Former Talksport man Charlie McCann thinks Carlton House has still got what it takes to win the Epsom Derby for the Queen.
Carlton House heads a field of 13 declared for the 2011 Investec Derby despite an injury scare which earlier in the week looked like preventing the Queen’s favourite take his chance in, arguably, the most prestigious flat race in the world.
Back in 1953 Coronation year the Queen’s colours were carried into second place when Aureole was beaten 4l by Pinza in one of the most famous renewals of the great race. At the time 26-time Champion jockey Sir Gordon Richards was one of the sporting icons of his generation; recently knighted his victory aboard Pinza was his 28th ride in the race and it is reported at the time that, despite her reverse, Her Majesty was delighted that Richards had eventually broken his Derby hoodoo.
Fifty-eight years later and the Queen is still waiting to win the premier English classic, but she will never have a better opportunity than with Carlton House.. or so we thought! The lightly-raced colt is now a best-priced 9/4 with because of the injury and his participation will not be confirmed until Thursday evening at the very earliest as trainer Sir Michael Stoute monitors the colt’s near-fore joint.
Carlton House shot to Derby favouritism on the back of his impressive victory in the Dante Stakes at York a race that has been the premier trial for Epsom in recent years with Motivator (2005) and Authorised (2007) winning both races and Workforce finishing runner up last year before his record-breaking success in 2010.
I would be staggered if Carlton House is not fit enough to do himself justice if he makes the starting line up but that is a big if. The horse’s well-being will come first and is of course paramount. If he gets the green light will the 9/4 disappear or will the injury doubts mean that only the most ardent royalist supports the colt?
He remains the one to beat in my opinion although the leading French hope Pour Moi has been extremely well supported in recent days. The French have not won the Derby since Empery back in 1976 but master trainer Andre Fabre is making bullish noises about his charge and he has been the best backed horse (11/2 in to 10/3) in the last week.
Aidan O’Brien believes Recital has the class but is concerned about the horse’s stamina whereas Seville who finished runner up to Carlton House at York will stay all day but is he good enough? Remember no horse beaten in the Dante had ever won the Derby before last year when Workforce bucked that trend. Can lightning strike twice?
Chester winner Treasure Beach another O’Brien inmate would be my idea of the best outsider and he could easily sneak into the frame. He will enjoy the forecast good to firm ground, has already won over the trip and will be staying on when others have cried enough.
Investec Derby: prices from ew ¼ 1, 2, and 3:
Carlton House 9/4
Pour Moi 10/3
Native Khan 10/1
Ocean War 14/1
Masked Marvel 25/1
Memphis Tennessee 25/1
Treasure Beach 28/1
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