Monday 24 October 2016

Monday Outlook: Opportunity knocks for Derby hopefuls

O'Brien to leave in Guineas hero Gleneagles ahead of four-in-a-row bid

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

Vincent Cheminaud celebrates New Bay’s French Derby victory from Highland Reel
Vincent Cheminaud celebrates New Bay’s French Derby victory from Highland Reel
'O’Brien isn’t in the habit of pitching fillies in against colts at this level and he gave the impression yesterday that it isn’t on the agenda'

Today's deadline for supplementary entries for the Derby should shed a little light on the final shape of the premier Classic at Epsom.

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John Gosden's Dante Stakes-winning favourite Golden Horn is among those set to be added to Saturday's 12-furlong Group One at a cost of £75,000. There might be doubts about his stamina, but the decision to put him in is a bit of a no-brainer in the year that's in it.

The others likely to be put in may hail from these shores, with Ken Condon acquiescing to owner Robert Ng's inclination to give Success Days a shot. After easy wins in testing conditions in the two recognised Leopardstown trials, the Jeremy colt would be entitled to his place. Condon had initially indicated he would probably wait for the Curragh equivalent, partly in the hope of easier ground.

While that would be the percentage call, if quick conditions were to prevail at headquarters and if the Epsom winner were to turn up there, Condon might have found himself ruing not having a stab at Epsom. Fortune may favour the brave, but with the Epsom going likely to be anything slower than good, Success Days will be hard to fancy. Still, his presence for Condon and Shane Foley would be an intriguing angle at the very least.

Aidan O'Brien has four in the race and he suggested yesterday that Gleneagles will be left in today, despite his own preference to head straight to Ascot with him for the St James's Palace Stakes. Hawk Wing was a similar sort whose brave Derby exertions in defeat to High Chaparral arguably took a fair toll.

O'Brien - who has won the last three Derbies - holds Gleneagles in the highest regard as a miler, so it remains to be seen if his Coolmore superiors pull rank. Kilimanjaro and Hans Holbein are expected to run but there doesn't appear to be any discernible confidence in them.

While Giovanni Canaletto doesn't look remotely mature enough to figure on the basis of his recent defeat, that isn't to say he won't run for the experience. Much has been made of the possibility of Found being supplemented.

Personally, I don't see why she should be. O'Brien isn't in the habit of pitching fillies in against colts at this level and he gave the impression yesterday that it isn't on the agenda. Found was impressive in beating Ervedya and Jack Naylor in France in the autumn, but her only other win in five starts came on her debut in a Curragh maiden.

She couldn't beat Iveagh Gardens on her return and she was held by Pleascach in the Irish 1,000 Guineas when she got to the winner late on but couldn't get past her. While Found may well be better over further, she has done nothing to suggest she can win the Derby.

The notion of putting her in the race had its origins in various corners of the media and it gained legs thereafter. Prior to yesterday, when it had been put to O'Brien or someone speaking on Coolmore's behalf, it was acknowledged as an option and no more.

Clearly, O'Brien has a strong Oaks hand that also includes Diamondsandrubies and Together Forever, but that's nothing new for him and the Derby has never been considered as an alternative before.

If Coolmore were to put a filly in the Derby, it should surely be Legatissimo. The 1,000 Guineas heroine is the pick of the conglomerate's distaff team, though David Wachman is patently anxious to run her in the Oaks, knowing full well that it would be her best chance of a Classic double.

Legatissimo is out of a Montjeu full-sister to Fame And Glory, which was second to Sea The Stars in the 2009 Derby and won the Irish version. Her sire Danehill Dancer - retired last year - already has an Oaks winner in the shape of Dancing Rain, so it would be some feather in his cap to belatedly sire a Derby victor. We'll soon find out if there is to be a Coolmore curveball.

Jack Naylor - a real eye-catcher when flashing home to be fourth behind Pleascach - is Oaks-bound. She has the potential to provide Jessica Harrington and Fran Berry with a breakthrough Classic, while Zawraq could give Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen a similarly famous Derby success.

