Horse Racing Tavern has teamed up with Doncaster Racecourse to offer three lucky winners a pair of grandstand tickets for their Derby Day meeting on Saturday 1st June!
They don’t come much bigger than the Epsom Derby. Flat racing’s Blue Riband event is second to only the Grand National in capturing the attentions of the general public.
Last year saw the Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot sear to victory before attempting an history-making third leg of the British Triple Crown in the Ladbrokes St Leger, right here at Doncaster.
The Jim Bolger-trained 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach bids to emulate his famous sire New Approach and record victory on the Downs, but you can be sure the Ballydoyle battalions will be gearing up to retain their crown in the prestigious race.
Derby Day is the event all horse racing fans cannot miss so go to Doncaster for seven races on Town Moor PLUS all the action from Epsom will be shown LIVE on the big screen. For more information or to buy tickets, visit Doncaster Racecourse website at www.doncaster-racecourse.co.uk.
We’re giving away a pair of grandstand tickets on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week for three lucky winners! For your chance to win, simply either tweet the following:
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Betfred Middleton Stakes (Group 2) 1m2f88y
In a race that tactics may be key, CUBANITA (7/2 Bet365) is taken as a confident selection to hit the frame. The Ralph Beckett trained filly was really starting to show what she was all about at the end of last season, and looks sure to be worth following this. The daughter of Selkirk will be suited by the trip and shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the ground, whilst seems to have more scope about her than many of her rivals. On her last start she took the scalp of Sajjhaa who went on to run finely in Meydan (3 wins, culminating in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free), whilst on her penultimate start only found the well regarded Eagles Peak too good. Ralph Beckett has a way with fillies and is in cracking from of late, evidenced by his big Oaks hope Secret Gesture who battered her field in the Lingfield Trial. Cubanita should go well fresh and is taken to win the tactical battle with Jim Crowley aboard. The French raider Dalkala is feared most, but she may need a sterner test of stamina, whilst Starscope is very talented but literally can’t be trusted.
Betfred Dante Stakes (Group 2) 1m2f88y
Following the fillies into battle for their key trial is the colts, who line up in the Dante Stakes, a rich source of top 3 year olds. Windhoek has demonstrated his Classic claims already this season and is a tough battler who should run well, whilst Greatwood is a horse with much more potential over middle distances and rates a very big danger. The Irish raiders look the most interesting in my book though, and Aidan O’Brien is looking for another trial winner in Indian Chief, whilst Jim Bolger saddles Trading Leather who was last seen down the field in the Racing Post Trophy. Indian Chief seems to have lots of speed and will appreciate a good pace to run at; he is out of Montjeu and thus has the breeding to have a crack here, but preference is for TRADING LEATHER (6/1 Bet365). The Teofilo colt has been aimed at the Derby for a long while now but is almost the forgotten horse given his stablemates exploits (Dawn Approach). He is another that is ground dependent and will appreciate the drying ground, but looks sure to appreciate the step up in trip and is available at a fair 6/1 with Bet365. Trading Leather ran Battle Of Marengo close on debut, has won twice including in Group 3 company, and can be forgiven for his last run on account of the ground, although he started 3/1 second favourite and was expected to go well. Jim Bolger doesn’t send them over for nothing, so be sure to remember he looks set for a big run at a nice price.
Cubanita WIN @ 7/2 with Bet365
Trading Leather WIN @ 6/1 with Bet365
Sir Michael Stoute’s Telescope is the 6-4 favourite to win Thursday’s Dante Stakes as the colt bids to stake his claim as a leading contender for the Investec Derby on June 1st.
The twice-raced son of Galileo – who is currently priced at 5-1 joint second favourite in Betfair’s ante-post Derby market – was an impressive winner of a hot Newmarket maiden at the back end of last season and has been the subject of good reports from the Stoute stable.
Luca Cumani’s Greatwood is also expected to line-up after the three-year-old was a late withdrawal from Saturday’s Lingfield Derby Trial because of soft ground, while Aidan O’Brien’s Indian Chief and Mark Johnson’s unbeaten Windhoek give the race a strong feel.
Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said today: ‘’As expected, Thursday’s Dante Stakes is looking like another informative Derby trial and the winner will surely become the a leading challenger to current Derby favourite Dawn Approach”
To win the Dante Stakes – Betfair Sportsbook: 6-4 Telescope, 4-1 Windhoek, 5-1 Indian Chief, Greatwood, 7-1 Secret Number, Trading Leather, 8-1 Mars, 10-1 Ghurair, 12-1 Festive Cheer, 20-1 Bar
A small field of five line up to put their Derby credentials on the line in the Betfred Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield tomorrow, and Mark Duncan tries to point you in direction of the most likely winner!
