Andy Holding has seven selections, including a 4pt NAP in the Oaks and two tips in the Derby
GIVE HER A SQUEEZE (best price 33-1) shaped pretty nicely in a race which has already begun to take shape at Tipperary on her debut and even though she looks to have been totally dismissed by the layers judged on her morning odds, there’s a decent chance she will exceed those expectations.
Nibbled at in the market for her racecourse bow at the Limerick Junction venue, the daughter of Kodiac travelled as well as anything down to the furlong pole, but unlike some of her better-fancied rivals, she just didn’t quite see out the trip as well as expected. Whether it was down to fitness or she just wasn’t good enough only time will tell, but it’s worth pointing out the time figure was exceptionally good for a race of its nature and, with the second, third, and fourth all going on to advertise the value of the form since, it puts into perspective what she achieved 15 days ago. A big, strapping filly will plenty of scope for the future, she should, in theory, be seen in a better light over today’s extra trip and even though she faces no easy task up against several who have the potential to improve significantly as the season progresses, she looks worth a shy at the stumps at 33-1 just based on what she did first time up.
KRYPTOS (best price 5-1) gave out plenty of positive signals for the future with his comeback display following a mammoth 995-day absence at Newmarket recently and providing he can consolidate those performance levels instead of bouncing to the moon, John Berry’s gelding has the qualities to make his class tell.
A progressive handicapper back in 2017, the son of Cacique rounded off a series of fine efforts with his third win of the campaign at Doncaster and with all three of those victories coming with plenty of juice in the ground, the rain today’s venue has soaked up in the last 24 hours will come as a welcome relief. A strong traveller through his races, the likely fast pace in today’s contest should provide will no doubt play into his strengths and the six-year-old has every chance of making it 4-4 when Nicola Currie has been on board.
John Gosden has proven himself a dab-hand when it comes to fillies over the years and he looks to have another cab off the rank here with FRANKLY DARLING (NAP) (best price 7-4) a strong choice to topple short-priced favourite, Love, in the second fillies’ Classic of the season.
Just the one promising run at two, the daughter of Frankel has soon established as one the best of her generation in just two outings this term and with the latest of those victories coming courtesy of a quality performance in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, she certainly deserves her place on today’s big stage. Despite being a little keen in the early stages on the run down towards Swinley Bottom, she still had enough class and determination to fend off the late thrust of the more patiently-ridden Ennistymon at the Berkshire venue and that effort now sets her up perfectly for a tilt at today’s prize. Likely to settle better this afternoon given the first part of this Group 1 is run uphill, one can see her tracking her stable mate Tiempo Vuela until she gives way rounding Tattenham Corner and then being let loose to run for glory down the three-furlong straight.
ZOOHOOR (best price 5-1) ran a good deal better than her finishing position indicated at Newmarket on debut and she’s worth more than a second look to make more of an impact with that vital experience under belt.
Badly bulked as she came out of the stalls at HQ, William Haggas’ filly found herself in last as the field swept passed the three-furlong marker and then just as she was beginning to gather up a head of steam going down into the bushes, her path got blocked when a rival was dropping back into her lap over on the far side rail. Unable to recover in time, she did, however, ran on well enough to suggest she might have had some say in the final argument and with the potential to do a good deal better racing over further with some ease in the ground, the daughter of Dark Angel rates an interesting candidate in a quite a competitive little heat.
IVAN THE GREAT (best price 7-2) probably faced two above-average colts in the shape of Edward Hoppe and Aztec Parade here last time out, but he certainly did more than enough to suggest a race of today’s nature is well within his range and he rates a decent bet to prove that theory correct on his return visit.
Sixth and about as many lengths off the pace turning for home, the son of Ivawood stuck to his task manfully all the way down the straight and although he could never really land a meaningful blow at the front pair, the time figure of the race suggested he was trying to nail a blancmange to the ceiling. Likely to have come on for that chastening experience, Michael O’Callaghan’s gelding can put that valuable C&D form to good use and beat several who have bigger reputations and position in the market than their bare form affords them.
So many imponderables in what should turn out to be a fascinating Derby and in a year which has seen the goalposts moved regards the usual form lines and time frames we normally deal with in this Group 1 contest, a shock could be on the cards with either VATICAN CITY (best price 9-1) or WORTHILY (best price 40-1) both capable of causing one.
Of the pair, the former winning wouldn’t be the biggest shock in the world following his excellent performance when runner-up to the impressive Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas and based on just that evidence alone, it’s pretty clear he’s likely to improve significantly when asked to race beyond a mile. That said, had he got a run earlier than he did at the Curragh it may well have been a different story and the combination of speed he showed that day allied to the potential stamina he harbours over today’s trip makes him more than an intriguing contender. Seemingly dismissed in the market by bookmakers and punters alike since deserted by stable jockeys Ryan Moore and Seamie Heffernan, that policy by many might end up being unwise considering the son of Galileo has just as much upside as the likes of Mogul and Russian Emperor from the same yard, and in any case, today’s pilot Padraig Beggy will relish the prospect of potentially going out and riding his third Classic winner knowing he has little weight of expectation on his shoulders.
The latter takes a little more explaining, but the mere fact that his canny handler - who knows the time of day when it comes to training Classic winners – is prepared to risk the son of Point Of Entry in a race of this nature after just one start speaks volumes for how highly he rates this one-raced maiden winner. Making his racecourse debut just 23 days ago, the stoutly-bred colt was well-fancied to kick off his career in the best possible fashion and as it turned out, the market vibes beforehand proved spot on. Despite missing the break and racing towards the rear early, he soon arrived on the scene going well and just having to be nudged out hands and heels in the later stages, he scored readily in the style of a horse of some potential. Whether he will be good enough or streetwise enough for a Derby only time will tell, but it’s worth pointing out that he comes from the same family which produced Lucarno to win the St Leger back in 2007 and for that reason, he’s probably worth a few quid at his current price for the final Classic of the season impending a positive performance here this afternoon.
Of those down the front end of the market, English King appears the most likely to pass today’s test as, like Anthony Van Dyck last season, he’s already proven he stays well and acts around an undulating track with his win at Lingfield last time out. There has been much discussion as to whether his inside draw will prevent him from winning, but it’s probably worth questioning as to whether any horse has had the class or credentials to win the race since Oath won back in 1999 from stall one rather than get bogged down with such a self-fulfilling stat. Whether a horse like Guineas winner Kameko will stay or not has been another topic for debate in the build up to the race, but as is often the case, all the research from all the best pedigree experts in the world can only surmise, as the truth of the matter is none of us really know until the race is done and dusted.