Friday, 6 June 2008

Dom's Derby Deductions

Saturday June 5th 2008, 16:00 - the 229th Derby Stakes, a Group One race for three year olds and easily one of the most prestigious flat racing prizes in the world, run over a mile, four furlongs and ten yards.

Last year’s race was won by Frankie Dettori on board Authorized (right) the 5/4 favourite who won like such a clear favourite ought to, by an impressive five lengths from the 6/1 second favourite Eagle Mountain. This year’s race couldn’t be more different though, with a whole host of horses in with a strong shout and we look set for a much tighter race, one which really makes the mouth water.

Before I start analysing the race, here are a few random facts about the race; some you will no doubt know, others you may not:

The race takes it’s name, rather fantastically in my view, from the result of a complete gamble. Edward Smith Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby, created a race for his friends to run their fillies, naming it after his estate (“The Oaks”, also a Group One race run at Epsom) and it was such a success that another race was added the following year. He and Sir Charles Bunbury, a politician and leading racing figure at the time, decided to flip a coin to see whom it ought to be named after. “The Derby” was born.

In 1913, Emily Davison (the famous suffragette) was trampled by King George V’s horse as she tried to drape a suffragette banner on it, during the race. She died four days later - let this be a lesson to you ladies, doing the dishes is clearly the safer option. The same year the race was “won” by the 6/4 favourite but controversially, the horse was later disqualified and the race was awarded to a 100/1 shot.

In 1927, the race was televised for the first time by the BBC.

The last time a filly took part (the race is open to both colts and fillies) was in 1998, in the form of 11/4 favourite Cape Verdi, the 1,000 Guineas winner earlier that year, but she could only muster a 9th place finish. The last time a filly won was way back in 1916 – Fifinella. She also won the Oaks the same year.

Only four greys have ever won the Derby, the most recent being Airbourne in 1946.

The obvious place to start attempting to solve the puzzle of who will win in 2008 is with New Approach. Jim Bolger controversially decided to run him at the last minute after telling us for the past six weeks that he definitely would NOT take part in the race, a decision that is going to cost a lot of ante-post punters money. Not me though, because I would never back the horse over this distance! Anyone who read my Guineas preview will know that I opposed him as there were doubts over whether he could step up to a mile and if that’s a reason to doubt him for the Guineas, it’s a reason to rule him out completely for the mile and four long Derby. Perhaps I’m being a little cocky, he’s as short as 4/1 second favourite with most bookmakers, but come on, it failed in the 2,000 Guineas AND the Irish 2,000 Guineas and there’s some really good competition in this race. I expect it to drift on race day.

Another one I can confidently rule out is Rio De La Plata. Godolphin just aren’t firing at the minute and Saeed Bin Suroor has a poor recent record in this race; his last fifteen runners have all failed! Rio De La Plata is only here because they simply haven’t got a good enough three year old middle distance type – the horse very much prefers it over a mile.

Nine of the last ten Derby winners were in the top four in the market at the off and half of them were in the top two. That for me is just too powerful to ignore, especially when you add in the fact that only High-Rise (1998, 20/1) has won at odds larger than 14/1.

The favourite, Casual Conquest (left) was badly outpaced in the last of his two runs and had to be niggled at before he got moving. Still a touch green, trainer Dermot Weld didn’t seem that pleased with the run, but he’s clearly open to a lot of improvement and it’s going to be hard to rule him out.

Having already ruled out New Approach, the next market leader is Curtain Call but there are doubts over how he’ll cope with the ground, for me. He wasn’t impressive on his one outing on good ground in the RP Trophy and the going at Epsom is currently just that. His last outing was on good to soft but in a three horse race, with two vastly inferior competitors, we can read nothing into it. He’s also been withdrawn from a race due to firmer ground, so unless it pours down the night before, I feel okay about ruling him out.

It’s worth nothing that Michael Stoute and Henry Cecil have both trained four derby winners and that Aidan O’Brien has had two winners, two seconds and a third this decade. For me, the winner is going to be trained by one of these guys, O’Brien in particular stands out as his Ballydoyle stable is in terrific form of late, coupled with his impressive record in this race. That isn’t as bold a predication as it might seem, however; Cecil saddles one runner, Stoute three and O’Brien five – half the field between them!

It makes sense at this point to check out the Derby trials:

The Dee Stakes at Chester has produced two Derby winners in the last nine years (and only five actually went on to compete, boosting it’s credibility even further) but the winner of this year’s event Tajaweed didn’t impress me. I watched the race as I’d backed Tajaweed and when it was finished, I walked out of the room in disgust; I didn’t think it had won. The judges disagreed and I scooped, but that race really sticks in my mind, I really can’t back Tajaweed in the Derby after that.

No Chester Vase winner has followed up in the Derby since Shergar in 1981, which is a negative for Doctor Fremantle, though I still feel this horse has an outside chance – the each way thieves could do much worse than to back him.

The winner of this year’s Sandown Classic Trial won’t compete in the Derby (which is a shame as I got 100 about Centennial ages back, for micro stakes) which will extend the 22 year wait for a Derby winner by another year.

The one that really grabs me though, is the Dante Stakes. Six of the last twenty-two Derby winners had scored in the Dante, three of them in last four years. Tartan Bearer (right) belied his inexperience to win it this year, beating Twice Over and Frozen Fire in the process and of course, Ryan Moore will be on board; the 2006 champion jockey is in good form.

