Matt Brocklebank has two big priced selections as our Antepost Angle expert turns his attention to the Investec Derby in a little under six weeks' time.
Recommended bets: Investec Derby
The timing looks right for a couple of bets in the Investec Derby, with Churchill top of the market at no bigger than 13/2 and all the key trials still to come over the next six weeks.
Cracksman gets to play his hand first in Wednesday’s Epsom contest over 10 furlongs of the Derby course, where he faces stablemate Tartini and Youmkin.
The latter duo both look promising three-year-olds with their respective Nottingham maidens (on the same day last October) working out well, although the well-regarded Frankel colt Cracksman is expected to live up his billing.
Should he deliver, he could reasonably halve in price for the June 3 Classic, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the most sensible wager as there must be some doubt over his suitability for the Derby trip given he’s out of a Pivotal mare. A mile and a quarter may just be about as far as he wants to go at this stage.
Opposing the antepost favourite on stamina grounds alone is a dangerous business given he’s by the incomparable Galileo, but Churchill's dam was all speed too and he’s certainly not a cast-iron certainty to improve for middle distances at three.
He was by far the best two-year-old on the track in 2016 and the manner in which he took Group One glory at the Curragh and Newmarket towards the end of the season marked him down as a horse still capable of progressing to superstardom.
He tended to just do enough in his races and as such probably wasn’t taking a great deal out of himself, during what was undeniably a busy campaign. He was a huge, imposing juvenile and could be something very special if he’s grown again during the winter, but we’re none the wiser really as to his well-being in spite of one or two positive bulletins, and several of his bigger-priced rivals have already shown how much they have progressed this spring.
Craven winner Eminent is the obvious one and his trainer Martyn Meade is rightly quite excited about what may unfold over the coming months.
Another son of Frankel, he was very strong at the line at Newmarket and his dam’s half-sister Diamondsandrubies was a Group One winner over 10 furlongs and finished fourth in the Oaks a couple of years ago.
Greenham Stakes scorer Barney Roy is well worth a mention, too, as he looked a quality middle-distance prospect when scoring over a mile in a Haydock maiden in the autumn, and was classy enough to pick up Dream Castle to win going away over seven furlongs at Newbury on Saturday. That was a highly encouraging return to action for the son of Excelebration.
He’s one of several fascinating potential runners for the Godolphin operation this year and although Sheikh Mohammed has technically celebrated Derby success twice in the past courtesy of Lammtarra and New Approach, neither horse carried the famous royal blue silks to victory.
The aforementioned Youmkain or Benbatl could yet stake a claim, but the big Derby eyecatcher from the Craven Meeting was TAMLEEK, and he’s worth an interest at the general 33/1 on offer.
Two days after Churchill landed the Dewhurst, Saeed bin Suroor’s Tamleek was finishing third in a soft ground mile maiden at Yarmouth, a race which has produced no future winners from nine attempts.
That’s hardly form that inspires confidence ahead of a Classic campaign, but he did move like the best horse in the race under Ryan Moore until the two-furlong marker before staying on at the one pace, and it later transpired that the son of Hard Spun suffered a burst blood vessel.
He was sensibly put away following that potentially unsettling introduction and returned looking a completely different animal at headquarters last week, where he was sent off the 11/4 favourite under Jim Crowley despite sporting the fourth-choice silks.
He tanked his way through the 10-furlong maiden, obviously enjoying the sound surface, and ultimately ran right away from his rivals after becoming slightly unbalanced in the Dip which resulted in him drifting over to the stands’ side.
It possibly wasn’t the strongest Newmarket maiden that’s ever been run, but the second, an expensive and well-bred Charlie Appleby representative, could be more than useful and the fourth, namely John Gosden’s Pealer, got within a couple of lengths of recent Kempton winner Monarchs Glen last term, so there is a bit of substance to work with.
Tamleek will clearly need to take another significant step in the right direction on his next start, which will most likely be the Lingfield Derby Trial or the Dante at York, but he couldn’t have made a brighter start to the year and everything about his win indicated he's a horse to be reckoned with going forward.
Chester has become a more significant trialling ground in recent years, primarily down to Aidan O’Brien sending at least one of his intended Derby runners for the Vase.
Ruler Of The World did the Vase-Derby double for Ballydoyle in 2013 and US Army Ranger came close 12 months ago when runner-up to Harzand in the big one so whatever the stable runs in a couple of weeks has to be taken seriously.
There are a whole host of names to conjure with but Cliffs Of Moher’s five and a half-length maiden win looks pretty stunning based on the exploits of the second, stablemate Orderofthegarter, while Sir John Lavery is another with some momentum behind in the market.
The latter, whose dam is closely related to Hawk Wing, has a fine pedigree but he’s yet to race on a left-handed track and his wide-margin Gowran triumph came on very testing ground.
Capri, Yucatan and Venice Beach add further strength in depth but one man who looks up to taking on the Ballydoyle battalions in the three-year-old department this season is French genius Andre Fabre.
He saddled Pour Moi to a memorable Derby success in 2011 and has already tested the water with Akihiro and Franz Schubert in trials on home soil.
They both finished placed after eyecatching efforts and could improve bundles for the outing, but it’s WALDGEIST who appeals most and he has a lot going for him.
He disappointed on his second start in a Chantilly Group Three after winning there on his debut but set the record straight with victory in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud at the end of October, staying on strongly to see off Best Solution and Capri.
That performance on soft ground screamed of a very strong stayer in the making and that shouldn’t come as a surprise as the son of Galileo is out of a half-sister to St Leger winner Masked Marvel and Listed scorer Waldnah, whose dam is a half-sister to German Derby winner Waldpark.
The fact Waldgeist was able to score at the highest level as a two-year-old bodes extremely well for this season as his family have tended to improve at three so he could be dangerous if given his chance at Epsom, especially if there is any rain around.
His maiden win came on good ground so he’s clearly not dependent on ease underfoot and, whether he takes in a prep run or just has a spin on the track at Epsom's Breakfast with the Stars on May 23, he rates a very classy option to have on side at 20/1.
Posted at 1135 on 25/04/17.