True Story can pull off fairytale Epsom shock for Fallon
As I watched the build-up to the Carl Froch versus George Groves fight last week, I quietly hoped to myself that the match-up would go some way to living up to the hype the TV stations were generating.
Thankfully, we got as far as the eighth round before Froch knocked out Groves, so I guess you could say the spectators got some bang for their buck, so to speak.
But so often in that sport you can be left feeling empty-changed when a fighter fails to live up to his billing.
Just like boxing, racing relies heavily on a good story to promote the sport, and each generation needs a Frankel or a Nijinsky, a Kauto Star or an Arkle.
Trying to find the next big star is what racing is all about for owners, trainers, jockeys and punters alike, and there's no bigger stage for a horse to make his mark than the Derby, which goes to post today at 4.0.
Famously described by Aidan O'Brien as the best he's ever trained, Australia comes to Epsom with a lot of expectation on his shoulders although whether he can live up to his lofty description remains open to question.
It is often said that great horses can handle various types of conditions, but O'Brien has made it clear that Australia would prefer good ground.
I don't think O'Brien is trying to make excuses, but I sometimes wonder if he regrets describing the colt in such glowing terms so early on.
As of yesterday, the weather forecast for the Surrey area was for heavy, thundery showers, so it was no surprise to see Australia's price drift out since Monday from 4/5 to 6/4.
A son of Galileo and Ouija Board (Derby and Oaks winners respectively), his breeding certainly suggests he'll step up in distance and improve on his third place in the Guineas.
Coupled with the fact that he's top of the official ratings in such a good quality race, this would make him hard to oppose under normal circumstances – but I still feel he's too short, given the doubts about the weather, despite the recent ease in price.
One horse that won't be inconvenienced by the ground is Kingston Hill – Roger Varian's colt won the Racing Post Trophy on poor going as a two-year-old.
He failed to make an impression in the Guineas and some have questioned whether he can cut it at the top, but he should improve over the middle distances and remains a very live threat to the favourite at 7/1.
However, at 12/1, True Story gets the nod this afternoon for the Saeed bin Suroor/Kieren Fallon combination. He dismissed his rivals in eye-catching style in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket back in April (beating subsequent winner Barley Mow), and he also appears to be the type that would appreciate the step up in trip.
While his third place in the Dante seemed a little disappointing at the time, he was only a length and-a-half behind the winner, The Grey Gatsby, which has since gone on to win the French Derby.
The last horse to win the Epsom Derby at a double-figure price was Luca Cumani's High-Rise (20/1) in 1998 on soft enough ground and, while True Story wouldn't want it heavy, his trainer reckons good-to-soft would be fine.
DO THE DOUBLE
Cirrus Des Aigles is a worthy favourite at 4/5 for the Coronation Cup at Epsom (2.40).
Despite the fact he's now aged eight, he showed no signs of slowing down when taking the Group One Prix Ganay at Longchamp and followed up with a recent win in the Prix d'Ispahan. With his preferred soft ground a distinct possibility, he should have enough to see off the likes of Flintshire and Talent.
Jim Gavin has said there are no guarantees in sport and that tomorrow's opponents, Laois, are one of Dublin's biggest threats in Leinster this year.
The O'Moore County deserve respect and it's good to see that Dublin are taking nothing for granted. However, at 1/40, it's almost impossible to see any other result other than a comprehensive victory for the champions.
Back Bernard Brogan to score a goal anytime at 11/10 (Paddy Power).
THE Peter Crate-trained Elusivity (10/1) slips in to the Epsom Dash (3.15) at the bottom of the weights at 8st 5lbs and he's definitely one to watch off a lenient mark of 88. He has found himself in the frame twice this year off that rating and is due to go up 2lb for his latest race at York, so he comes here today effectively a couple of pounds well-in.
2.40 Epsom: Cirrus Des Aigles
3.15 Epsom: Elusivity (e/w)
4.0 Epsom: True Story
6.25 Lingfield: Perfect Muse
7.15 Newcastle: Tanawar (e/w)