The Major will publish the Saturday Service seperately but have decided to get my Derby thoughts out at 8am so we can catch the early worm.
Before the race analysis, a word of praise for Channel 4. The BBC have the rights to the Derby and if the Major is to be blunt, it galls me.
Channel 4 provide decent racing coverage every weekend of the year, they provide a morning show and tailor the coverage to satisfy new fans and seasoned followers, their presenters don’t just match up, they smash their BBC counterparts. Just consider the line ups. Clare Balding is honest but poor. Rishi, the Major cannot take and as for the clowns they have near the betting rings, do not get me started.
I am no massive fan of John McC who hiumself, is the clown of Channel 4 but he has more racing in his little finger than Rishi. The rest of the Channel 4 team are utter class. Cattermole, Plunkett, the marvellous Tanya. If the BBC cannot be bothered to even televise the Arc without putting it behind a red button, I would rather see them drop racing coverage and hand it over to Channel 4 who know what they are doing with it and evidently care more.
The Derby at Epsom
Rant over, the 2011 Investec Derby is a fascinating renewal.
The interest of the Queen who may win her fist Derby with Carlton House adds a spice to the race that will entice the public. The quality of the race will be lost on many who will be drawn by the regal story which has a touch of romance about it.
The Queen would never have owned Carlton House if it were not for Highland Glen and her Majesty’s impeccable integrity. A wonderful novella which in the Majors mind will remain his memory of her Majesty when her time comes.
Sheikh Mohammed is one of racings most influential mega-owners, despite his influence in racing which extends across the globe, has never had a Derby winner, this is astonishing.
The good Sheikh had eyes on Highland Glen and made a very fair cash offer for the horse in the summer of 2009. The Queen, who has such a racing passion (she insists on knowing each intimate detail of all of her string and breeding operation) knew Highland Glen was temperamental and so sent the horse to the good Sheikh but refused the fee, you can set your watch by that, say what you like but she is a class act.
For those that believe in Karma, Sheikh Mohammed responded, the same autumn, by sending over four yearlings from his own breeding operation. The most handsome looking was named by the Queens racing operation as Carlton House after the old building which stood on The Mall.
The Queens honesty gives the Major a tremendous sense of pride. It also garners a deep seated sense of unease, for when she is gone, where is the nations moral heart? Leave that though… Consider the Sheikh though too, what a gentlemen.
The Major decrees this was good cricket all round.
The Queen has such composure that should Carlton House win, I cannot imagine anything other than dignity in the face of euphoria. C’mon Ma’am, a little wink at the camera costs nothing!
Do we need more drama? Well perhaps you could throw in the former disgraced champion jockey having to win an appeal to avoid being legally barred from taking his intended Ballydoyle ride because the Turkish owner of Native Khan feels aggrieved that Fallon abandoned the ride! We learn from the High Court of Kieran Fallons fate this morning at 9am, sensational drama. So this years Derby is both a Royal affair and a court room drama – Who will win?
Carlton House suffered a setback this week which threatened participation. At one point, he was trading 9/2 on Betfair but those prices have dried up and 11/5 is the current order.
The setback will be a concern to those who hold tickets on Carlton House. Cast your mind back and the Major was not for Carlton House when he appeared in the Dante – I was wrong but while he won well enough, I wonder of the fitness of the O’Brien runners has led to a general mis-shapen view of the form itself.
Dante form is not a problem but across the board it is evident that the O’Brien team came out of the blocks slowly this season. There are too many examples of this, including last nights racing at the Curragh which saw previously dismissed prospects from Ballydoyle suddenly coming on massively for their second run. How trustworthy was Carlton House’s Dante win against Seville?
There is nothing wrong with Seville particularly; after two modest enough 2yo wins, he went down to Cassemento, a leading Godolphin two year old when unfancied. He ran wide but gave good chase without troubling. Over a mile, on breeding it was not that surprising. This year he went down by a short distance to Carlton House when Ballydoyles string were all in desperate need of a run.
If I felt Seville were the real Ballydoyle first string I would back at 7/1. The Major has other thoughts. I want to abandon the Dante form. I never thought Seville was the Derby hope from the O’Brien team, they normally do not send their best to the Dante, the Derristown is where they send their number one colt and that puts Recital right in the frame.
Native Khan is tough and short of top class. I think he will come short even if he gets his preferred rattling surface. It is interesting though that this is Murtaghs stead. Having won the Oaks on a long shot, perhaps it is foolish to let this one go…. Particularly as with more sun on the earth, it is not inconceivable that firm appears in the going. Could Kierans day get worse, after hearing the courts judgement in the morning, could he then watch Native Khan romp in? Beating Libranno by 2l is probably going to be the pinnacle of this ones career. Not for the Major.
Pour Moi is utterly blue blood bred. The French form looks good but the travel and the brilliant teenage jockey both dissuade the Major. They have bought him over from France early to acclimatise to Epsoms rolling track, a serious contender but not for the Major.
This leaves Recital. The only question for the Major is, will he fire at Epsom given he has shown a few quirks in the past. I offered Recital up to a friend on debut this year. What got him beat, in my view was not form but was the now convincing early poor season Ballydoyle were embroiled in. As a derby horse you have to question reliability but his class has been more than hinted at in his Jekyll and Hyde history. O’Brien knows how to sort these sorts out. If Fallon is ruled out, perhaps Joseph O’Brien the winning Irish classic jockey will take over, mere speculation.
Dalakhani seems to breed decent sorts but I would be surprised if he sired a derby type. This puts a line through Vadamar who needs softer ground and Ocean War, although the latter will like it the more the moisture comes out of the ground and is a decent e/w shout at nearing 20/1.
Overall. Recital 9/2 and Carlton House 5/2.
I think Recital was sent on O’Briens premier route to the derby. He may have mis-fired but Carlton has the measure of Seville and O’Brien was trying to put his top jockey Fallon on Recital. If Fallon is chucked off in the morning which seems unlikely, there are plenty of decent replacements and Recital will not know of the drama! If at 9am, Fallon is stood down, I understand Smullen to be the man who picks up the rather attractive ride and that is decent in the Majors view.
9/2. Should be 3/1 for the Major…. Get stuck in, yet good luck Ma’am. Oh and if you agree, use the Racing Post app to place the bet with Hills. They offer a full refund if Carlton House goes on to win….. value.