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Track talk: Build-up to Derby throwing up more and more surprises


Giovanni Canaleto

Giovanni Canaleto

Giovanni Canaleto

more cats have been thrown amongst the pigeons in the lead up to this year's Investec Derby - so much so it's hard to believe there is a pigeon left between here and the Epsom Downs.

The Tuesday before any big weekend race is often a significant day for trainers and their respective big race horses as usually they are given their last pieces of work prior to the race. To put it in golfing terms, yesterday was certainly 'moving day'.

While Dermot Weld's Zawraq slipped down the pecking order, Giovanni Canaletto was slipping down the betting list with a massive plunge that saw him end the day as short as 7/1 in places having been 20/1 yesterday morning and an unlucky runner last week.

Of course, much of the uncharacteristic build-up to this year's Epsom Derby has been based on the fact that Ballydoyle seem to lack an obvious Derby contender, rather than having two or three that you could make real live cases for winning it.

On Sunday, quotes emerging from Aidan O'Brien at Chantilly gave a strong indication that Gleneagles was going to spearhead the Ballydoyle challenge and the rumours of Found being supplemented, to attempt to become the first filly in 99 years to win the race, were well and truly shelved.

But on Monday morning the news came through that they would both go straight to Royal Ascot and the unusually small Ballydoyle team of trial winners Kilimanjaro and Hans Holbein, along with trial runner-up Giovanni Canaletto, would be his lot.

Having finished second in the Gallinule and still appearing too 'babyish' for Epsom, you'd have to guess that Giovanni Canaletto caught a bird at the top of the Ballydoyle gallops yesterday morning. He was going so quick in his final piece of work, such was the nature of the plunge in odds on him, and now he looks to be 'the one' most likely to give Ballydoyle a fourth straight win in the race and Coolmore a fifth in a row.

Dermot Weld's Zawraq obviously went the other way in the betting a small bit but I suppose it is important to stress only a small bit.

He was still no bigger than 8/1 on Betfair yesterday afternoon which isn't the dramatic drift that one would expect with that firm if the setback was alarmingly detrimental to his chances on Saturday.

Zawraq remains on course to be in at tomorrow's declaration stage but the vibes are not what you'd want if you hold an ante-post docket with his name on it.

It has been a Derby with many twists and turns and thats long before they've seen a racecourse. God only knows what will happen between now and Saturday.