The Betfred Derby Trial Stakes was downgraded from a Group 3 to a Listed event this year,which came as no surprise with only eight winners going on to achieve victory in the Derby since its first running in 1932. The most recent of those was the Luca Cumani-trained High Rise in 1998. This years race has turned into a five runner tactical affair, and on paper would suggest that the 15 year duck won’t be broken tomorrow. However that’s not to say the five runners are not good quality racehorses in their own right.
Current favourite is Greatwood, trained by the aforementioned Luca Cumani. His form behind Windhoek at Newmarket over 1m2f looks rock solid with Windhoek looking a top quality horse, since winning comfortably off a mark of 104. On that run alone, Greatwood holds a solid chance, and if improving for the additional distance, he could take all the beating.
Second favourite on the tissue is the Aidan O’Brien trained Nevis. He won a weak maiden at Leopardstown, and then raced in the National Stakes at the Curragh in behind Dawn Approach. He never got involved in the that race over seven furlongs, with this longer trip sure to suit. He’s a son of Irish Oaks winner Moonstone, and could easily step up on the National Stakes effort. Aidan O’Brien clearly has his string coming to the boil nicely following a successful Chester May Meeting. At 5/2, he looks short enough to prove whether he can step up on that.
Elidor and Pasaka Boy both look up against it and it would be a massive shock if they took this trial. The final horse in the line-up who certainly deserves a mention is Hughie Morrison-trained Another Cocktail, who is a sister to Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory. His easy victory over 1m4f over C&D was visually impressive, however the quality of the race looks weak.
For me this looks a race for GREATWOOD to lose. He has rock solid form in the book, and with a trainer who knows how to win this race. The early 5/6 on offer has already disappeared, and the value looks to have gone. If he drifts on the day I may have a nibble, but for the sake of value I’ll recommend Greatwood to beat Nevis in the straight forecast!
3.25 Lingfield Betfred Derby Trial Stakes – Greatwood to beat Nevis
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2.15 Chester – BetVictor.com Dee Stakes (Group 3) 1m2f75y
As often is the case in the Dee Stakes, just a small field of 6 go to post for the Group 3 contest. Some of the smaller UK trainers have pitched in this year to take on the might of Ballydoyle, who themselves saddle another 3 year old colt after Ruler Of The World’s taking display on Thursday in the MBNA Chester Vase.
It may not be so much of a surprise, but the Aidan O’Brien trained Magician (3/1 BetVictor) looks another nice sort and should run well. A son of Galileo, Magician is on a recovery mission after bombing out on his last start, finishing 7/7 in Group 3 company at Leopardstown in October 2012. Prior to that he had acquitted himself well enough and took a maiden on heavy ground on his third start. Evidently he has not shown himself to be a top notcher yet, but has all the right entries later in the season, and has to be respected under these conditions.
At the head of the market is the Ed Dunlop trained Contributer (7/4 Bet365). This galloping son of High Chaparral looks a real nice prospect and will take all the beating on the Roodee. Contributer started life in a very hot maiden at Newmarket last July, finishing 6th behind Ghurair and Dundonnell to name but a few. That promise was realized after taking a maiden very easily at Wolverhampton in November, before following up in a conditions event at Newbury in April. That latest performance was quite taking when beating off some fairly lofty rated individuals, proving he is a force to be reckoned with over middle distances. Graham Lee is in the saddle on this Dante Stakes entry (who has also partnered Willie The Whipper previously) and looks sure to be in with a big shout.
For the in-form Fahey stable is Gabrial’s Kaka (8/1 BetVictor) for the Chester regular, Dr Marwan Koukash. He has a course win to his name already after winning on debut here last back end, but is out of Jeremy and not suited by a strongly run middle distance race in my opinion. He has won over 9f but was found wanting at Epsom over 1m2f a few weeks ago and can’t be backed here on that basis. Glacial Age (20/1 SkyBet) looks to be a shade above his station, but you can’t blame Jo Hughes for having a go for some Group glory in a small field – he will need to improve to get involved in this one.
