Inside today’s main piece I’m looking at Saturday’s Irish Derby. Plus, I have looked at a couple of today’s races.
Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
The supplementing of Tuesday to Saturday’s race adds a new layer of intrigue to this year’s Irish Derby. You must go back to Balanchine (1994) and Salsabil (1990) for the last fillies to do the Epsom Oaks/Irish Derby Double. That said not many fillies run in the race, just two in the past 20-years and a high-class fillies like Balanchine & Salsabil have shown Tuesday can win it.
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Westover remains the most likely winner but at the prices I want to take him on. He’s a best priced 7/4 with Coral & Ladbrokes. The same price as Tuesday and I can see the filly going off favourite on the day.
Next in the betting is another O’Brien runner Stone Age at around 8/1. He probably didn’t give his running when 6th in the Derby but does have 8 ¼ length to find with Westover and I’m not sure he wants 1m 4f. The fact that O’Brien has supplemented Tuesday suggests he hasn’t been sparkling at home. The Coral Eclipse over 1m 2f looks a better fit for him anyway.
Each way contenders
Piz Badile looked a smart prospect when finding plenty for pressure to win the Group 3 Group Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in the spring. Sent off 9/1 for the Derby he seemingly didn’t handle the track when a well beaten twelfth at Epsom. If you’re prepared to overlook that run, he remains capable of better and has each way claims at 10/1.
Hannibal Barca was bought for 500,000 gns after finishing a 2-length 4th of 8 to Luxembourg in the Futurity at Doncaster. Now with Joseph O’Brien he made a successful stable debut when winning a Group 3 at the Curragh last month. He should stay 1m 4f and he’s another with each-way claims. Stablemate Buckeroo was a short head second to Piz Badile in the Ballysax before going onto win a Listed Tetrarch Stakes over a mile at the Curragh. He didn’t give his running when a very disappointing second favourite in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last time. On breeding he’s bred for 1m 4f with both his half-brothers having won over the distance.
I was impressed with Lionel when he won the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes (1m 3f) at Goodwood last month. Given the steadily run race wouldn’t have suited him and nor did the track. This was a fine effort from the colt. There’s more improvement to come from him as he steps up to 1m 4f+ and a more conventional track. That said he does fail a few of the key race trends. All the last 20 winners of the race had made 4-8 career starts, had placed in a Group race and were no bigger than 13/2 for their last win. On breeding he’s bred for 1m 4f with both his half brothers winning over the distance.
I think Tuesday will have too much speed for Westover and can become the first filly since Balanchine to win the Irish Derby. For those looking for each way selections. I’m a big fan of Lionel and provided the ground isn’t too quick he can run a big race. I don’t know if Joseph O’Brien will run Buckeroo but if you forgive his Irish 2,000 Guineas, he would have a similar chance to Piz Badile and he’s double that ones odds at 20/1 with William Hill but just 12/1 with Ladbrokes.
The first of three days of action at Newcastle. I was hoping there might be a bet or two at Newcastle but there isn’t. Indeed, it’s not a day for solid betting opportunities but there are several older horses who are on decent looking marks and could bounce back to winning ways.
6:45 – Blackheath is increasingly looking regressive and he’s 0-13, 1 place since switching to Michael Dods yard. On the plus side the 7-year-old is a former C&D winner. Plus, all three of his turf wins have come on good to firm/firm ground. Today’s field size looks another positive as he’s 4-16 +9.25 9 placed when racing in field sizes 11 & under. Compared with 0-26, 3 placed in race with 12+ runners. The first time visor is fitted to replacing the cheekpieces which looks like a last throw of the dice but it might work. Not one for maximum faith but the yard is among the winners and i think he could be set for a much better performance.
3:45 – Lord Rapscallion is on a losing run that goes back to August 2020. He’s also 0-18, 5 placed since joining Stuart Williams. He almost took advantage of some leniency by the handicapper when a length 2nd of 15 at Epsom last time. Not one to take a short price about though and the trainer is 0-20 in the past 14-days.
4:55 – Mr Chua has run respectably, nor more, on both starts since returning from wind surgery (third). However, he’s on a fair mark at present. There’s also a decent chance he will get an uncontested lead in this 2m handicap. Jim Crowley is back in the saddle form figures 12 on the gelding and the 6-year-old’s form figures when racing between 16 to 30 days since his last start are 2112.
I said yesterday’s selection Dubai Mirage was a tricky ride and it was in evidence again. His head was high throughout the race, and I think the only time it was down was right on the line. Mind you that was when it matters.
On balance of probabilities, I will leave Lord Rapscallion alone, unless he was a double figure price. That leaves' the well handicapped Blackheath and Mr Chua for today’s selection.
6:45 – Blackheath – 15/2 – Gen.
Good luck with your Thursday bets.