Friday, June 6, 2014

Epsom Deby 2014 - Australia to rule the world

All talk about the Epsom Derby has revolved over one name for the past few months; on Saturday, we will finally get to see whether Australia can deliver on the huge burden put on its shoulders since being hailed as the best Flat horse put under the care of the master of Ballydoyle Aiden O'Brien. Should he prove more hype than substance, there are some other smart contenders that can make a name for themselves on Saturday. Here are some of my thoughts on the big race and who I believe are the leading players.

Short favourite Australia was beaten in the 2000 Guineas without a dent to its reputation. For a horse whose pedigree screams for middle distances, his 3rd place finish in the May Classic against this year's best 3 year-old milers only contributed to his growing number of adepts. The skeptics keep throwing the argument that his amazing sprinting sectionals in training might mean that he will not handle the 12 furlong distance of the Derby. I don't buy that. The jaw-dropping sectionals and his staying pedigree seem to indicate a horse having the unique talent to dominate a top-class mile to a mile-and-a-half race. Speed and stamina, isn't that the 2 requisites every trainer is looking for to conquer the Epsom Classic? His pedigree is blue blood all over. By an Epsom Derby winner in Galileo, out of an Oaks winner in Ouija Board, Australia ticks all the right boxes. Only a huge deluge turning the going into extreme heavy might stop him, but on paper and form, this fellow cannot be opposed on Saturday.

The rest will be running for the minor places and the one I like best out of the lot is Geoffrey Chaucer. Also from Ballydoyle, this is a serious colt in his own right. His pedigree page is fantastic, being a half-brother to Shamardal and having Montjeu as sire underlines the fact that the 12 furlong will be right up his alley. His last defeat in the Derrinstown Trial is commonly attributed to the traffic problems he encountered in the straight. There is no doubt in my mind that he will beat the 2 horses that preceded him on that day, notably Ebanoran and Fascinating Rock. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, Geoffrey Chaucer has a top chance of being in the placings on Saturday.

John Gosden is saddling 2 colts for the occasion and I think one of them will land a place. Whether it is the unbeaten Western Hymn or the supplemented  Romsdal, I am not sure. The former is the pick of the stable jockey but you'd feel that if he were a live chance that Romsdal would not have been added to the party. I like the way this son of Halling finished his race into second in the Chester Vase behind Orchestra. I think he will definitely reverse the form with his conqueror that day.

Of the others, I don't think True Story is good enough. There are still question marks regarding his flop in the Dante Stakes but chances are that he might have been over-hyped following a 7-length win in Listed company in the early part of the season.

Kingston Hill is another I think will show his limits despite public confidence from connections. He was well-beaten by Australia in the Guineas and I have doubts whether he will handle the stiff 12 furlongs of Epsom.

At this point, it does not look as though forecast torrential rain will turn this race into a mud-fest. So, Australia must have strong and valid chances for the win. I believe he will have no problem handling the track or the distance or the occasion. Australia will rule the world. For the placings, I will go with Geoffrey Chaucer and Romsdal.

Derby 1-2-3: Australia, Geoffrey Chaucer, Romsdal

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