Racing round-up: Derby hopefuls fall by the wayside as Reel flops

The Derby is supposed to be one of the biggest prizes in flat racing. Why then is it, that none of the supposed protagonists seem to want to win it?

As the trials pass by one by one, many horses who were among the frontrunners for the Epsom showpiece have seen their credentials thoroughly found wanting.

Ol’ Man River’s flop in the 2000 Guineas last week started proceedings, his odds for the June 6 contest pushed out from 5/1 to 16/1 in the process.

But this weekend, while some dark horses may well have emerged, plenty more bubbles were burst.

First there was the unbeaten Christophermarlowe, highly thought of for the Derby especially for the reason that he had twice been successful on the cambers of Epsom, a factor that finds many horses out.

However John Gosden’s colt lacked spark at Lingfield, failing to find another gear in the Derby Trial at the Surrey track, eventually trailing in 3¼l behind winner Kilimanjaro.

The victor was shortened from 50/1 to 20/1, but will surely have to improve again, while Christophermarlowe was removed from Ladbrokes’ betting entirely, having originally been a 12/1 shot.

On to France then with the French 2000 Guineas, the Poule D’Essai Des Poulains, and the Coolmore outfit had another strong Derby fancy in the field in the shape of Highland Reel.

A winner of the Vintage Stakes at two, Aidan O’Brien’s colt was a 20/1 fancy for Epsom, and had shaped as if the step up in trip later in the season would be just the ticket for more improvement.

But his performance on Sunday cannot be blamed on the distance, with Ryan Moore’s mount finishing a well-beaten sixth at Longchamp.

The son of Galileo found himself as the next contender to take a walk in the betting, going from 8/1 out to 20/1.

His trainer may well have taken the race an impressive five times, but his challengers for this year’s renewal are falling by the wayside.

Highland Reel’s disappointment followed the lacklustre opening run of John F Kennedy, Sir Isaac Newton being turned over at odds of 1/6 at Chester, and the death of 16/1 chance Jamaica.

While contenders from Ballydoyle appear to be lacking, a trio of horses have found their odds shortening, despite being absent from the racecourse.

Jack Hobbs (4/1 from 10/1), Zawraq (5/1 from 8/1) and Elm Park (8/1 from 14/1) have all seen their prices tumble since their last outing on the back of disappointments elsewhere.

Unless some of the flops bounce back, it could well be between those three when they line up on the Downs in four weeks time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.