2015 Epsom Derby: Elm Park to take some catching

THE Epsom Derby should be today. Wednesday. As it used to be. However it’s on Saturday at 4.30pm. No, I don’t know why either. Anyway, whinge over: so who’s going to win racing’s blue riband? Fifteen were left in at the final confirmation and supplementary stage on Monday and, as expected, the owners of favourite Golden Horn and Success Days forked out the £75k required for their charges to run. Here is a guide to the leading contenders and some personal thoughts…

GOLDEN HORN: The Dante, in my opinion, was by far the strongest trial. Not everyone agrees with that. But I think the winner will come from one of the first three home, who pulled 13 lengths clear of the remainder. Golden Horn looks pretty bombproof but two things worry me. One, will he stay 1m 4f in a truly run race? I’m not totally convinced. Two, he is a hold-up horse, so there is the danger of finding traffic trouble. I’m also put off by the fact he is as short as 7/4. Saying all that, he could go and win easily for Frankie Dettori just as Authorized did in 2007. I’ll be looking for a bit of value elsewhere. 7/10

ELM PARK: If the Derby was still run today i.e on a Wednesday (as it should be, you’re getting the drift now…) then Elm Park would be my tip as the ground is currently on the slow side. This fella was far from fully tuned up in the Dante but ran very well, and has six lengths to find with Golden Horn. The big plus is that he’ll stay; the negative is his possible inability to handle the track, which he hinted at during the Breakfast With The Stars event. I spoke to Andrew Balding last week in an interview for the Sunday Express. You can read it here. Balding was pretty bullish about his horse although you would expect him to be. My other worry is that the forecast hot weather might dry out the ground. He is as big as 9/1 and I think he could drift further in the market. If so, he becomes a serious each-way bet. Wait and see what the ground is like on Saturday. 9/10

JACK HOBBS: Visually at least, he seemed to handle the contours of Epsom really well at Breakfast With The Stars. He should stay all right and he is firmly in the mix. He will run in the blue colours of Godolphin who recently bought a share in the horse. A major player if, as expected, he runs. 8/10

SUCCESS DAYS: He has been supplemented after his runaway victory at Leopardstown on very soft ground. But he’ll need more rain to be a serious contender and I don’t think he’s going to get it. 4/10

STORM THE STARS: If you’re looking for an outsider to sneak a place, then this boy might be the answer. He was beaten by Hans Holbein at Chester but was unsuited by the soft ground. He bounced back impressively at Goodwood and gave the impression that the Derby trip would be up his alley. 6/10

MOHEET: A rare Derby runner for the Hannons. Moheet has definite ability and is unexposed but has only raced over a mile and has a lot to prove. 5/10

KILIMANJARO: A decent each-way wager this one. Like Elm Park, he would ideally like softer ground but he will stay and if Aidan O’Brien is going to train another Derby winner it could be this chap, although it would be a surprise. Joseph O’Brien rides. 7/10

GIOVANNI CANALETTO: A major Derby gamble started on this fellow yesterday and he is the shortest price of the Aidan O’Brien runners. He is also the choice of Ryan Moore. However he will have to improve markedly on his reappearance in the Gallinule Stakes and he has not had the most obvious preparation. Still, money talks, and maybe the Coolmore “Lads” know more than we do. 6/10

HANS HOLBEIN: Was nothing more than workmanlike at Chester and all his winning has come on soft ground. Fast ground would be a worry and he looks to have it all to do. 6/10

EPICURIS: Criquette Head-Maarek’s colt is the only French-trained contender. The son of Rail Link was unbeaten in three starts last year, which culminated with victory in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud in November. He met defeat when going down by four lengths to Silverwave in a Group Three contest at Longchamp in April and refused to enter the stalls ahead of the Group Two Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud on May 5. He offers an added dimension to the race. 7/10

VERDICT: The advice is to wait until the day to be sure of ground conditions. The weather is due to warm up so the ground should ride good, or even on the fast side. I’m going to back ELM PARK each-way. I think he will take some pegging back especially if Andrea Atzeni kicks early in the straight. But the Gosden pair do look formidable opposition and I think the Dante form will stand up well.





2 thoughts on “2015 Epsom Derby: Elm Park to take some catching”

  1. Lynda hounsfield says:

    Great rundown on the horses Jason. I think Jack Hobbs looks the type! But we shall see it will be firmer by Saturday so may suit a lighter smaller horse?

  2. Graham Oliver says:

    Hi Jason,

    Federico Tesio, breeder of unbeaten champions, Nearco (sire of Norther Dancer) and Ribot, as well as that dual Arc’s sire Tenerani, is also famous for the following quote.

    “The Thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians, or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby. If you base your criteria on anything else, you will get something else, not the Thoroughbred”.

    So, here we are again, just a few day’s away from the most famous, and still the most important, horserace in the world.

    This year’s contenders appear well up too standard, although we will only know if the winner is a true champion towards the end of the season. There are probably seven or eight runners that have realistic claims to winning.

    For what it’s worth the following is my thoughts on a few of the runners.

    Golden Horn is in my opinion, a worthy favourite, and my selection to win the race. He looked superb in the Dante, showing an absolutely brilliant turn of foot to defeat his stable companion Jack Hobbs very easily. A lot has been written about a possible lack of stamina in the bottom half of his pedigree. This same argument was also used against Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Mill Reef, The Minstrel, Grundy, Roberto, et al. A year ago the same doubt’s were also being expressed about Australia. I do think Golden Horn will stay the trip, and I hope to see him win comfortably.

    The unbeaten Zawraq has obvious claims, but has been under a bit of a cloud the last few days. For me he is still a bit of an unknown quantity, and I do pass him over.

    The dogs have been barking about Giovanni Canaletto since his win last October and the volume has been turned up again this week. The booking Of Ryan Moore is not a disadvantage and the trainer has always liked him. Nevertheless he didn’t look a world beater on his reappearance, and may be better later in the season.

    Hans Holbein looked a resolute galloper in the Chester Vase and I think he may be the best of the O’Brien trio.

    Moheet has been my fancy for the Derby since he made his very impressive debut last year at Salisbury. I discount his run in the Guineas, as he had a terrible run, and was involved in a lot of bumping as he forced his way through. This horse is certain to get the trip, being by High Chaparral, and is available at 50-1. It is understandable that Frankie Dettori prefers Golden Horn.

    Although Elm Park was well beaten in the Dante, he wasn’t knocked about. I think he will run very well, possibly without winning.

    Of the others, I don’t think the French colt, Epicuris, is good enough, the same remark that I apply to Success Days, and Kilimanjaro.

    For some reason I’ve always liked Godolphin’s Best Of Times, possibly because his name is in the first sentence of one of my favourite books, A Tale Of Two Cities. Perhaps by a quarter to five on Saturday, his name will be changed to Worst Of Times! he is available at 66-1.Hopefully Golden Horn is a far better thing that I have tipped than that one. (Apologies to Charles Dickens).

    To sum up, I take Golden Horn to win, possibly from Moheet, Elm Park, and Hans Holbein.

    Finally, if any reader is brave enough to take a chance on any horse because of what I have written, please beware. I am one of the world’s worst tipsters, and you will probably be far better off taking notice of Jason.

    Many years ago, in my youth, an old timer once said to me “you couldn’t tip your sister out of bed”, after I had nominated yet another loser. That remark still applies today.


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