Saturday 17 March 2018

Jan Vermeer tops Epsom list as Abbey hopes hang in balance

Jan Vermeer. Photo: Getty Images
Jan Vermeer. Photo: Getty Images

Chris McGrath

THE Epsom Derby betting is threatening to just get plain silly.

It is one thing for punters to get cold feet about St Nicholas Abbey, but the prices suddenly being quoted about his stablemate Jan Vermeer imply that a nervous tremor in the Investec Derby betting has quickly developed into an outright fit of hysteria.

Jan Vermeer is now as short as 13/8 favourite, while the odds for St Nicholas Abbey suggest his backers should be relieved even to get a run for their money on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien, the pair's trainer, expects to put backers out of their misery either today or tomorrow, when the four colts who have dominated the ante-post market complete their preparations.

Hot favourite since his impressive win in last season's Racing Post Trophy, St Nicholas Abbey has become so leprous in the betting since disappointing in his work last Friday that his very participation would now seem to hang in the balance. He was being offered at 11/1 on Betfair last night.

Even when he retained that air of invincibility, St Nicholas Abbey was never any shorter in the betting than Jan Vermeer is now.

Renewed cash for Jan Vermeer yesterday suggested unanimity among punters that Murtagh will ride him at Epsom, rather than St Nicholas Abbey or Midas Touch.

O'Brien is understandably concerned with St Nicholas Abbey, which had always taken his breath away on the gallops. Should he decide over the next day or so that something is amiss, and scratch the colt altogether, he will almost certainly restore Cape Blanco -- looking set to run at Chantilly on Sunday instead -- to his Epsom team.

His next big question is whether he can find a place for his former stable jockey Kieren Fallon. O'Brien's personal inclination may well be to reward Colm O'Donoghue and Seamus Heffenan for their day-to-day contribution at Ballydoyle, but there is also speculation that Fallon might be called up.

Including a couple of potential pacemakers, O'Brien accounted for six of the 15 colts still in the equation after the five-day stage. Godolphin paid a £75,000 supplementary fee not only for Rewilding, as expected, but also Buzzword, which proved ready for a turn at middle distances with a staying-on fourth in the French 2,000 Guineas. (© Independent News Service)

Epsom Derby (latest betting): 7/4 Jan Vermeer, 4/1 St Nicholas Abbey, 7/1 Bullet Train, Midas Touch, 15/2 Workforce, 9/1 Cape Blanco, 12/1 Rewilding, 14/1 Azmeel, 25/1 Coordinated Cut, 33/1 Al Zir, Ted Spread, 50/1 Buzzword, 66/1.

Irish Independent

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