DAQMAN PUTS ON THE STYLE IN PARIS: Daqman named the French 2,000 Guineas winner, Style Vendome (WON 58-10), but then saw the rest of his Longchamp bets beaten in photo-finishes: Esoterique (2nd 2-1) by a neck in the French 1,000, and Place In My Heart (3rd 12-1) by a head and a neck in the Saint-Georges sprint, run in very fast time.
THE DERBY PICTURE THROUGH THE TELESCOPE: Today Daqman puts the Derby scene under the microscope – or should that be through the telescope – and assesses each contender. His bets for today are at the foot of the column.
Ballydoyle has won the battles but lost the war. That’s my view of their clean sweep of Derby trials with Battle Of Marengo, Ruler Of The World, Magician, Nevis and, yesterday, Battle Of Marengo again.
We’re in the final week now of trying to find an Epsom hero, and Thursday’s Dante may yet contain the winner, or at least something to challenge Dawn Approach, with Greatwood (Cumani) and Indian Chief (O’Brien) now taking on Telescope (Stoute).
But York isn’t an O’Brien backyard: he’s won the race, of course, but – with the exception of Cape Blanco, who went on to win the Irish Derby – his Dante colts have not been memorable.
Unless you have some personal reason to disagree (like your wallet got fat on them that day), Saratoga Springs, Septimus and Black Bear Island were second rate at best, ‘nearly’ horses in the Classic scheme of things.
The O’Brien flock are largely Galileos and the way it looks he will be sending out a half-dozen hopefuls against Dawn Approach: he did, in fact, saddle six against Sea The Stars, exactly 50% of the field.
His procession was headed by Fame And Glory (second), Masterofthehorse (third) and Rip Van Winkle (fourth), with Golden Sword, Age Of Aquarius and that Dante winner, Black Bear Island, 10 of 12.
The four in at the finish earned almost £500,000 that day, so Ballydoyle’s Derby gourmandising has its immediate and tasty rewards as well as its stud-book prowess.
And two of the four proved themselves big time afterwards: Fame And Glory went on to win the Irish Derby and Rip Van Winkle the Sussex Stakes.
Indian Chief is not a Galileo but a Montjeu and related more to milers than middle distance, with the dam having dropped nothing of note so far, but some his sons tend to take after Montjeu (temperament and all). His best are the best.
Indian Chief was confidently ridden to win at Leopardstown and you could say that the runner-up franked the form when he went on to score at Tipperary.
But the handicapper would no doubt disagree: that runner-up, Dubai Deer, was building on only an 82 rating, and at Tipperary was beating two colts of seemingly little consequence (trained by Aidan O’Brien!)
Greatwood missed the Nevis trial at Lingfield when odds-on to beat the subsequent Ballydoyle winner, and now has to meet his Highclere buddy, Telescope at York.
Greatwood, too, is not a Galileo, but his dam was one, and she was closely related to that Dante second and Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory.
Greatwood was closing down Windhoek with every stride at the business end of a 1m 2f Newmarket conditions race in April, with Ghurair third.
This could be Classic form or nearly so since, last October, Ghurair had finished a head in front of Havana Gold, who was threeparts-of-a-length fifth in yesterday’s French 2,000 Guineas from a difficult middle draw.
It makes Toronado’s defeat in the Newmarket Classic all the harder to understand, since he slammed Havana Gold four lengths in the Craven. Or are we back to the same affirmation: the Newmarket winner, Dawn Approach, is just way, way ahead of them all?
Telescope is the ‘one most likely to’ of the York contenders on Thursday. His trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has won the Dante five times, of which Shahrastani (1986) became the most famous, as the colt that beat Dancing Brave at Epsom.
Stoute’s Dante winners Alnasr Alwasheek (1992, finished 11th at Epsom) and Dilshaan (2001, seventh) were flops in the Derby.
But Carlton House (2011) was third to Pour Moi, Tartan Bearer (2008) was second to New Approach. And, yeh, in 2004 North Light won it.
Telescope, yet another good looking son of Galileo out of a mare by French champion three-year-old Darshaan, had two quick educational races last September.
He’s been working impressively on the Newmarket gallops, according to my man in the long grass, and is likely to start a short price on Thursday.
