Aidan O’Brien would be sitting pretty at any poker table in the world with the hand he’s got in the 2019 Epsom Derby. The Irish trainer has three of the top four in the betting as he bids for a seventh Derby win.
Can Hughie Morrison and Telecaster stop the Irish powerhouse hoovering up his third Classic of the season? We’ve previewed one of the nation’s most historic races, which begins at 4:30pm live on ITV this Saturday.
Would it even be a Classic if Ballydoyle didn’t dominate the field? The Irish yard took the not-so-difficult decision to supplement impressive Chester Vase winner Sir Dragonet – and it could very well pay off.
The Camelot colt has come from nowhere to top the market, although he must now prove it at the top level on what looks set to be faster ground. He’s open to further progress but it could pay to look for more experience.
Broome could have a better chance. The colt has trained on this term and looks to have the stamina to mount a serious bid over the extended 1m 4f trip. Victories in the Ballysax and Derrinstown bolster his chances.
Don’t rule out Telecaster either. Morrison’s charge needs to stay an extra 2f but it’s impossible to ignore his victory over Too Darn Hot in the Dante. That was a hard race, though, and it may have taken a lot out of him.
A graveyard draw in stall two – a position from which no Derby winner has ever emerged – does not help his cause.
Anthony Van Dyck has had a slightly longer prep time since his comfortable win in a below-par Derby Trial at Lingfield. He’s bred to stay the trip but it remains to be seen whether he can do it at this level as a three-year-old.
Middle of the pack
An intriguing bunch of middle of the road contenders are led by Bangkok. Andrew Balding’s fancy has won twice this season, including when ahead of Telecaster on reappearance at Doncaster in March.
The latter has obviously franked that form, while Bangkok also kicked on to win the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown from Technician. Connections have high hopes for him but further improvement is required.
Similar can be said of Japan, who came home fourth in the Dante after an interrupted preparation. He should go better in this with the step up in trip certain to suit. The worry is that others have better form in the book.
Madhmoon falls into that bracket after his staying-on-fourth in the 2000 Guineas. He shaped like an extra 4f would be of help, although he’ll need to travel well throughout to be in with a chance at the finish.
With 16/1 and 20/1 winners in each of the last two years, there’s every reason to suggest something at a big price could cause a shock.
That leads us to Circus Maximus. His form behind subsequent Guineas winners Magna Grecia and Phoenix Of Spain in the Vertem Futurity and French Guineas winner Persian King in the Autumn Stakes is hard to knock.
And with O’Brien fourth and fifth strings usually outrunning their odds in this type of events, providing he can stay on, the Galileo colt is our outside tip at a nice price. Frankie Dettori rides.
Norway, Sovereign and Humanitarian are all unlikely to challenge. But 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Line Of Duty could sneak a place if he can provide answers to questions about a recent run in the Dante.
Hiroshima is the outsider of the field for John Ryan at over 200/1.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication