Saturday 3 December 2016

Epsom Derby: Horn has golden chance

Gosden's colt has class and temperament to deny Irish hopes

Published 06/06/2015 | 02:30

Golden Horn and Frankie Dettori can follow up their Dante Stakes romp by landing the Epsom Derby. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Golden Horn and Frankie Dettori can follow up their Dante Stakes romp by landing the Epsom Derby. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Investec Derby market has been doing its best to convince us that Giovanni Canaletto is the best hope of an Irish victory on the hallowed Epsom Downs.

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If the money is right, then I'd fear that our raiders have little chance at all. Giovanni Canaletto's win in a Leopardstown maiden last October is his only triumph in three starts, and he was beaten on his Curragh return by a filly that had won handicaps off marks of 72 and 83.

They didn't go quick early at the Curragh and he was flat-footed when the pace increased. Granted, he kept on and today's two-furlong longer trip will suit, but if you are hoping that the Derby trip will compensate for a lack of tactical speed then you are in trouble.

Aidan O'Brien put a noseband on Giovanni Canaletto to help his ungainly head carriage, so this undulating track may not suit.

If today's Derby is as bad as the one that his brother Ruler Of The World won, then Giovanni Canaletto, which sports cheek-pieces now, has a chance. Unspectacular as it is, though, it doesn't look as dire as the 2013 heat.

That Ryan Moore opted for Giovanni Canaletto doesn't say much for the other two horses charged with securing O'Brien a fourth win in a row in the elite Classic. On what we have seen to date, I felt that he might ride Hans Holbein.

The all-the-way Chester Vase winner will find life tougher, but he should give Seamie Heffernan a great spin and possibly make the frame at fancy odds, with the slight ease underfoot in his favour.

Were Success Days to win for the unheralded duo of Ken Condon and Shane Foley, bedlam would surely ensue, but he may need deep ground to excel at this level.

The best horse in the race is Golden Horn. The saying goes that if you know they stay the Derby trip coming into the race, then they will probably be too slow, and John Gosden's smooth Dante winner's stamina is still unproven.

He oozed class when stretching his unbeaten record to three in a cracking race at York, smoothly beating stablemate Jack Hobbs.

Jack Hobbs had won a Sandown handicap off 85 previously, but he had done so emphatically by an eased-down 12 lengths, in contrast to Curvy's all-out Navan win.

Golden Horn is the outstanding candidate here and is being ridden by the rejuvenated Frankie Dettori. Crucially, his pedigree hints that stamina shouldn't be an issue.

Famously, his sire Cape Cross produced Epsom giants Sea The Stars and Ouija Board, while his dam Fleche D'Or is a Dubai Destination sister to Mystic Knight, which ran a blinder to be a one-paced sixth in the 1996 Derby, having pressed the early pace.

Golden Horn has a relaxed and willing temperament, a beautifully balanced way of going and is versatile ground-wise. Inevitably, class will out in the Derby, so odds of 2/1 about him stamping his authority all over this look very fair.

 

Watching brief

Jim Bolger confirmed for us in recent days that Lucida (Coronation Stakes) and Round Two (Coventry) - "they are very well" - are on target for Royal Ascot.

Bolger also revealed his Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Pleascach could run before the Irish Derby. Ascot's Ribblesdale or, more likely, next Sunday's French Oaks are her options.

"The Ribblesdale would leave us with less days to play with ahead of the Irish Derby, and there is the not inconsiderable sum of about €650,000 to the winner at Chantilly," Bolger said of a filly that looks sure to be campaigned with typically ambitious abandon.

"It would probably be worth giving up a Sunday for that."

The Irish 1,000 Guineas-Prix de Diane double has never been done, but that won't dissuade Bolger, whose Finsceal Beo's head defeat in the 2007 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches denied her a hat-trick in the English, French and Irish 1,000 Guineas.

 

Lay of the day

The John Ferguson-trained Father Edward has been a beaten favourite on five of his last seven starts.

He is on duty under Sam Twiston-Davies in division one of the maiden hurdle at Worcester, where he looks like going off odds-on. Having not won in seven outings since hacking up on his bumper debut at Fontwell two years ago, he's a horse that always finds a way to get beaten.

 

A little each way

Tracey Collins' Chris Hayes-ridden Chiclet is value for a place at up to 12/1 for today's Investec Dash Handicap at Epsom.

With two wins from three runners in England this term, Collins' cross-channel raiders warrant special attention. Chiclet took over a year and 12 starts to break her duck but she is on a four-timer now. The Dandy Man four-year-old is all pace, so five furlongs here will be ideal, though her draw is lower than ideal.

 

Dark horse

Romsdal might be underrated by the bookmakers for the Coronation Cup at around 20/1.

You never know what will emerge from a Group One, but this looks the worst edition of the 12-furlong contest since Ask prevailed in 2009.

Ask was dropping back from staying contests then, as is Romsdal, which didn't look happy on fast ground when fourth in the Yorkshire Cup.

In general, he has been disappointing, but he ran a fine race when third to Australia here in last year's Derby. If the French duo of Dolniya and Flintshire fluff their lines, John Gosden's colt could have a big say for William Buick.

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