Saturday Racing Tips: Moonlight a Magic bet in the Irish Derby

Tony has a double figure fancy for the Irish Derby at Curragh
Tony has a double figure fancy for the Irish Derby at Curragh

A big weekend on both sides of the Irish sea, with the Northumberland Plate taking centre stage at Newcastle and the Irish Derby the feature race at the Curragh. Our man Tony Calvin is back with his best bets for both...

"To be honest with you, Harzand and Idaho are now the correct prices now the market has settled down, and are likely to dominate the finish, but Moonlight Magic appeals as the best punt in the race."

Sticking with Saigon in the Northumberland

Whenever you are unsure in betting, do nothing, and that was largely my guiding light when looking at Saturday's televised racing on Channel 4.

Granted, I've felt sharper, given that I was up all night watching and trading the EU Referendum, but in my defence I have been studying the cards since Thursday morning, and little has sprung out at me.

I looked at the Northumberland Plate on Monday - read my antepost column here - and I am very happy with my 33/1 each-way position with Saigon City, who now ranges from 12/1 to 16/1 in the marketplace.

I was initially a bit miffed by his outside draw in 17, but I was reminded on Twitter that we don't really know how it is going to pan out on Tapeta, and the only 2m race that has been run on the new surface has been an 11-runner handicap and the first three home were drawn 6, 10 and 11.

I am happy to stay just with that one selection in the 16:15.


I think Dannyday will take some stopping in the consolation race at 15:40 but I am happy to let him run unbacked at the prices.

He looked a stayer going places when winning at Chelmsford last time and I don't think a 6lb rise will stop him going very close here. But he hasn't been missed in the market, which isn't surprising considering he was 8/1 ante-post favourite for the main race at the start of the week.

Buratino looks a worthy favourite in the 14:30, but again the price isn't anything to shout about.

However, again, I suspect he will go very close to winning, as he is unpenalised for his Coventry Stakes win last season and shaped as if coming to hand when fourth in the Sandy Lane at Haydock last time. He sidestepped the Commonwealth Cup last week on account of the soft (ish) ground but that is obviously no concern on this all-weather surface.

Sorry to be boring but there is also nothing doing in the 15:05 either, though I was most drawn to the lightly-raced Captain Colby on his first start for Ed Walker, who has his string in decent form. He has a long absence to overcome but he goes well when fresh and improved for the fitting of blinkers on his final two starts last season.

If you want a bet in a later race on RUK, then Be Perfect fits the bill from a falling mark of 78 in the 16:50.

He has winning form on Tapeta and he was a real eye-catcher at Chester two starts ago, and he is already 7lb lower here. He is handicapped to win.


The Newmarket card isn't overly-enticing either, and the Criterion Stakes at 15:55 really is very trappy. So Beloved is the most solid in the race, but I won't be having a bet.

Bateel will relish the soft ground in the 1m4f listed race at 14:45 and the first-time hood is another interesting angle. She has a lot find on official ratings but I suspect she will take a big step forward in these underfoot conditions.

Queen Mary fifth Simmie is the form horse in the 15:20, but she makes a quick turnaround and meets some unexposed once-raced winners and it is not a race that appeals as an attractive betting contest.

Moonlight Magic can take on the favourites in the Irish Derby

It's not normally in my brief but I am going to stray into RTE territory for the Irish Derby at the Curragh. Just as well given my lack of recommendations above!

I am kicking myself for not braving the wrath of "The Opposition to the Each Way Thieves Society" - that would be the bookmaking fraternity on Twitter, between you and I, not that they often darken my door these days - and not putting up 6/1 poke Idaho win and place in my ante-post column on Monday, as you may have read in the link above.

I was tempted, but bottled it on probable abuse grounds. That won't be happening again, as Idaho is now only a 9/4 poke after stablemate US Army Ranger was withdrawn with a dirty scope on Wednesday morning. And Harzand will only be confirmed as a definite runner on Saturday. (Kudos to B.B colleague Tony Keenan for tipping up Idaho at 6.05/1 before the US Army Ranger news).

To be honest with you, Harzand and Idaho are now the correct prices now the market has settled down, and are likely to dominate the finish, but Moonlight Magic appeals as the best punt in the race.

He went off a similar price for the far-stronger race at Epsom (14/1 in fact, the same price as Idaho) and ran deplorably, finishing stone last. But at least he had the easiest race that any of the Derby horses reappearing here had that day, as he was allowed to coast home once it was soon clear that he wasn't enjoying himself.

Jim Bolger must be confident that was a one-off for him to be risking his Derrinstown winner so soon after that eclipse - I am assuming the horse simply didn't handle the track - and he will hopefully run into a place at the very least. Plenty of horses have put Epsom shockers behind them in the past, and one or two have won.

I think he rates the best value in the race at 16.015/1 and above on the Exchange, but it is only a small-stakes play on a tricky weekend.

If the ground dries up appreciably in the next 24 hours and my Epsom fancy Shogun wins, then I'm not a big price to be jumping off a bridge near you on Saturday evening.

Along with a few punters who backed "Remain" down to 1.061/18 at one point on Thursday night, no doubt...

Recommended Bets
Back Moonlight Magic for the Irish Derby 16.015/1 or bigger on the Exchange.

Already Recommended
Back Saigon City at 33/1 each way in Northumberland Plate

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