Of the remainder, Holy Warrior and WILLE THE WHIPPER are joint top rated on official figures at 101. The former is an interesting contender having already taken a Listed race in France this year, followed by a decent display in the Group 3 Prix La Force at Longchamp in April. Holy Warrior (8/1 Bet365) will have no issues with the trip but the ground may be a concern if significant rainfall arrives. If he does take his chance, he has broken from the stalls handily before which could suit to assist in getting out to dictate matters here at tightly cornering Chester; Neil Callan is aboard and bids to give Gay Kelleway a big winner on the Roodee. The latter, Willie The Whipper (4/1 BetVictor), arguably has the best form on offer after finishing 2nd to Morandi in the Criterium De Saint-Cloud (1m2f Group 1) in November. He has already won at Listed level and looks like a true stayer in the making. The forecast rain will not harm his chances and he looks to have a great chance with Jamie Spencer aboard. I anticipate that he will be getting going late on, but if fit and ready then should give the favourite most to think about. The only real concern is that trainer Ann Duffield stated after his win at Pontefract that she doesn’t work him at home, thus, fitness needs to be taken on trust after a 181 day break.
To summarise, Holy Warrior looks sure to run a race if taking his chance on the ground an,d may take them along here after breaking smartly. Magician has to be respected but could get out pointed in this battle, whilst the favourite, Contributer looks primed to run a big race. At the prices, Ann Duffield’s Wille The Whipper is worth a bet at 4/1 and may have shown enough already to take this from the favourite. He has a Derby entry, will go in the rain softened ground and is obviously thought of very highly at home. A reverse forecast with the favourite, Contributer, would also be a sensible play.
Recommended Bet – Willie The Whipper WIN @ 4/1 with BetVictor
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Rory Jiwani of StanJames.com said, “Ruler Of The World won well under Ryan Moore, stretching clear of his rivals impressively in the home straight. That was just his second run and he looks an excellent prospect.
“We’ve cut him from 20/1 to 8/1 for the Derby for which Dawn Approach is our 6/4 favourite. Battle Of Marengo runs for O’Brien in the Derrinstown Derby Trial on Sunday and, at present, he appears to be the stable’s main hope for Epsom. We’ll find out how good he is then but we like what we’ve seen from Ruler Of The World so far.”
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Darren Fleming is back at the Horse Racing Tavern with his preview and tips for Day Two of the Chester May Meeting!
There is Group 3 action at Chester on Thursday in the Stella Artois Huxley Stakes at 2.15 and it looks a tricky race to fathom! The four market leaders are separated by only 4 pounds on official ratings.
Gabrial, the current 11/4 favourite has won over a mile at listed level, and had Highland Knight, another of today’s runners in behind. That is decent form and entitles him to be in mix of things here on the Roodee. Highland Knight would have a great chance based on his run behind Trumpet Major at Sandown, however that was at a mile and he has an extra 2 furlongs to tackle here. Danadana won 3 decent handicaps at around this distance and is worthy of this step up in grade; Luca Cumani has had a few winners recently and I am sure this one will be thereabouts too. Bonfire’s win in the Dante last May ensured that he was second favourite for the Derby. He went on to finish behind easy winner Camelot but did not give his true running at Epsom. He failed to compete with older rivals in the Eclipse and ran well enough over 1m 1f in a Group 3 at the end of the season. Bonfire’s comeback run this season over an inadequate trip will have put him right for this. Dirk Doughtywylie was a very game winner at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster last September. He ran creditably enough at Group 3 level a couple of weeks ago and while he is sure to win races this year, I am not sure it will be this one! Miblish has performed well a couple of times on the all weather but again looks not quite good enough at this level. Rewarding won a handicap at Newmarket a year ago and has put in a few decent efforts since, including a place at Royal Ascot in a Group 3.
As eluded to, this is a fairly open contest but the two I like are Danadana and Bonfire. I find it hard to split them, therefore from a betting angle I’m happy to have them both in a reverse forecast for a nice payout!
Recommended Bet - Bonfire and Danadana (REVERSE FORECAST).
The MBNA Chester Vase at 2.45 offers more Group 3 action later on Day 2. There are only 5 runners but it looks another interesting contest. The Derby value about Ruler Of The World has disappeared after he was put up at 33-1 by Pricewise on Tuesday; he is now just 20-1 for the big race at Epsom in June. The Aidan O’Brien charge is 7-4 (PaddyPower) to win this and with any unexposed horse from the Ballydoyle team, he could be absolutely anything! Havana Beat was a close 4th behind Windhoek in a valuable sales race at Newmarket. The winner followed up impressively at Listed level and that strict line of form suggests he may be competitive here.
