Former Talksport man Charlie McCann provides a pinstickers guide ahead of Saturday’s 2016 Investec Derby at Epsom Downs.
A maximum of eighteen colts will go to post for the world’s premier classic the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday and BetVictor have run their eye over what looks like being one of the most open-looking races in living memory.
1. Across The Stars
Jockey Kieren Fallon has a 100% record when riding for Sir Michael Stoute in the Derby and has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t swop his mount for any other horse in the race. A winner of only one of his four career starts he was, arguably, unlucky at Lingfield in his prep run but he will have to improve significantly to give Fallon a fourth win in the race.
Looked a thorough stayer when winning the listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood last month but might lack the class of a Derby winner; stepping up in trip and soft ground could see him in an even better light and he could easily develop into a Leger horse later in the season.
3. Beacon Rock
Landed the odds when making all at the Curragh last time on soft ground and another who looks more of a grinder rather than a potential Derby winner although he is guaranteed to stay; one of seven of the 18 trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Trainer Karl Burke confirmed his outsider would take his chance on Tuesday although he has quite a bit to find with many of the principles as his odds suggest.
Another of O’Brien’s magnificent seven and last seen finishing fourth in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh; not guaranteed that this step up in trip will suit on breeding and others preferred.
6. Cloth Of Stars
Trainer Andre Fabre saddled the Derby winner with Pour Moi back in 2011 and he wouldn’t be bringing the colt over from France if he didn’t think he had every chance; a Group 2 winner at Saint-Cloud last time he was well on top at the end, will appreciate the step up in trip and a leading player.
Only beaten a neck by Wings Of Desire in the Dante at York on his reappearance and that was certainly an improvement on his juvenile form when he showed himself to be just shy of the best. No surprise if he were to run well but hard to see him strike gold.
I was quite taken by his win in the Ballysax Stakes last time and, whilst his two wins have come on soft ground, there is no reason why he won’t be as equally effective on a faster surface; owned by His Highness The Aga Khan whose colours were last seen in the winner’s enclosure with Sinndar in 2000 and, more famously, with the widest margin winner of all time the mighty Shergar back in 1981.
9. Humphrey Bogart
One of four supplementary entries for the race (others Red Verdon, Wings Of Desire and Cloth Of Stars) with connections stumping up £75,000 after his win in the Lingfield Derby Trial. That was only his second win from eight career starts, however, and I fear his sporting owners have done their money.
Connections are mulling over a trip to Chantilly and the French Derby for this O’Brien inmate who finished third to Moonlight Magic in the Derrinstown last time. A long striding colt there are doubts about his ability to handle the Epsom undulations, but if he took his chance he would be no forlorn hope.
Runner up to Galileo Gold in the Guineas but another whose breeding suggests he might struggle to get home over the additional half-mile; that said that form is as good as anything in the field and his young trainer is optimistic her will get the trip.
12. Moonlight Magic
Trainer Jim Bolger saddled the winner with New Approach back in 2008 and his inmate has won three of his four starts including the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown last time; needs to improve again to land the Derby but trainer making optimistic noise and each way claims.
13. Port Douglas
Caught close home by stablemate US Army Ranger at Chester last time when giving his stablemate 4lbs; a thorough stayer who is likely to race prominently and might take some catching inside the final couple of furlongs.
14. Red Verdon
Has improved out of all recognition in recent starts but was beaten off a mark of 76 back in April and suggestion he has been well-placed and possibly flattered to win two uncompetitive handicaps; backed from 33s into 20/1 when he was supplemented for the race but others preferred.
Also entered in the French Derby on Sunday for Aidan O’Brien but brother to the Oaks winner Qualify and the type who might improve dramatically stepped up to 12f for the first time.
In many ways the most fascinating horse in the field and reported to be catching pigeons on the Newmarket gallops; created a very favourable impression when winning a Newbury maiden last month and trained by Sir Michael Stoute who last saddled the winner of the great race with Workforce back in 2010. This is a big step up in class but in a wide-open contest he must have a leading chance.
17. US Army Ranger
The only unbeaten colt in the race having won a Curragh maiden and the Chester Vase this term having not seen the track as a juvenile. He didn’t impress everyone at Chester last time but he has long been considered the number one contender at Ballydoyle who are looking for a fourth win in the race in the last five years.
18. Wings Of Desire
Has a similar profile to US Army Ranger in that he didn’t see the track as a 2-y-old but won a Wolverhampton maiden before landing the Dante, giving every impression he would improve again when tackling Saturday’s 12f trip; the Gosden/Dettori combination won the race 12 months ago with Golden Horn and this inmate is currently vying for favouritism.