. William Buick would most likely have the choice of ride of any of these yet has picked Permian (owned by another member of Dubai’s ruling family) who was especially supplemented to the race on Monday at a cost of £85,000.

As usual there is a big representation from Ireland from the Aidan O’Brien stable. While they have strength in number, the lack of choice of a mount yet from Ryan Moore tends to indicate there is no stand out performer amongst them. The market favours Cliffs of Moher most out of the raiding party. This one won the Dee Stakes last time (beating Bay of Poets – 3rd beind Cracksman and Permian at Epsom). He did look to be tapped for toe that day when Max Zorin quickened the tempo up front – that does worry me when it comes to the tactical pace aspect in this race

Eminent, another son of Frankel, is also high up in the betting. He’s the one bringing Group One 2,000 Guineas form into this but was a bit of a disappointing 6th that day. Again stamina here wouldn’t be assured on his pedigree.

For me this is a weak looking Derby. Whilst it is a Group 1 race, I’m not so sure there is a genuine Group 1 mile and a half furlong performer in the race this year. Cracksman may well prove up to that level but I suspect at 2 furlongs less. If such a type were to emerge, then Permian might well find one too good. But in the belief that he definitely won’t find three that good I make him a solid each way proposition

There are two interesting ones at much higher odds that I’ll be backing my main selection up with.

Sylvester Kirk’s Salouen ran creditably at Group level last season. He’s only run once this year when just touched off by the reopposing Khalidi – the latter had race fitness on his side. It’s fairly likely that lack of a run beat him that day yet he is available now at more than twice the odds of his rival.

salouen

He wouldn’t like the soft ground that Epsom had earlier in the week but that is drying all of time and 66/1 seems far too big. It’s just the fact that his trainer is less known that is making the odds here

John Gosden’s main hope may be Cracksman but it’s also interesting that Crowned Eagle is still a likely runner here despite his best piece of form being a Windsor handicap win. That day he did look like a Group performer in waiting – and that’s no surprise given he is a sibling of 3 Group race winners at this trip. The main worry again was that he really had to be scrubbed along early in that race to get a good position early – the tactical pace angle may be a problem. He is the one horse in the field who I can most envisage being a Group 1 performer over this distance in time – it may just be too early for him.

The 48 hour declarations for this race will be released tomorrow morning. From then on, Rule 4 deductions could be imposed to prices. Betting now would normally be Ante Post rules and non runners would be deemed losers. There are plenty of firms who do offer Non Runner No Bet and so that could be wise to use in some cases

(odds available here: https://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/ante-post-racing/flat/the-derby/winner )

Recommendations

2.5 pts ew Permian 11/1 (Boylesports paying ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts ew Salouen 66/1 (32 red/888/Unibet – all paying NRNB ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts win Crowned Eagle – taking 33/1 NRNB here where available – 40/1 is available with Hills but not 100% convinced he will run yet and would prefer comfort of stakes being returned.


Whilst, I am not sure there is a proven Group 1 performer in the Derby, there most definitely is in Friday’s Oaks in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas runner-up Rhododendron. That form was emphatically boosted by the winner, Winter, last weekend. While her stamina has yet to be proved, she is by Galileo and that has to be a positive. Her ability to act on a track like this is also something we don’t know and would be the main thing that would dissuade me from taking odds of around Evens for her to win. It’s not really that original to pick 2nd fav Enable as her main danger. Stamina looks assured and her impressive win at the tight Chester circuit gives every confidence that this track should hold no fears. The O’Brien stable will no exactly how they stand on that form having had the second Alluringly (reopposes again). The strength of money on the day for the favourite should tell us all we need to know here – the signs so far have all been positive though. 48 hour declarations have already been done for this race earlier today and 10 runners will go to post

No recommendations at current odds though I think the favourite will be hard to beat

 

Good luck to all with whatever you back this weekend

 

Thanks for reading

 

Paul

 

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York – Dante meeting – Day 2

Day 2 of York’s Dante meeting has the Dante itself (a major Epsom Derby trial) as it’s showpiece at 3.10 and it’s there I look for one of my two picks on tomorrow’s card
8 runners should be going to post but I think we can discount Lord Ben Stack and Medrano who have a little to find on form. I’m hopeful that one of these two will at least make sure of a decent pace in the race though.
Aidan O’Brien’s pair of John F Kennedy and Ol Man River both look to bounce back from disappointing debut efforts. Ryan Moore has chosen the former who was Derby favourite over the Winter but he’s plenty short enough at no more than 7/2 given his last lack lustre effort.
John Gosden runs two very promising types in Jack Hobbs and Golden Horn. The former is current Derby favourite virtue of an impressive win at Sandown. That was a handicap though and he gain appears short here on what he has achieved. Golden Horn is maybe slightly better value at around 5/1 but he doesn’t seem to have Epsom as his aim – and the fact that he isn’t the choice of Dettori to ride is a slight negative.
So I am looking mainly at the other two– Elm Park and Nafaqa – who were separated by a length at Newmarket last year (as pictured below).

elmnafaqa
Elm Park is officially top rated in the race at 117 ( the other main 5 rated between 109 and 113) and missed the 2,000 Guineas because of the quick ground to wait for this. This is therefore his seasonal debut and there’s every chance he could need it a little.
That could level things out a little with Nafaqa who was 2nd in the Craven Stakes when Kool Kompany had first run on them all. He missed Chester last week because of the soft ground and this 10 furlong trip should be much more his liking than Newmarket’s mile.
He went into many notebooks after his debut at Royal Ascot last year when totally missing the break and has enough form in the book to make me think he has been forgotten a bit here with a quote of 16/1 from some.
It’s most beneficial to play here with firms who offer ¼ odds first 3 (as long as nothing drops out of the race and we have 8 runners)

*WEDNESDAY LUNCHTIME UPDATE*

Rather frustratingly Medrano has been declared a non runner becuase of the ground – which by all accounts was just about perfect yesterday. This kills the each way angle a bit on this race as it’s no longer a payout on the first three and will be just the first two. The only place where first three will be available (albeit 1/5th odds will be on the Betfair Exchange and their ‘each way’ market)
Recommendation
0.75 pts ew Nafaqa 16/1 (Boyles, Stan James)
http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-05-14-york/15:15/winner

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The Hambleton Hcap at 345 is the other play and I’m with last year’s second Fort Bastion here.
This one looked Group class in his early days with Richard Hannon but had some issues until Ruth Carr got him back on track last year. He changed stables during the season and is now with the mercurial David O’Meara – and there’s every chance he can get a bit more out of this one still.
Last year he came here after winning the Thirsk Hunt Cup. This year he made his seasonal debut in that race – missed the break – and then continually found his path blocked.
Although only 11th, he finished with plenty left in the tank and didn’t have a hard race – it will have tuned him up nicely for this though and the stable is in form already here (Algar Lad won the sprint handicap on Wednesday)

fortbastion

Recommendation
1pt ew Fort Bastion 10/1 (general)
http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/2015-05-14-york/15:45/winner

Thanks for reading once more and good luck

Paul

(recommended prices correct at 0710 BST 13/05)

RESULTS

A non-runner did mean the Dante became 1st 2 only but it didn’t ultimately effect the Nafaqa bet as he finished 4th – someway behind a high class looking top 3.

Fort Bastion travelled like a winner to me but didn’t find as much as looked likely and just out of the frame. He then ran the following week at Ayr off the same mark and sluiced in! Ho hum!

The Flat season is not proving as profitable as the jumps so far – hoping for a change of fortune in coming weeks.

RUNNING BALANCE 44.53 pts (from initial bank of 50pts)

 

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