Churchill call correct but beware 'Thunder'
The somewhat alarming fall-off of owners in British racing was highlighted again last week.
Since 2008, when the number of owners with horses in training peaked at 9,551, the trend has been worrying, with a figure of just 7,947 last year. Notably the number of sole owners declined from 2,632 in 2005 to just 1,852 in 2015.
This is a world removed from the Godolphin operation, yet the boys in blue's record in the race that still matters most, the Investec Derby, is nothing short of a travesty, given the riches invested by Sheikh Mohammed.
Thus it seems baffling and bewildering that some believe Dubai Thunder should skip the race on June 3.
Dubai who? Dubai Thunder - and remember the name, because last Friday's maiden winner at Newbury has the potential to develop into one of the greats. Given the pedigree he has, his stallion prospects are difficult to exaggerate.
Dubai Thunder is, of course, by Dubawi - the only sire which gives Galileo a semblance of a challenge year-on-year. He is a half-brother to five winners, including Farhh, which won the 2013 Lockinge.
A promising stallion, Farhh's first two-year-olds have just appeared.
The reasons put forward for Dubai Thunder not running in the iconic race are twofold: he will be running just 15 days after making his debut and he is said to have been backward; and the ground was soft at Newbury, whereas it will hardly be that at Epsom.
However, trainer Saeed bin Suroor is worth listening to and his remarks since Newbury will encourage anyone who might tempted to take what looks a massive 14/1 about the horse winning the Derby.
"You couldn't run him last year. It was only in October that he started to show something. I didn't want to push him, it would have been the wrong time to do that," Bin Suroor said.
"He needs good ground or good to soft. He showed that class was there and he has a good engine. Of course I'd like to take him to Epsom.
"We've got these horses running in Group races, and possibly the Derby, that we have not had for three years. This year it has changed."
Dubai Thunder holds a Derby entry. Godolphin's other possibles are Best Solution, the Lingfield Derby Trial winner, Dante runner-up Benbatl and Hugo Palmer's Best Of Days.
Dubai Thunder appeals as much as the most exciting of them and there is every chance that he can win what seems a pretty standard renewal.
Churchill would be a likely winner if he partakes, yet the comments Aidan O'Brien (below) made to this paper last week imply that Churchill will go to the Curragh for the Guineas rather than Epsom.
To this eye, O'Brien and Coolmore are making a sensible decision. For one thing, Churchill is not bred to get a mile-and-a-half - he is out of a sprinter who was also out of a sprinter - and the prospect of him getting the distance, whatever about being good enough, looks pretty remote.
O'Brien has an enviable line to the standards of the British horses Cliffs Of Moher and his stablemates may face on Saturday week - the obvious exception being Dubai Thunder.
He probably ran Exemplar at York simply to get a handle on the opposition then, which included a fairly impressive winner in Permian.
Permian was a short head behind Cracksman at Epsom in a trial that may have more influence on the big race than it usually has, though it remains to be seen if Cracksman is good enough.
The Frankel-bred is far from certain to appreciate a mile-and-a-half, while his 9/2 for Epsom makes no appeal.
If Cliffs Of Moher has one to fret about, it could be Dubai Thunder.
Magnier versus Mohammed - just like old times.
RIDE OF THE WEEK
Denis O'Regan is riding increasingly for Gordon Elliott and steered Station Closed to victory at Downpatrick on Friday night. Patiently ridden, the 16/1 chance had nearly the entire field in front of her with a mile to go. She finished with a rattle.
GAMBLE OF THE WEEK
The Dick Brabazon-trained Path Of Silver held on by a nose under Oisin Orr at Killarney on Tuesday, having been backed from 14/1 into 6/1.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I'm not going to dispute the fact that running a fresh horse was part of our strategy. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two excellent horses. If we were ever going to beat them let's take them on after six weeks' rest, and it worked."
- Chad Brown after Cloud Computing snared the Preakness.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
"Delighted with Veneer Of Charm getting off the mark at Navan with thanks to @MDOCallaghan - I named him after an ex-girlfriend."
- Owner Noel Hayes (@bigcitybanker) after his gambled-on winner on Saturday.