Feel Like Dancing is another who comes into the ‘could be anything’ category having won a maiden at Newbury recently. With Gosden and Buick behind him, who knows what this Galileo/Darshaan cross could deliver over middle distances.
Richard Fahey won this last year and his horse Gabrial’s Kaka is a rare runner at the course for Dr Marwan Khokash (only joking sir!). He does not stand out as an obvious form choice though he did finish well clear of the 5th runner here, Mister Impatience when last seen at Epsom. Course form around Chester does count for something however; he seemed to like the bends when making light work of his maiden field here last September.
A small field of unexposed horses around the tight turns of Chester makes this a tough one to call, but 7-4 about Ruler Of The World may look a huge price 5 minutes after the race. I know it is not very original but he would get my vote as Aidan has won this race a couple of times recently.
Recommended Bet - Ruler Of The World (WIN @ 7/4 with Betfair)
Having looked through the rest of the card, I feel obliged to point out an interesting one in the 4.25 in the shape of Your Pal Tal for Tommy Stack and Kieren Fallon. He has been very prominent in his races so far and is well drawn in stall 1 which is perfect for Chester. He is a very interesting runner here having done the majority of his racing on the AW at Dundal and may just steal a nice lead coming into the home straight and with a bit of luck keep the others at bay. Your Pal Tal must surely be worth an each way bet and if you can find a bookie who will pay four places then even better!
Recommended Bet - Your Pal Tal (EACH-WAY @ 8/1 with BetVictor)
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Chester’s May Meeting generally brings out the big guns as the flat season gets into full swing, and with trials for Epsom and Ascot on show, there are plenty of pointers around, as well as the terrific spectacle that is The Chester Cup, writes Jack Milner. This year’s renewal has brought out a stellar field, with Ireland’s raiding party this year including runners from the Willie Mullins, Dermot Weld and Aidan O’ Brien respectively. Donald McCain has won the last two with Overturn and Ile De Re, who will likely have ground too quick for his liking, similarly Thimaar, who has been novice hurdling with the likes of Tominator, Theology, Suraj and Champion Hurdle third Countrywide Flame. Marvan Koukash is renowned for having winners around Chester and he has four runners, but none really appeal that strongly, although a market move would be significant. The ground should be rock hard, and the way Olympiad won a two mile handicap at York last summer suggested he had a lot of potential. He has a good record fresh and the stable are in cracking form.
Elsewhere on the card, Limegrove was impressive in defeat on Saturday when in behind a good sort for the Richard Hannon team and it could be rather significant that the filly is turned out again rather quickly. The form of her previous maidens looks rather smart and she should run a good race, providing she can overcome a tricky wide draw.
The Cheshire Oaks provided a 50/1 shock last year when Aidan O’ Brien’s Betterbetterbetter was done on the line by Good Morning Star, and there is another strong Irish raider in Salhooda for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. She is bred to excel over a longer trip at three, and her two year old form saw her beating some 100 rated horses, and subsequent Group 3 winner Rehn’s Nest. Premium and The Lark are promising maidens with striking pedigree’s who look to be the strongest competition to the Irish filly.
In the Conditions Stakes, Jwala has to be a bet getting weight all round from the field, given her last piece of form from last year, running Sole Power to a couple of lengths at Doncaster. She will be stripped fitter from her reappearance at Bath, and is likely to have ground to suit. Well worth a punt.
1.45 Chester – Limegrove
2.15 Chester – Salhooda
2.45 Chester – Olympiad (Nap)
4.25 Chester – Jwala
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Mark Duncan is back with his preview and tips for the Stanjames.com Chester Cup on Wednesday, which looks set to be a good quality renewal.
The STANJAMES.COM CHESTER CUP (Heritage Handicap) is run over 2 miles 2 furlongs at the charismatic Chester racecourse. It’s always a fascinating race as it attracts the top hunt and flat racing stables which can make it an interesting puzzle to solve. Donald McCain has dominated the past two years, with Ile De Re beating 2011 winner Overturn in a one-two most recently. Donald McCain looks to hold a good chance to land the hat-trick with Ile De Re bidding to retain his crown. However the ground looks to be against him this year, as he’s much better on soft or heavy going. He looks short at 8/1.