The son of Shamardal is another with stamina concerns and his two-month lay-off isn't ideal. No horse has won the Derby without having run in the month of May since Shaamit and Lammtarra plundered back-to-back renewals on their respective seasonal reappearances back in 1995 and 1996.

Zawraq doesn't have to overcome anything like that, and you can be pretty sure Weld will have him ready to run for his life. The Derby is an unconquered outpost that the Rosewell House wizard, whose horses are carrying all before them this term, would cherish above all others. Weld's contemporary Irish heavyweights O'Brien, Jim Bolger and John Oxx have all claimed it, so he won't rest until his name is also on the roll of honour.

Cheminaud 'jumps' to derby victory

Vincent Cheminaud took dual-purpose riding to a new level when winning the Prix Du Jockey Club on New Bay yesterday. The talented 21-year-old is champion jump jockey in France - he won an Auteuil Grade One on Zarkandar in November - yet he looked a serious Flat jockey when bringing New Bay (16/5 fav) with a sweeping run from the rear in the 175th edition of the Chantilly Classic.

It was a fourth win in the race for Andre Fabre, whose Khalid Abdullah-owned Dubawi colt had been second to Make Believe in the French 2,000 Guineas and now has races like the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on his agenda.

Cheminaud indicated he has no plans to concentrate solely on the Flat, and he has two bookings over sticks at Auteuil today. "Andre called and asked if we would mind having a jumps jockey," Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthope explained. "He said he was the best. A champion is a champion - he is a champion jockey so why wouldn't he be able to ride on the Flat?" Joseph O'Brien has also dabbled in riding over hurdles recently and he finished second on Highland Reel, which had been sixth at Longchamp.

He came through from the middle to challenge alongside New Bay, but couldn't match the winner's acceleration. While Aidan O'Brien's wait for a first French Derby win goes on, then, this was as close as he has gone, and he suggested Highland Reel's options would now include the Irish Derby and the Eclipse at Sandown.

There was no joy either for Michael O'Callaghan's Letters Of Note in the German 1,000 Guineas in Dusseldorf, Oisin Murphy's mount fading tamely late on.

Mullins aims Fly at French feature

Hurricane Fly will strive to give Willie Mullins a fifth French Champion Hurdle win on Sunday.

The champion trainer confirmed yesterday that the indomitable 11-year-old, which finished second to Jezki on its first outing over three miles at Punchestown, is an intended runner in the extended three-mile Auteuil Grade One.

"He is in good form and at the moment he is heading for Auteuil next Sunday," Mullins said of his two-time Champion Hurdler.

Hurricane Fly has twice run at Auteuil, winning a Grade Three there under Ruby Walsh as a novice seven years ago before getting beaten by Grivette in a Grade One under Davy Condon a month later.

Seven days, seven wins for Elliott

Kildare handler Paul Fahey won the bumper at Tramore on Saturday with Coffee Cantata and he took the opener at Kilbeggan yesterday with the 2/1 favourite Do Try Dolly.

"That's the nearest I'll ever get to a double!" Fahey quipped after Mikey Fogarty guided Do Try Dolly to a smooth 20-length victory in the mares' maiden hurdle. Mick Winters' Stay With It (11/4) also ran out a facile winner under David Mullins, while Gordon Elliott bagged a double courtesy of Mustadrik and Akorakor to take his tally for the week to seven.

The former was ridden to victory by up-and-coming claimer Luke Dempsey, who continues to impress, while Bryan Cooper was aboard the latter owned by Michael O'Leary.

Tweet of the weekend

Mick Fitzgerald (@mickfitz)

On my merry way to Fakenham for a 6 race card, meanwhile @AP_McCoy going out for cooked breakfast!

McCoy replied to his old colleague by stating that he felt "less guilty" because he was going to play golf at Beardwood Lakes. He seems to be dealing okay with his retirement!

Numbers Game

13 Horses that have failed to complete the American Triple Crown - one didn't make the third leg due to injury - since Affirmed became the last of 11 to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in 1978. Ascot-bound California Chrome fell short in 2014. American Pharoah emulated him in style at Pimlico in Baltimore two weeks ago, and on Sunday he will vie to join the immortals when he steps up to a mile-and-a-half in New York.

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