WITH no less than seven runners in Saturday afternoon’s Investec Derby (4.30pm), Aidan O’Brien has a very strong chance of securing a record equalling seventh win in the world’s most famous Flat race.
O’Brien’s runners have been popular in the betting since the end of last summer and ante-post punters may have already invested in the likes of Anthony Van Dyck, Japan and BROOME.
Norway, Circus Maximus and Sovereign also represent O’Brien, but wouldn’t make the first three on all known form, and it’s SIR DRAGONET that’s that most exciting of the septet.
After the son of Camelot followed up a commanding debut win at Tipperary with a standout eight-length romp in the Chester Vase, ‘The Lads’ at Ballydoyle were keen to throw another runner into the mix at a cost of £85,000 and he’s now the 5/2 favourite.
Named after King Arthur’s jester, Sir Dragonet was famed for his tomfoolery and presented himself as a courageous warrior, but in reality he would shy away from battle at the slightest provocation.
Unfancied at 14/1 for his racecourse debut, he wasn’t expected to be fighting out the finish at Tipperary, but he pulled something of a rabbit out of the hat by scoring by an effortless three lengths.
That was impressive, but his wide margin triumph in the Group Three Chester Vase was the performance that catapulted him into Derby favouritism.
The form is certainly not bulletproof, with leading fancies King Ottokar and Technician under-performing on the day, but it’s still hard to not be impressed with the way Sir Dragonet drew clear.
If there is a chink in his armour, then it may actually be that conditionsaren’t in his favour.
Both of his wins so far have come on soft ground, and with next to no rain at the Surrey track this week it will be riding quick.
However, there is nothing to suggest that he won’t handle better ground and he looks like the one with that bit of star quality in this year’s field.
Coolmore weren’t the only ones having to shoulder the £85,000 supplementary fee this week, as the Castle
Down Racing syndicate had to dig deep in order to add impressive Dante Stakes winner TELECASTER to the final field.
Like Sir Dragonet, Hughie Morrison’s son of Dawn Approach didn’t see a racecourse until earlier this year and wasn’t considered for the Derby until winning the 1m2f Dante Stakes at York last month.
He showed a great attitude to hold off long-time ante-post Derby favourite Too Darn Hot on the Knavesmire and, being out of a Derby winner and an Oaks runner-up, his breeding suggests that there he’ll improve again for the step up in trip.
Bangkok, who got the better of Telecaster on his fourth career start at Doncaster earlier this season, is another who will appreciate the extra distance, though he may struggle to confirm that form now that Morrison’s runner has experience under his belt.
The third spot in this year’s Derby may well be swept up by Broome, who hasn’t set the world alight in his two starts this season but certainly looks like the right type for the race.
He won the 1m2f Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time out and looked as though the extra two furlongs would suit.
Whether he is classy enough to win a Classic remains to be seen, but he stays well and that counts for a lot in the Derby.
BILL ESDAILE’S INVESTEC DERBY 1-2-3
1 SIR DRAGONET