Ballydoyle's Marengo can chase home Bolger superstar
ACCORDING to the Irish Independent TV listings for June 6, 1962, programm-ing on Telefís Éireann began at 2.0 with four races to be shown from Epsom Downs, including the Derby.
The racing was followed by a children's show called 'Let's Draw' and afterwards viewers were treated to the popular western series 'The Cisco Kid.'
Simpler times, perhaps, but if you ask me, that's a decent TV line-up for a Wednesday afternoon (the Derby wasn't moved to Saturday until 1995) and it makes me wonder whether I really need 200 channels of rubbish on my own TV.
In the racing pages of the same paper, tipster Sean Quigley steered readers in the direction of 22/1 Derby outsider Larkspur, the second string of Vincent O'Brien, writing: "His sire is the Derby winner Precipitation, that great begetter of stamina. Perhaps Larkspur can prove himself to be above adversity."
Despite a setback in training the previous week, Larkspur did, indeed, prove himself to be above adversity, and those who were lucky enough to have a TV set in 1962 would have witnessed the first horse from Ballydoyle to win Epsom's most famous race.
Vincent O'Brien would go on to win the Derby five more times and his successor at Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien, has so far provided the stable with three victories in more recent years.
This year, O'Brien is responsible for five of the 12-strong line-up, but throwing a load of darts at the board doesn't always hit the bulls-eye.
In 2009, for example, John Oxx's Sea The Stars beat six O'Brien horses, including the 9/4 favourite Fame And Glory. Since High Chaparral's victory in 2002, O'Brien has had 41 runners in the Derby, and the only one of those to score was last year's winner Camelot.
Today, Jim Bolger's unbeaten Dawn Approach is the one most feared by Ballydoyle, and I wouldn't put readers off backing him, even though he's the shortest in the betting at 5/4.
On numerous occasions, I've mentioned that I like to keep things simple on the Flat and how backing the top-class horses (those rated above 120) has produced a decent profit over the past few years.
Dawn Approach falls into this category and, at 125, he's a good deal clear of O'Brien's Battle Of Marengo, which gets an official rating of 117.
You won't get a 22/1 winner like Larkspur by backing the top-rated horses, but making the Derby pay for my Bank Holiday weekend is my goal and I'm not going to make matters unnecessarily complicated.
Dawn Approach's odds suggest he has a 44pc chance of winning and the decision to back him really comes down to whether or not, like me, you think that likelihood is higher.
Readers won't need reminding how he stormed home last time in the 2000 Guineas (tipped here at 11/8) and, while questions regarding stamina have been raised on his dam's side, those concerns are tempered somewhat by the fact that he's sired by the 2008 Derby winner New Approach.
His victory in the Guineas was pretty much flawless and you could see a nice level of maturity in his style compared to his two-year-old campaign. If he gets the trip and handles the going (he won on yielding twice last term), he'll take some beating this afternoon.
Of the O'Brien horses, Battle Of Marengo could be worth keeping onside as an insurance bet in Betfair's 'place only' market at 11/10.
Forgive the awful pun, but Fair Value should prove to be just that at 14/1 in the Investec Specialist Bank 'Dash' at Epsom (3.15) off a mark of 90. She has good course form and put in a nice race when third to Duke Of Firenze last time at Goodwood off the same rating.
2.40 Epsom: St Nicholas Abbey
3.15 Epsom: Fair Value (e/w)
4.0 Epsom: Dawn Approach (Battle Of Marengo to place)
7.10 Newcastle: Qawaafy
7.25 Lingfield: Arbeel