HISTORY IN THE MAKING ON A ROYAL DAY AT EPSOM: Four days after her coronation in 1953, The Queen saw her colt, Aureole, beaten into second in the Derby by Sir Gordon Richards. Now racing’s modern knight, Sir Michael Stoute, can raise the royal flag over Epsom for the first time since the king’s Minoru beat Bayardo in 1909.
HERE COMES THE JUDGE AND IT’S CARLTON HOUSE: As if you didn’t know, the Queen’s horse is Carlton House, subject of an injury scare in a week of Derby drama, which has had a High Court judge deciding who should ride the Irish favourite, Recital. Today your tipping judge, Daqman, has no hesitation. It’s Carlton House. Banker.
‘DASH’ DERBY WARM-UP AT 20.0 BETDAQ VALUE: Jackpot-king Daqman tilts at the layers with 20.0 and 19.5 Betdaq-value bets in the 40mph Epsom Dash, a hot Derby prelude over the fast five furlongs.
50-1 SHOT PRIMED FOR OPENING SHOCK: And he has a fearless 52.0 start to Derby day with a golden shot in the opening handicap.
IT’S A LAY DOWN SAYS DAQMAN: With three lays in a row, and a record of ‘stopping’ hot favourites at the big meetings, Daqman lays into another one this afternoon.
We are not amused. I’m still calling House though there have been times when I thought his number was up. It’s been a week for kicking the corgis but I expect to see cricket-loving Sir Michael Stoute hit his Derby six this afternoon, 30 years on from Shergar.
Carlton House, following Shahrastani, Kris Kin, North Light and Worforce, would equal the Derby record of Stoutie’s great idol, Vincent O’Brien, who deserved the same racing knighthood as the perpetuator of the Northern Dancer breed upon which so many great modern horses are founded.
Injury scares are the norm in National Hunt racing, rarer on the Flat, but the occasional knobbly knees and minor cuts are part and parcel of preparing a horse for any race. The only thing that can stop Carlton House now is a dark horse, possibly discounted from the trials, like the 20-1 winner of the Oaks yesterday.
I was second and third in that Oaks (if Dettori hadn’t dropped his hands) but, on a hot summer’s day, we failed to catch a filly called Dancing Rain, winner only of her maiden. As I say, we are not amused.
1.40 Epsom: Another damper here, Rain Mac, could upset my outsider, Great Shot, whose trainer, Sylvester Kirk, sprang a 16-1 surprise two years ago. For one that goes with the pace, he is claimed off to achieve a featherweight, with a switchback win (at Lingfield) to his name and nicely drawn in stall 5.
Only one winner of this has come from the three highest stalls, so the 52.0 offers on Betdaq look immense, based on a probability assessment of the seven remaining horses.
Boogie Shoes obviously has a great chance but has to step up two grades from a class-4 Salisbury success and favourites have a modest record in this race (two from 10).
Stall 1 won four times in nine years, including a spell of three out of four, showing the importance of a rails trap, and King Edward V11 entry Tanfeeth, though only a maiden winner, looked a class act when he won at Sandown and 8.8 this morning is tasty and better than true odds in my supposed seven-horse field.
Malthouse is a typical Mark Johnston and should make them all go but 9st 7lb looks a real steadier for a front-runner and the William Haggas’ Oaks winning stable may be more threatening with Trojan Nights.
2.10 Epsom: This time only one outsider has won in the decade. Seven horses of the eight declared today won last time out, Fulbright and He’s So Cool suggesting they are front-runners.
So what you need is something that can quicken off a fast pace. Step forward Norse Gold, impressive when he quickened up at Kempton yet with plenty of stamina in his pedigree. Nicely priced at around 4-1 or 5-1 for an eight-runner race, with almost 100% return on the place part of an each-way bet to cover your win stake.
2.40 Epsom (Diomed Stakes): Older horses (aged six to eight) have won the last five Diomeds. Six out of the last eight had already won at Epsom but I couldn’t back ‘Mac’, could you? Mac Love is 35.0 this morning.
