Wings Of Desire flies into Epsom Derby frame

THEY say fortune favours the brave. So the owners of Minding, So Mi Dar and Galileo Gold may have to “grow a pair” in the next fortnight if they are to achieve the ultimate glory. They have been, to these eyes at least, the three outstanding performers in the Epsom trials. Galileo Gold won the 2000 Guineas with authority while connections of flying fillies Minding and So Mi Dar have to decide whether to take on the boys.

They are all available “with a run” in the Epsom Derby market and let’s hope at least one of the owners takes a punt. They might be persuaded by the fact that the Dante failed to throw up an outstanding candidate in the style of Golden Horn in 2015. I was hoping the fog around the Derby picture would clear away after York but how wrong I was.

Wings Of Desire, a horse who had come third in a Newmarket maiden a few weeks ago, stayed on best to narrowly beat the more experienced Deauville. Was it a Derby-winning performance? In most years I would say a definite no, but the Classic is so wide open this year that in the absence of the three horses mentioned above, it could go the way of a rapidly improving three-year-old such as the son of Pivotal.

In addition, the vibes from John Gosden were positive after the race and there seems no doubt that Wings Of Desire will be supplemented for Epsom. Ironically Gosden had taken him out of the Derby in early March as he wanted to train him for the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, which was won by his brother Eagle Top. But he described his recent progress as “freakish” and appeared more certain that he would be supplemented for Epsom than he was about Golden Horn 12 months ago.

The other positive was the way Wings of desire appeared to outstay his rivals. He won his maiden over 12f on the all weather at Wolverhampton so stamina is not an issue. But I’m not convinced this was a vintage Dante. Deauville ran a solid race, as did Foundation. The latter will go for the French Derby after William Buick said he was definitely a 1m 2f horse. But I’ve never seen Deauville (now 12/1 for Epsom) or Foundation as good enough to win a Derby. Bookies were impressed with Wings of Desire though and cut him to 4/1 from 25s in the ante-post Epsom Derby betting.

Midterm was disappointing. He didn’t travel with the same ease as we saw at Sandown. Maybe the ground was too quick but, whatever the issue, I doubt we’ll see him at Epsom.

Aidan O’Brien will have to shuffle his pack over the next few weeks and make a decision on Minding. So Mi Dar remains likely to head for the Oaks, especially now Gosden has a strong Derby contender. But it’s difficult to assess which trial was the strongest. My gut tells me that US Army Ranger might be Aidan O’Brien’s best colt and the one with the most scope. But hopefully those lucky owners of Minding, So Mi Dar and Galileo Gold will take a leap of faith and go for the big one. The race is there for the taking.

One thought on “Wings Of Desire flies into Epsom Derby frame”

  1. Graham Oliver says:

    A pretty good summing up of the Derby situation Jason.

    I agree with your assessment of US Army Ranger. Aidan O’Brien described him as “babyish” after the Chester Vase. He ran very green on what is a difficult track and there looks to be bags of improvement in him. Hopefully he will show this at Epsom, provided he acts on the course. It will of course still only be his third race. The Curragh looks made for him, with it’s wide open spaces.

    He reminds me a lot of the 1993 Derby winner Commander-In-Chief, who likewise never ran as a two year old. In his final Derby prep at York, he scrambled home in a ‘photo from Needle Gun, who in time became a really good horse, but was no world beater.

    Deauville may be the front runner for O’Brien at Epsom. Another likely colt could be The Gurkha, who has been backed over the last few days, and runs in the French Guineas on Sunday. Last time out he won his maiden by nine lengths.

    I might well be wrong, but good horse that Wings Of Desire appears to be, he does not appeal to this writer as a Derby winner. The stable though, as you rightly point out, do have a lot of confidence in him, and Dettori did prefer him to his stablemate Foundation in the Dante. I dismiss Midterm completely, although Lord Grimthorpe did say today that it’s a possibility that he might still line up at Epsom.

    Last October, when I wrote a piece on this blog about my long term Derby fancies, I did mention that my complete outsider to look out for was Ullysses, a Galileo colt, trained by Sir Michael Stoute. This colt won at York today be eight lenghths. He has come down in the betting from a possible 50-1 yesterday to as short as 14-1 this afternoon. Although I have neither seen today’s race, nor read anything about the manner of his victory (he was 4-11 in a weak field)I do like him. I know not what has become of my other winter fancy colt, Marcel, since his ignominious last place in the Two Thousand Guineas.

    This brings us to the fillies, So Mi Dar and Minding. For the first time that I can ever remember (since 1965) the Derby looks like it will be easier to win than the Oaks. If Minding runs in the Derby, I will not look at anything else. For me she is far and away the best three year old in Europe. I fully expect her to run in the Derby, and unless something unforeseeable happens, she is my selection. US Army Ranger, Ulysses, and So Mi Dar (if she runs) may fight it out for the places.

    In the Oaks I expect Ballydoyle to win. In a normal fillies year her brilliant late run in the One Thousand Guineas to take second place off her stable companion Alice Springs (runs Sunday in French Guineas) would have made her an automatic hot Oaks favourite. Even with So Mi Dar, I expect her to win. A win and place investment might be more prudent.

    Well, that’s it. I have stood on the parapet, and am waiting to be shot at, three weeks before the two races.

    You may well laugh, and I must admit I am having a little chuckle to myself.


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