Sky Sports Racing’s Alex Hammond recalled some of the outsiders who did well at Epsom before debating the merits of some of this year’s Derby longshots.
You must be careful what you wish for, as I’m finding out about the Cashew Derby at Epsom this weekend.
Summer has finally arrived and despite having 88mm of rain during the first 24 days of May, Epsom’s Clerk of Course Andrew Cooper had to turn on the tap this week so the ground didn’t pound too hard.
As I told you last week, I thought Derby bets on Mack Swine had gone west, but later the Irish were busy congratulating themselves for their foresight after their resounding victory at the 2000 Guinness. However, this sultry weather isn’t filling me with confidence and by the time his chance is completely over, the softer conditions will improve a lot.
So who if not Mac Sweeney? I certainly think the race is more open than it suggests, with Sky Bet betting on the Bolshoi Ballet as the 6/4 favorite. Given the SPs of some of the most recent winners of this unique challenge, this seems like little to me.
For those with a long memory like me, the 500/1 about runner-up Terrimon in 1989 was extraordinary, but recently we’ve seen 25/1 and 40/1 winners of this great race. While I’m not predicting a shock to those ratios, there are a handful of Colts betting on the bottom side that can’t be ruled out entirely.
One such horse is One Ruler (25/1 with Sky Bet), who, like Mack Swinney, is also in top form on the testing field, but is expected to progress to a better surface this season for Charlie Appleby. He was a bit curious in the early stages of his reappearance in 2000’s Guinness and was not given a hard time once his chance was gone. Dante winner Hurricane Lane is the stable’s number one hope, but this lad can’t be ruled out with the confidence he showed as a teenager.
Also, the Lone Eagle winners at 33/1 will most likely be unlikely. I tipped him for his reappearance at Sanddown in Classic Trials, but he went down there and usually when I left him alone, he would duly hack into the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood (also known as The first was called Predominate Steak for those of us with a certain vintage).
It is believed to have produced no Derby winners since Troy in 1979, but Khalifa Sait won the race in 2020 and finished second in the Derby with a 50/1. Lone Eagle hit me like a lager horse and his trainer Martin Meade has said as much, but I wouldn’t discount him from running in Epsom’s places.
What about a 33/1 winner for Joseph O’Brien, who won races on Camelot and Australia as a jockey and would have sat on a few more Derby winners than him at Ballydoyle. The Southern Lights are their representative, and it’s hard to gauge them having only three starters, but clearly have a good reputation.
He was well prepared for his debut as a two-year-old and was touched before he came back as a three-year-old and impressed with his first win at Leopardstown. Then he stepped into a derby trial and what a test that was. The Bolshoi Ballet won the Darrinstown Stud Derby Trials, equaling Mac Swinney in fourth place. s
The Outer Lights were only 6th, but had trouble running due to late progress and then headed home. It certainly wasn’t a bad run as his finishing spot suggests and he must have learned a lot from that. He wasn’t in the same class as the winner, but it looked like a step up to a mile and a half would be appropriate (and probably further in time) and without that important check would end up a terrifyingly close.
So, a few all-around options for you away from the obvious runners and paying four places instead of three with Sky Bet might be worth taking a chance on something at some cost. I’m still metaphorically holding that mac swine ticket to my grubby mitts and hoping for the best.
The Kazoo Oaks announcements have been made and we now know that 14 Phillies will line up on Friday. Speaking of reputation, 1000 was somewhat larger than Santa Barbara before its reappearance in Guinea. That was only the start of her second lifetime and her inexperience showed, but I don’t believe Epsom will totally bring out the best in her, so I’m happy to have her again. Sky Bet has gone a better way in the Oaks and is paying out five spots, so what good could the price go for here?
Saffron Beach is a 10/1 shot with Sky Bet and I think they’ve got a great claim to give their excellent coach Jane Chappell-Hyam the first classic win. Did you see his Uber Cool win in Chester on Saturday? The horse had not set foot on the racecourse for more than two and a half years, but was shaken and won while handspring. To prepare a horse to do that after such a long layoff takes some work and Saffron Beach is in good hands. Not sure about her stamina, but that’s my only reservation.
Sorbet Lemon should come into the reckoning at an even greater cost. He is 25/1 despite the win at the Lingfield Oaks Trials. He’s not one of those ‘sexy’ runners, so maybe Archie Watson and Holly Doyle were overlooked. Lingfield is just as close compared to Epsom and generally if you are faced with Lingfield, Epsom’s cambers should have no fear. She was so gutsy when she won last time and I’m not sure she has the class to win the Oaks, I could have envisioned her finishing in the first 5 on Friday for her up-and-coming young trainer.
There’s no love in the Coral Coronation Cup, but there’s a lot of love for 4/5 favorite Al Assi and it’s no surprise considering their two Newbury wins this season. He was not taken off the reins the last time he was dismissed and had done a lot for a premature win.
Were those Group 1 performances? This will be their toughest test against proven top-level performers, and I was actually taken in by a resurgent Japan in Chester last month. It was on a trip that seemed like it might pull him against a horse that had the stamina to burn, but his class told, and he looked great there. I’m happy to be with him and the odds-on 100/30 is more attractive to me than the favorite.
Anyway, now that the sunshine has finally arrived, it might go around for a while, because my Royal Ascot outfits wouldn’t be complimented by a raincoat and it wouldn’t do those fancy hats too well! It will soon be time to talk to you about the biggest flat festival in the world and I can’t wait to be there for five full days for Sky Sports Racing.
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