There are a few other horses in the line-up that certainly catch the eye – Justification for the Aidan O’Brien yard is likely to be bang there if taking his place. With Ryan Moore booked to ride and Group 1 entries in the Coronation Cup and Ascot Gold Cup penciled in, O’Brien clearly thinks a lot of this son of Montjeu. He looks plenty short enough in the market at 7/1 for what he’s achieved though.
Countrywide Flame is the current 6/1 favourite, and based on the form book, he should take all the beating. He stepped up on all form last season over hurdles, and if reproducing his four and a half length defeat to Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle, he could prove to be the handicap blot of the season off 92. He likes the course (1 win from 1 run) which is always beneficial around the tight bends of Chester; You know he’ll stay which is more than others in the race, and trainer John Quinn has a solid 21% strike rate with his runners at the track (7 wins from 33 runners). Concerns? Well the forecast going of good to firm is a worry – he’s not won on ground better than good to soft. The draw is always a huge obstacle at Chester and can often ruin a horses chance before the race start, so must be taken into consideration when backing at this stage, and finally the long season he’s already had performing at the highest level must be a concern. Despite all of those negatives, I’m still confident of a good showing and at an each way backable price of 6/1 (4 places , ¼ odds), I would not put anyone off having a bet at that price.
Of the other dangers in the field, Simenon and Montaser will be sure to run their race, whilst Olympiad was subject of strong support prior to the Cesarewitch last season, but he failed to shine and is still open to plenty of improvement over this staying trip under a master trainer. I expect him to go off shorter than the 10/1 currently available.
However I will be putting up another selection for the race at bigger odds as a value call. The David Pipe-trained Investissement is currently trading at 25/1 with the sponsor Stan James, and there’s a few reasons why I think he’s been lined up for this race for a while. He was a decent enough juvenile in France, before moving to Evan Williams yard in 2010. He disappointed when pitched into top company for two hurdle runs at Cheltenham, before moving back to the flat with John Gosden. He apparently had breathing problems and also picked up a broken pelvis for his troubles. He then finally showed his quality over staying trips when eventually placing third in the 2011 York Ebor for John Gosden, good enough to have an entry for the Irish St Leger at one stage. He unfortunately picked up another injury after that excellent Ebor run, and after returning to the Pipe stable, straight away there were concerns he wasn’t taking to the hurdling game again. This was proven by three sub-standard runs over hurdles in weak races. It’s no surprise to see David Pipe reverting back to the flat to try and get the best out of him. He runs off a 2lb lower mark than his Ebor third and he gets his preferred good to firm ground.
If there’s a trainer who can ready his horses for the big handicaps, it’s David Pipe. He won the race three years ago with Mamlook, who was a much better horse over hurdles than Investissement, but Mamlook won the Chester Heritage Handicap race off the back of two average runs (beaten 15 and 27 lengths). Investissement comes into the race off the back of three poor runs. He has the useful Willy Twiston-Davies taking off another 5lbs, which means he races off a fly-weight of 8 stone 7lbs. He does have a lay-off to overcome, but he defied a lengthy break to win a Goodwood handicap on his first start for John Gosden. Investissement has clearly had his problems and is difficult to get right, but he looks lined up for a punt for the Pipe yard, and I think the 25/1 will evaporate in the coming days. For the multi-lingual amongst you, Investissement translates to ‘Investment’ in French. This looks like a good Investissement opportunity.
Chester Heritage Cup – Investissement 25/1 EW (Bet with Stan James, 4 places ¼ odds)
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Il De Re wins 2012 Chester Cup www.telegraph.co.uk
David Pipe www.guardian.co.uk
Dawn Approach is the new 5-2 favourite, from 12-1, to win the Investec Derby on Betfair’s Sportsbook after thrashing his rivals in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
The Jim Bolger-trained favourite never looked in danger as he breezed to the front with over a furlong to go before pulling five lengths clear of the field to remain unbeaten, making it seven wins from seven races.
Betfair Spokesman Barry Orr commented immediately after the race, “It’s impossible to knock that performance and with Bolger having trained his sire, New Approach, to win the 2008 Derby, he is virtually certain to try 1m 4f for the first time in Epsom’’
‘’At this stage he is the one they’ll all have to beat and with 4 of the first 5 in the betting all trained in Ireland it’s looks a particularly strong year for Irish three year olds’’.
To win the Derby – Betfair Sportsbook: 5-2 Dawn Approach, 5-1 Battle Of Marengo, Telescope, 8-1 Mars, 10-1 Kingsbarns, 12-1 Toronado, 20-1 Bar
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