Heavy rain at Epsom has resulted in the word firm, being replaced by soft, as Derby Day approaches.
Speaking yesterday, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: “We had 20mm of steady rain in a six-hour spell. I walked the track at 2.30pm just after it had ceased, and I must say it has taken it quite well. I think it will settle down a bit now, and we’ll stick with good to soft, soft in places, overnight.”
Cooper added: “I don’t think there’s much in the way of rain to come. There’s the chance of showers around Wednesday lunchtime, but it’s a slowly improving picture, with the temperature picking up to 20C by Saturday. It’s not going to be rapidly drying weather – there’s no great sunshine forecast – but the course should dry out and I would expect us to lose the soft in places before too long and be good to soft for some time.”
As the weather did its bit to change the Epsom Derby picture, so did Ryan Moore, or did he? Rumours on social media seemed to suggest that he has chosen Deauville over US Army Ranger. The changing markets appeared to back-up the suggestions with plenty of money for Deauville whilst ‘Army Boy’ started to drift. The Dante runner-up was backed in to 7’s by Paddy Power, with the Chester Vase winner as big as 11/2 in places.
Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: “There has been sustained support for two Ballydoyle Derby entries today, and neither was US Army Ranger.
Rumours aside, there’s every chance that an ease in ground conditions will enhance the chances of race favourite Wings Of Desire. His pedigree; by Pivotal out of an In The Wings mare, points to a preference for soft ground. The mare in question is Gull Wing, and two of her three career victories came in testing conditions.
As Ballydoyle contenders jostled for position in the markets, so news came of another major contender. Owen Burrows’ Guineas runner-up has been largely forgotten since Newmarket, but that run behind Galileo Gold is arguably the strongest piece of form as we head towards Saturday’s Epsom showpiece.
Massaat also holds an entry in the French Derby, but Epsom remains the target, with Burrows yesterday saying: “We just thought we'd wait and see what the weather does at Epsom as well and give ourselves the option but I wouldn't read anything into it. I would say France will be even softer but we've left him in just in case. He's pleased us since the Guineas and has one little bit of work left to do. We're happy with him.”
Some have questioned whether Burrows’ fella will get the trip, but his sire Teofilo has produced an Irish Derby winner in Trading Leather, a Yorkshire Oaks winner in Pleascach, and the Irish St Leger winner Voleuse de Coeurs. Whilst I’m not sure how he’d get on in a Galileo Gold style DNA test, I’d wager he’ll see out the trip just fine.
The 237th Investec Derby is set to be one of the most competitive renewals in living memory, and over the coming days will undoubtedly provide us with further twists and turns. The fact that no fewer than four were supplemented for the race on Monday, goes to show the open nature of the event. Of the 18 likely to go to post, few could be discounted with any amount of confidence.