Such is the frenetic early gallop to the flat season that no sooner has the 2000 Guineas been run, we hurtle headlong into a furlong full of Derby trials. Of course, it can legitimately be argued that the pre-eminent Derby trial is the 2000 Guineas, but there are plenty of more stamina laden, if generally less classy, affairs where contenders are keen to test their mettle over an extra quarter mile.
Dawn Approach sets the standard on the basis of his running-all-the-way-to-the-line execution of a fair Guineas field. Given that he's likely to run next in the Derby, you can take your view on him now. Is he classy enough? No question. Will he stay? Probably. Is he a worthy favourite? Yes. Is he value? Erm, that depends on what else there is in the field.
The next few in the field have mainly been strutting their stuff this past week. If not, then they will be heading to York on Thursday for the Dante, a major Derby trial.
Looking at those to race in the last week, we start with Ruler Of The World, a horse which didn't run until this season, and which is now unbeaten in two, including a six length destruction in the Chester Vase. That was a tactical affair, and in that context, the way he quickened away at the finish was very impressive. So much so that I bagged some of the 14/1 offered by Ladbrokes afterwards. Paddy were as short as 6/1 (and still are), and now the best price on Ruler Of The World is 10/1.
He's sure to improve again, and he'll stay every inch of the mile and a half trip. For me, his was the most taking trial of the week.
On Friday, another O'Brien runner, Magician, pulled a rabbit out of a hat (ahem) to win the Dee Stakes by four lengths from Contributer on slightly rain-softened ground. The word from Ballydoyle is that this chap is not thought to be a twelve furlong horse, and may be kept to ten furlongs. That doesn't make the standout 25/1 with Stan James very appealing.
Saturday saw Lingfield host its Derby trial, traditionally the weakest, and Aidan O'Brien emphasised the strength of his squad of Epsom aspirants by winning this contest too, by the small matter of nine lengths, courtesy of Nevis. With the second favourite running last, the form looks suspect, and it's a good few years since the Lingfield Derby Trial winner took Epsom glory, despite constitutional similarities between the tracks.
Nevis is 33/1 for the Derby, if you fancy his chance. The strong suggestion is that those in the Ballydoyle camp don't especially fancy his chance.
To Sunday, and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, a race farmed by O'Brien in recent years. Indeed, he recorded his tenth win in the race since 1998, courtesy of Battle Of Marengo, a horse which had been expected to be the main flag bearer for the Coolmore operation this term.
That Battle of Marengo was sent off 2/13 favourite, and yet was only able to scramble home by less than two lengths, and was only three lengths in front of a 33/1 shot, must have been disappointing for connections. The market screamed that this was the great hope for the team, and - although a win - it was something of a floppy limp performance.
Most bookies left the Battle where he was and some shortened Dawn Approach as a consequence of a relatively frail effort from a key market rival.
This week sees the Dante Stakes run, and here it is expected that Sir Michael Stoute's Telescope, vying for second favouritism, will take on something else from the Aidan O'Brien mob, most likely, Indian Chief. Telescope will be stepping up in trip and class from a mile maiden win last time and, whilst he might be able to do it, he doesn't look like value for the Derby to me at 5/1 or so.
You could do worse than take him on with Indian Chief, as a speculative. That fella is 28/1 with sportingbet currently, and will shorten a fair amount even if running close to Telescope. Should he win the Dante, he's likely to be a single figure price for the Derby, so it's worth - as I say - a small speculative.
Having gone through the lines of most of the other key Derby protagonists, it would seem that the answer to the 'Is Dawn Approach good value?' question is no. But nor is he bad value. His price is about right, and he is a worthy favourite.
In a race like the Derby, however, with the big dipper undulations, reverse camber, and possible big field meaning interference for some, I'd sooner back something at a bigger price. At the moment, that would be Ruler Of The World, who might still have an ounce of value in his 10/1 odds; and, Indian Chief, whose 28/1 odds will tumble if he can make a fair fist of the Dante this week.
Onwards, and I've had a dig at a placepot perm from Doncaster today. The format has changed from the last couple of weeks, as well as the author (it's now me!), and there are three ways to follow me in, should you feel so inclined.
And, in other big news, I'm absolutely delighted to report that the daily race cards have had a make over. They are now prettier, more accessible, and lightning fast! We're still adding more functionality to them, and results and deeper form analysis, as well as special reports are to follow, but at last the cards are there, and more usable than most!
Check out the new race cards feature here (they're on the top right of the main menu too).
Now then, this won't be for everyone. In fact, it may not be for anyone. But if you fancy getting involved with a really smart bumper horse, whose future over hurdles and especially fences looks assured, then you might want to take a look at Anthony Honeyball's Solstice Son.
This fellow has been third and second in his two bumpers, and the form of both looks rock solid. Solstice Son finished third to very highly rated Vieuz Lion Rouge on debut, and that fellow went on to win twice since and then run respectably in the Cheltenham bumper.
He then ran second to a good horse called The Skyfarmer, with the sixth horse that day, Just Archie, beating all bar the winner yesterday in the Plumpton bumper.
Shares cost £4,000 for 10%, and then £135 or so a month and, if you were looking for meaningful involvement with a horse whose future looks extremely bright, then you could do a lot worse than this chap.
I should also add that Anthony Honeyball is an excellent trainer (just look at his strike rate!), and a really nice bloke too. Indeed, you may know that geegeez readers (and me) have a horse syndicated with Anthony already.
Anyway, if you're interested, you can contact Anthony here.
And finally, advance warning of something very, very cool which is happening tomorrow. I'm giving away what I believe to be my best free content ever, and I obviously want you to get hold of it. I can't say too much ahead of tomorrow, but it's a full length video full of hints and tips, and also plenty of punting micro-systems to take away and use immediately.
I've also produced an accompanying report, which highlights the systems.
It's free for a short time from tomorrow, and I'd urge you to take a look at it. I promise it's worth your time. 🙂