John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien tightened their grip on the Oaks Picture as Enable gave a big boost to Shutter Speed in a handy defeat of Alluring, who herself was well clear of the third Tanshoplan to the tune of nine lengths. Bookmakers were understandably impressed with the winner, who stayed the trip well and always looked to have the beating of the runner up, making her 9/1 best for the Oaks – a price that is attractive when one considers the fact that she handled Chester so well, stayed so well, and also that Shutter Speed may have the option of the Diane to boot – she goes for the Musidora next week.
The Derby picture – you can buy Epsom Racecourse tickets here – is clouded, with many of the more promising and unexposed three year olds set to run here and the Guineas winner Churchill having a lot of speed breeding on his damside. Aidan O’Brien appears to be searching for his bonafide Derby horse still despite having the 1-2-3 in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial on Sunday and he runs four in the Chester Vase (3.35), half the eight runner field.
Venice Beach is favourite and he may be the pick of the eight today, regardless of Epsom aims. Very green in what turned out to be a fair backend maiden at Leopardstown, he came too late to catch the winner but belied his odds and had been the subject of good whispers before his return at the same course, where he disappointed a few observers, this one included, when he faded to be third, having hit the front. However winner Insayshable would go onto be a close fourth in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and he had a subsequent winner over four lengths behind.
Stepped up to 12 furlongs on good ground at Tipperary, Venice Beach got off the mark and did so in convincing style, responding well to the early urgings of Donnacha O’Brien, and there could well be more to come now he’s found his niche. By Galileo, he shares a dam with Danedream, who famously excelled for fast ground and 12 furlongs, and he could well take another step forward here. He’s 33/1 for the Derby as well, which might be worth a play to smaller stakes.
The form of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud has been well represented and tested so far, with Cunco (seventh) here, ahead of Wings Of Eagles, who was once again behind him when the two met in the Zetland Stakes. That form ought to be upheld with Cunco having fought hard to win the Bet365 Classic trial on his reappearance, and Cunco can go well. So too can Tamleek, who beat four subsequent winners and did so in style when getting fast ground at Newmarket.
The Anvil was disappointing in the Racing Post Trophy but before had been the most talented maiden in the British Isles and the fact he’s off the mark, having broken his duck at Dundalk at the end of March, suggests that he could be a serious each/way player on the best of that form.
Finn McCool was really highly rated last season but didn’t quite live upto expectations, finishing seventh in the Racing Post Trophy after a hard fought maiden win at Navan. A trip should be beneficial for him but this might be a watching brief. Druids Cross comes over for Joesph O’Brien after breaking his maiden in November but he must prove himself. Watch the market for the interestingly bred Count Octave, a scorer at Wolves on his reappearance having caught the eye on his one and only juvenile start when third.
O’Brien will be hoping to take the Huxley Stakes with Deauville, who was gunned down by a high class prospect in the shape of Ulysees at Sandown in the Gordon Richards’ Stakes. He should go well on this really fast ground – he took the Belmont Derby on such ground last year – and that he is favourite is understandable.
However, this is a tight renewal with nothing separating the first four in the market on figures and it could be well worth backing Royal Artillery to turn around that form. John Gosden’s four year old appeared very much to hit a physical wall when pulled out for his run at Sandown and like others in his stable this year, he ought to step forward considerably for that return comeback. If doing so, and running to the level which saw him finish third behind Almanzor and Zarak, then he would have to be of considerable interest at double the price of the favourite.
Poet’s World, one of the four year olds that Sir Michael Stoute does so well with, defied a mark of 104 on his return at Chelmsford, and that he was 8/11 to do so speaks volumes. He’s a serious threat as is Folkswood, second on his return to the UK in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes. Gabrial, fourth in the Lincoln and second in the Bet365 Mile, might be overprices and Snonano has 10lbs to find.
Gosden, Dettori and Khalid Abdullah could also team up to great effort with Via Egnatia in the Boodles Diamond Handicap (3.35). After a slight drop in class from his first two efforts he was deeply impressive when winning by seven lengths at Newmarket last October, beating two subsequent winners including today’s maiden winner Never Surrender, and he probably built on that when he was third in a decent conditions stakes on his return as a three year old when he was just a neck behind a Listed second in Salsabeel (the winner was going 2-2.)
Drawn in one, if he breaks well he can go forward and that was helpful to pretty much all winners yesterday. Areen Heart should improve further and can go well whilst Mutawatheb was an unlucky second to Mailshot on his return at Chelmsford. Mailshot was in his element on the AW but held back on turf once again, and the form may be reversed.
Sharp Defence should be respected having some good form in the book and he made short work of breaking his maiden at Salisbury just 11 days ago. Aventiunus has a poor draw but he could enjoy this track more than he has other turf assignments and Arc Royal does, having made all here in September, although he did that from 3 and now breaks from 8.
Sir Michael Stoute never does better than with a three year old going on four and he could start the day’s action in fine style with the progressive Khiraat, who was two from three last year, taking a strong Doncaster handicap. The runner up Laurence has since won again at Doncaster whilst the third, fourth, fifth and sixth have all won since so he should obviously go well. However so can Bororocco, who stayed on well to take the City and Suburban Handicap at Epsom last month. He must be a big player even from stall eight here whilst Mistiroc could have a hard time dropping back in trip at this very tight trip. Berkshire has the class to defy 105 on his handicap debut and it’s interesting that he gets fast ground and a trip that suits for the first time since winning the August Stakes (and getting a rating of 108) last.
3.35 Chester – 2 pts Venice Beach (9/4 general)
3.00 Chester – 1 pt win Via Egnatia (3/1 general)
2.25 Chester – 1 pt win Royal Artillery (4/1 general)
1 pt each/way Venice Beach, Derby (33/1 general)
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