Saeed Bin Suroor is double handed with Rio De La Plata and Vesuve, trying to halt a run of 10 consecutive losers in this race but, though Frankie Dettori had me taking a flying leap off my sofa yesterday, pace is one thing he is good at.
There is no front-runner in this and, endowed with stamina – he’s won on the soft over this trip, going right away – Rio De La Plata (5.3 as I write) is an ideal type, as he showed at York and Longchamp last season, to lie up until the turn, and then kick on and play catch-me.
His Group-1 penalty doesn’t help but Fanunalter, St Moritz and Vesuve are only Listed level in England and Awzaan hasn’t won beyond 6f, which leaves the favourite – and my saver – Premio Loco to beat.
3.15 Epsom (Dash): This is a pinstickers’ race but the stats might help: a double-figure draw has won six of the last eight, and there’s been only one winner below stall 8 in the last decade.
Horses under the age of six have a very poor record and you need class (1 or 2 handicapper) and phenomenal speed; this is a 40 mph race.
Combine the stats and you get the David Nicholls’ trio Strike Up The Band (20.0), blinkered for the first time, Indian Trail (19.5) – both previous winners – and Fathom Five (8.8) from stalls 11, 16 and 17 respectively.
I’ll lay the favourite, Captain Dunne, off top weight and from a single-figure draw, and take the two big-odds Nicholls’ hopes, with the shorter one as the saver.
4.00 Epsom (THE DERBY): Pat Smullen now rides Derrinstown trial winner, Recital, who in my opinion needs some cut in the ground, his head held high and hanging, despite the slow pace at Leopardstown.
The French pair, Pour Moi and Vadamar, are soft-ground winners and that’s the problem of form assessment for this year’s race: will they act on the sound surface and undulations of Epsom?
Andre Fabre has had nine consecutive losers of our Derby, so I won’t be betting that Pour Moi will and his defeat of the odds-on Vadamar means excuses have to be made for the Aga Khan’s runner. I’ve always thought that the Aga had a better horse in tomorrow’s likely French Derby favourite, Baraan.
Significantly, Pour Moi has already been well beaten by Baraaan in the Prix De La Force on good ground, and the key to unlocking the Derby in recent years has been the Dante Stakes.
Jimmy Fortune tried to steal it on Pisco Sour three weeks ago but Seville came to have his measure on the rail, only to run out of gas as Carlton House surged through the gap between them, deliberately having an educational ride from Ryan Moore for a colt raced only twice before.
Nine of the last 10 winners have come from stalls between 3 and 10 but Carlton House’s 13 stall could be lucky in that he clearly settles well and quickens when asked, the mark of a great horse. Moore will have ridden the race in his head every night this week, I imagine.
Carlton House is by a World Cup winner out of a mare by the brave Bustino, who went down fighting to Grundy in the King George, one of the most famous duels in racing history.
Masked Marvel improved in the Cocked Hat to turn the tables on Auld Burns; Treasure Beach disposed of the Chester Vase field; Native Khan, though winning a moderate Craven Stakes, will now go down in history in the controversy over Kieren Fallon.
I choose Ocean War as potentially the surprise packet: the grey has improved at the right time and comes out of the Newmarket Stakes, a race that has produced placed horses at Epsom like Presenting, Beat All and Beat Hollow. He’s 17.0 on Betdaq this morning.
WIN-30 JACKPOT: 3.8pts win TANFEETH and 0.5pts win and place GREAT SHOT (1.40 Epsom)
BET 5pts win and place NORSE GOLD (2.10 Epsom)
BET 4.6pts win RIO DE LA PLATA and 2.4pts win (saver) PREMIO LOCO (2.40 Epsom)
LAY to win 10pts CAPTAIN DUNNE, plus WIN-30 JACKPOTS: 1.5pts win and place on each STRIKE UP THE BAND and INDIAN TRAIL, and 0.8pts win (saver) FATHOM FIVE (3.15 Epsom)
BANKER 13pts win CARLTON HOUSE (7pts already invested) and BEST OUTSIDER: 1.1pts win and place OCEAN WAR (4.00 Epsom)