WITH just one winning favourite in the past decade, today’s opening Investec Private Banking Handicap has been the perfect race to start Derby Day proceedings for the bookmakers.
That was certainly the case 12 months ago when the first three home were priced at 25/1, 33/1 and 16/1.
Punters aren’t going to find prices anywhere near as big as that this time with just the eight runners, but I’m still happy to take on those at the head of the market.
John Gosden’s Tartini ran over course and distance on his reappearance when fourth behind Cracksman in the Investec Derby Trial here back in April.
He then went to Lingfield for their Derby Trial last month where he finished third to Best Solution.
That is the strongest form in this field, but he is a half-brother to the St Leger winner Lucarno and I think he will want further than 10 furlongs in time.
He will probably prove the best of these in the long term, yet I’m happy to oppose him at around 5/2.
A bigger threat may well come from Desert Skyline, who was narrowly denied on his seasonal debut in a Listed race at Newmarket a fortnight ago.
Even though that was a fine effort, he is reappearing quickly and is up to a mark of 98 which might just prove a little too high at this stage of his career.
Sylvester Kirk has a fantastic record in this race, winning it three times in the last eight years, and I think he will be celebrating again.
MISTER BLUE SKY ran well in a hot race behind Atty Persse on his reappearance after being gelded and then followed up with a gutsy win at Nottingham last month.
That was his first attempt at 1m½f but he saw it out well and the dam’s side of his pedigree offers plenty of hope that he’ll improve for another couple of furlongs.
Despite just the eight runners, it still looks a competitive race and 12/1 with Coral looks a very fair price.
It’s difficult to rule out any of the field and the other one who interests me is Simon Dow’s Emenem, who won well here at the spring meeting.
Trained locally, there will be plenty supporting him and he looks to have solid claims, despite going up 6lbs.
Andrew Balding’s horses normally run well so Drochaid has to be respected following his last time out win at Chelmsford.
However, that didn’t look the hottest renewal and those that have raced since have been well beaten.
Bristol Missile and Hajaj are other lightly-raced contenders who have a shot, but I’m happy to stick with Mister Blue Sky to keep up Kirk’s impressive record in this contest.
Mister Blue Sky e/w