SUNDAY was a good day for Godolphin. They suddenly have two horses to go to war with in next month’s Epsom Derby, notably MOONLIGHT MAGIC, who won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown. It was a likeable performance from the son of Cape Cross, although he admittedly got the run of the race after tracking his pacemaker Saafarr.
Moonlight Magic got bogged down in the heavy ground in the Ballysax Stakes last time out but appreciated the quicker surface here. Whether he stays the extra 2f at Epsom is debatable but he appears an agile horse and a strong traveller, so he should handle the contours of the Downs. Bookmaker reaction was to trim his odds for Epsom (BetVictor cut him to 12-1 from 25-1 while Ladbrokes go 10s from 25s).
He beat the Aidan O’Brien trio, Shogun, Idaho and Beacon Rock. IDAHO had started favourite but was ultimately a bit disappointing as he has been something of a talking horse. Admittedly, he did get forced a bit wide into the straight, and he did finish the race off really well, suggesting that 1m 4f would be ideal. But if he is going to win the Derby then you would have wanted him to win this.
He is a big, long-striding horse and I’m not convinced Epsom will be his bag. On the flip side, Seamie Heffernan didn’t throw the kitchen sink at him and the indelible impression is that there is much more to come. Being by Galileo, you would expect him to stay further and his racing style clearly gives that impression. Despite defeat, Ladbrokes trimmed him to 12-1 from 14s.
SHOGUN also stayed on well under Ryan Moore and looks in need of further. He was also cut in the Epsom Derby betting (from 50s to 25-1 by Ladbrokes) but I fear he is not near the top of the Aidan O’Brien pecking order.
Godolphin’s other derby hopeful is Andre Fabre’s CLOTH OF STARS, who won the Greffulhe Group 2 Stakes at Saint Cloud and has been introduced into the Epsom betting at around 25-1. The son of Sea the Stars had finished behind Robin Of Navan twice last year and looked set for second again when Tony Piccone kicked Harry Dunlop’s charge into the lead. But Cloth of Stars quickened up smartly to win going away.