SUNDAY’S Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown has been a fair English Derby rehearsal since the turn of the century.
But while all of you know that I’ve been wrong many times before, I can’t help thinking this year’s Derrinstown was something of a damp squib with eventual winner Fascinating Rock only getting the result in the stewards’ room after Ebanoran had crossed the line first.
The result barely caused a ripple in our Derby antepost market with Fascinating Rock remaining a 16-1 poke, while Ebanoran is an even bigger 20-1 (from 40-1).
However, we did cut favourite Australia into 5-4 favourite (from 6-4f) as, in my mind, he’s the only horse to have run a really serious trial for the event with his staying on third in the English 2,000 Guineas and you just can’t knock previous Classic form.
It remains to be seen whether the last real serious trial, the Dante Stakes at York, live on Channel 4 Racing on Thursday, can throw up another serious contender for Epsom, but at the moment the market is fairly stagnant with no real alternatives to Australia having yet emerged.
This Sunday the Vintage Crop Stakes features at Navan and I’m really looking forward to seeing Aidan O’Brien’s stayer Leading Light kick off his campaign en route to a probable tilt at the Ascot Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
This fellow was among around 40 horses that the master of Ballydoyle worked at The Curragh after racing earlier in the year and the four-year-old looked to have lost none of the zest that carried him to four wins last season, including in the English St Leger at Doncaster.
His campaign ended in disappointment in the Arc when he could only muster a 12th place to Treve, but his form, including a seven length win at Navan, before that makes him a serious candidate in this race.
We know that he stays the 1m 6f as he landed the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over two miles last season and I think he’ll have too much class for his opponents before he moves on to the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown.
Rodger Sweeney might not be a name all of you instantly recognize but the Cork conjuror is the man who masterminded dual Foxhunters’ Chase winner Salsify’s career and hopefully he’ll saddle Foolish Notions at Tipperary on Thursday evening.
This fellow really deserves a win having been placed on his last two starts and I think the extra half a mile really will bring out the best in him as he was keeping on really well when runner-up to Roman Numeral last time at Tramore last month.
Yielding ground represents no problems to the selection as it was faster at Tramore, but he’s also run well on heavy, and I could see this guy winning a small race like this before being competitive in a bigger event.
Congratulations to Manchester City on their Premier League victory, winning their last five matches which showed a hell of a lot of bottle, especially the 3-2 win at Goodison Park over Everton which looked the hardest task on paper and was never going to be easy.
I think they are a stonking good bet at a current 15-8 to win the title again next year despite Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard saying that his side has a lot of young players who can only improve for this year’s experience.
Maybe, but I think the whole team will be knocked for six after going long odds-on for the title, and City prevailed despite showing poor away form early in the campaign.
Now Manchester City to win the 2014/15 Premier League; Thursday, Tipperary, 6.05pm - Foolish Notions; Sunday, Navan, 4.35pm - Leading Light
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