Saturday 16 December 2017

Jan Vermeer the punters' choice for Derby glory

Johnny Murtagh is expected to be in these silks aboard Jan Vermeer on Sunday.
Johnny Murtagh is expected to be in these silks aboard Jan Vermeer on Sunday.

Damien McElroy

Epsom fourth-place finisher Jan Vermeer has been installed across the board as the Dubai Duty Free Derby firm ante-post favourite to provide Aidan O'Brien with an eighth triumph in Sunday's renewal of the premier Irish Classic.

Having lost both front stick-on shoes around the switchback Surrey track, the Montjeu colt seems to have been forgiven his failure to justify heavy support in the English Derby by bookmakers and Paddy Power clients alike.

Customers of the Irish firm were quick to snap up an initial offer of 100/30 on the presumed mount of his Epsom partner Johnny Murtagh, with that standout price being cut to 11/4 as their rivals chalked up 2/1.

O'Brien has the greatest numerical representation after yesterday's declaration stage as five of the 11 survivors hail from Ballydoyle, with two more from former boss Jim Bolger completing the home defence.

The Maktoum family have no intention of bowing to the local talent as they forked out the €125,000 supplementary fee to include the Mark Johnston-trained Monterosso as well as Saeed Bin Suroor's Chabal.

Fresh from his Group Two success at Royal Ascot last Friday, Monterosso is next best to Jan Vermeer in the initial betting lists at 4/1.


But the Dubawi colt is a point shorter with the Derby's official betting partner Ladbrokes, who have installed Johnston's charge as 3/1 joint-second favourite with Cape Blanco, conqueror of Epsom hero Workforce at York in the Dante Stakes, but a disappointment when sent by O'Brien to challenge for the French Derby.

Anyone prepared to put a line through that sluggish display in Paris by a previously undefeated Cape Blanco might be tempted to avail of the 9/2 being quoted yesterday by both Paddy Power and William Hill, while fans of Epsom fifth finisher and stable companion Midas Touch could get 7/1.

In addition to Monterosso and Chabal, the English-based challenge includes Michael Bell's Coordinated Cut and David Simcock's outsider Dubawi Phantom.

Bolger may saddle both his wife Jackie's home-bred Carraiglawn, which has won his past two races, and Puncher Clynch, which short-headed Epsom runner-up At First Sight for the Ballysax Stakes, as there's prize-money for the first 10 home.

Meanwhile, Coventry Stakes fourth-place finisher Samuel Morse and Windsor Castle Stakes runner-up Petronius Maximus are among four O'Brien-trained acceptors for the Group Two Railway Stakes on Sunday.

Zoffany, which finished sixth in the Coventry, and Emperor Hadrian are the other Ballydoyle possibles.

There are two British-trained entries in the form of the Mick Channon-trained Chilworth Lad, who finished fifth in the Windsor Castle, and Formosina, a seven-length winner for Jeremy Noseda at Doncaster this month.

The 15 entries also include the Ger Lyons-trained Clondinnery, Bolger's Radharcnafarraige, Woodcote Stakes winner High Award, Moonlit Garden and the Kevin Prendergast-trained maiden winners Longhunter and Dunboyne Express.

Curragh specialist Benbaun is among the eight British-trained entries for the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Sapphire Sprint Stakes.

Irish Derby betting -- 11/4 Jan Vermeer, 4/1 Monterosso, 9/2 Cape Blanco, 7/1 Coordinated Cut, Midas Touch, 9/1 Chabal, Puncher Clynch, 12/1 At First Sight, 16/1 Carraiglawn, 33/1 Dubawi Phantom, 50/1 Bright Horizon.

Irish Independent

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