Battle Of Marengo is unbeaten in his last five starts, his Ballysax success boosted in the Sandown Classic Trial by Sugar Boy, runner-up at Leopardstown.
But, back at Leopardstown yesterday for the Derby Trial, and backed off the boards – he was 2-13 at the ‘off’ – Battle Of Marengo did indeed have to battle, winning in workmanlike manner.
I can’t crab his victory too much, since I was on the runner-up Loch German, who had been working well from a stable (Bolger’s) which has had an excellent Spring.
Maybe ‘Marengo’ is a Fame And Glory or a Leger winner. I prefer him to Ruler Of The World, but much preferred Magician in his paces.
Ruler Of The World I said before he won the Chester Vase that Ruler Of The World was not for me. Yes, he bolted up in the end but there was nothing else in the race with any quality or turn of foot and I thought Ladbrokes’ man was spot on immediately afterwards to go half a dozen points bigger for the Epsom Derby than anyone else at 14-1.
It was very hard to imagine Ruler Of The World beating Dawn Approach on June 1. Ryan Moore said when he dismounted that Ruler Of The World ‘is a good horse.’
But he’d just beaten a 93-rated animal and Dawn Approach was 124 going into the Guineas. We’re talking two stone difference! Then some.
Of course, that didn’t stop the Ballydoyle lemmings latching on to him, though they must have felt a flutter near their wallets when the same stable’s Magician won the Dee Stakes just as easily.
Magician beat the 99-rated Contributer but can expect only around 105 for his pains, which ties in with the 89-rated third in the race, Glacial Age.
I liked Magician’s action most of all the Ballydoyle trialists but it will be fascinating to see the jockey choice for Epsom. Maybe Mars will turn will out again and do something in the Dante.
Mars Running Battle Of Marengo twice this year raised my eyebrows. There would be no good reason to do so, if you already thought you had an Epsom winner.
Mars, on the other hand, came into the 2,000 Guineas from just one run in an AW maiden as a juvenile and could well improve significantly on his Newmarket sixth to Dawn Approach.
Festive Cheer One trial that O’Brien didn’t win was yesterday’sPrix Hocquart, for which his Festive Cheer started 14-5 joint favourite and was beaten two short-heads.
The Montjeu colt was another that came to his second season with limited experience, having won on the Dundalk polytrack, showing ‘immediate acceleration’, according to the Racing Post racereader, and ‘travelled like a dreamm’ in the words of jockey Joseph O’Brien.
The Hocquart winner, Tableaux, had won a prestigious trial in April, the Prix Noailles, but also in a blanket finish (half a length and short-neck), suggesting that here we have half a dozen colts ‘all of a heap.’ Not Classic material.
VERDICT: All credit to Aidan O’Brien for sweeping up the large part of the trials but I’m looking through the big end of the telescope at the Ballydoyle Derby contingent.
For me, they’ve grown smaller in stature, not bigger, as a set of soft and largely unimpressive trials have progressed.
Of course, whichever is their number one would be a threat, but, unless the real Telescope is worth paying to view the right way round on this Epsom promenade, the Derby field looks all at sea against Dawn Approach.
Meanwhile, whatever beats Intello will win the French Derby. He came with a right old rattle from an impossible draw behind my winning bet, Style Vendome, in the French 2,000 yesterday.
On the fillies’ front, Flotilla has got to be of a very high standard to have won Breeders Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and come straight back to win yesterday’s Longchamp 1,000.
I thought I had it in the bag when Esoterique took over but Flotilla ate her up close home, the pair four lengths clear.
Incidentally, that law unto themselves with milers, Hughes, Hannon and Hannon must have been delighted with the late work of the fourth filly home, Zurigha, another to come from an impossible position (stall 17).
But whatever did happen to Toronado? The firm of Hughes, Hannon and Hannon must surely show him to the public on a racecourse again soon. Dawn Approach can’t be that good. Or can he?
BET 5.8pts win NAFA (1.50 Wolverhampton)
BET 8.5pts win (nap) DEFENDANT (2.10 Doncaster)
BET 3.5pts win on each SHESASTAR and ZACYNTHUS (4.25 Doncaster)
BET 2.3pts win GUEST OF HONOUR and 2.3pts (stakes saver) MONTIRIDGE (7.20 Windsor)
DAQMAN TARGETS: Stakes are to win 20 points. One winner covers all other bets.
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