The Derby looks a wide open heat this year and Andy Holding fancies 25-1 shot!
Improving at a rapid rate of knots, Ed Dunlop’s charge first sprung to prominence when impressing with the manner of his victory at Chester’s May meeting. Although it was only a run-of-the-mill handicap he claimed, the speed figure and sectional times he posted that day indicated he was miles better than his rating at the time. Even taking into account he raced on a different day and the rails may have been slightly tinkered with (20yrds difference at best), his final lap time of 1.40.0 was bang up there with the likes of Cannock Chase (1.40.2) and, more importantly, US Army Ranger (1.39.9), and given that those two were capturing Group 3 prizes in running those times, it was clear that the son of Lemon Drop Kid was a pattern performer masquerading as a handicapper.
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Going on to prove that notion correct with an embarrassingly easy victory off an 8lb higher mark at Haydock two weeks later, he now finds himself on a more realistic rating in-keeping with his ability (102) and it’s from this point where connections have obviously had a huge change of heart. Having probably had one eye on the King George V Handicap at the Royal meeting after Chester, they have clearly had a good look at the fresh options facing them and, quite rightly, decided on having a crack at the sport’s biggest Flat race. Based on the findings on the Roodee, there decision to stump up the 75k supplementary fee is a sound one, and using US Army Ranger as a guide from their Chester performances, there’s no way Red Verdon should be six times the price of Aidan O’Brien’s number-one hope.
Moreover, he’s one of the few guaranteed stayers in the field with two victories to his name over 1m 4f, appears to have a very sound temperament – which will obviously come in handy with all the hullaballoo and razzamatazz of Derby Day – and is ridden by a jockey who, on the big stage, is cooler than the other side of a pillow.