As an outside pick, I quite like the look of King Of Rome. Johnny Murtagh has chosen this one of the five Ballydoyle nags, which is a huge boost, though it’s twice finished behind Alessandro Volta. He seems to think it’s a progressive sort and that it’s come on a lot in a short space of time – who am I to doubt him?

In conclusion then, I’m finding it very difficult to choose. I wanted to oppose the favourite, I came into this with Tartan Bearer in the back of my mind and I’m really struggling to separate the two. Because Casual Conquest is a big sort and might not enjoy the track and because Tartan Bearer is a Stoute horse (plus it’s a bigger price!) I’m going with the latter. If the 7/1 on offer isn’t enough for you, I suggest a cheeky e/w nibble on the Murtagh ride. Don’t overlook Doctor Fremantle either, he’s already proven over the distance and the only reason I haven’t plumped for him is the fact that Ryan Moore chose Tartan Bearer over him.

My VERY tentative 1-2-3:

Tartan Bearer – Casual Conquest – King Of Rome.


Will Walsh said...

Good work Dom.
I agree its a wide open race this. New Approach is pounds ahead of the others on current form but there are a number of horses which have any amount of improvement in them and I expect a couple of them to do this. When I saw Casual Conquest win the Derrinstown that performance had derby winner written all over it. Form isn't quite in the book but he could be anything.

For me the 3 Stoute horses are all lacking class and all 3 ground out trial wins. I'm not saying they won't win but on what they have shown I couldnt back them.

As Dom stated Murtagh rides King of Rome-this one simply doesn't have the form to win a Derby but the trainer is a master so anything is possible. I like one of his other runners though-Washington Irvine and at 50/1 you could do far worse for an each way bet. Moonstone got the each way money for me and connections yesterday in the Oaks.

Of the others I am amazed that Curtain Call disputes favouritism. If anyone can give me an piece of form which gives him even a chance of getting placed then I will buy them a beer.

As for tommorow I am off to Ladies day at Musselburgh where Record Breaker is my best bet in the 3.05. Happy punting

moDtheGod said...

Can we get Will involved in the blog, please?

Also, I am amazed that New Approach ran as well as that, but I'm happy that my 1-2 came in 2-3, that's a moral victory. E/W ftw!

Mountain Man said...

Well done Dom, good tipping there. Didn't have a punt myself though...maybe I should have.

Agreed about Will, we discussed it elsewhere and it was all favourable, so it's just a case of giving him admin powers I think, and of course a profile. His input will be valued, especially as I (and others I assume) have not been doing much in terms of either poker or sports betting in the last few weeks or so.

In fact, I've been sleeping far too much recently, I need to get back into a routine and do some constructive stuff.

TheHat said...

lol, it's not good tipping.

he ruled out the winner and most likely wasn't on TB e/w.

Mountain Man said...

Compared to most of the other tips on here in recent weeks, it is ;-)

Will Walsh said...

I'm now a fully fledged member-cheers guys.I'm of the opinion that we all have a lot of knowledge across a variety of sports and that if we can use and share that knowledge sensibly we could all start making some serious money. I'd class horse racing and tennis as my top 2 sports but need to try and diversify.

I think between us we called the Derby pretty well. Nothing improved past new approach which was a shame as a man like Jim Bolger shouldn't be allowed to win a Derby. I also predicted Washington Irving would be best of the O'Brien runners which was true although he couldnt quite get a place.

Have to side with scott though that it wasn't that great tipping as the each way odds would only have seen you break even.

Musselburgh was great-got two winners but made a few stupid bets as is standard when I go racing but paid for all expenses which is always a bonus. Record Breaker (which I even told my bosses boss at work to back) did the business for me as predicted so I think I may be coming into form.

moDtheGod said...

I'll clear this up - it wasn't tipping! I have stated several times that anything I post in here is merely a log of my own betting activities and my own thoughts on races. I am NOT tipping. I ran a blog for a short time where I tried to tip and I didn't have much joy, so that was knocked on the head.

I am NOT a tipster :)

And I was on Tartan Bearer each way, at 8/1 for a micro profit.

moDtheGod said...

Oh yeah, thoguh I didn't actually state it on here, everyone I spoke to about it in real life, I advised not to bet at all because it was wide open.

And I did say my prediction was "very tentative". Hardly the confident statement of a tipster ;)

Will Walsh said...

No I get that you weren't tipping-if you notice I didn't actually nail my colours to the mast either although I did end up backing Casual Conquest. If the disgrace of a man that is Jim Bolger hadn't run new approach we might have even got the forecast up.

moDtheGod said...

Yeah, I have to say I have been a bit miffed with him this last week. I don't know that much about his history, I've only been folling horse racing for 10 months, but his behaviour leading up to the Derby has been questionable.

"It won't run" for 6 weeks and yet less than a week before "It will run"; his casual reaction to it in the press, almsot like it didn't matter; plus all the nonsense about having it ponied to the start.

The Kenster said...

what is *will* doing here?
what a cunt.

My dad had curtain call which didnt get anywhere. Incidently a fabulous race. From where tartan bearer and new approach came, it was amazing and close to the end too.