The Derby might leave Tony Keenan cold but he has found two fillies to back in the other Group 1s at Epsom...
"Firstly, she was parachuted into the Curragh race days beforehand and may have lacked fitness as the Oaks was her target. Furthermore, sectional times suggest she was the best filly on the day and in any case she was competing against a rival that seems to grow an extra leg on heavy going."
This is about as lacklustre a renewal of the Derby as you will find and I'm betting long enough to know not to force things simply because there is a big race coming up; this sort of 'no opinion' view may not play well in the media but there you go.
So this Derby preview is going to boil down to a no bet recommendation as I've watched all the trials and said afterwards that those horses can't win but one of them inevitably will.
Starting in Ireland, the Derrinstown looked a messy race with an 84-rated pacemaker finishing too close for comfort; he has since finished unplaced in a weak maiden. Moonlight Magic could yet improve but the market rates US Army Ranger our best chance of a win though a bet for him would be a bet for 'the vibes' which I largely prefer to ignore.
Wings Of Desire rates as one of the least bad options having won one of the premier trials but that is hardly the best recommendation for a Derby winner while Deauville - not one of Ballydoyle's leading lights - was close up despite having his first run of the season.
The Guineas is another key trial but that form was devalued by Galileo Gold's run in Ireland while Massaat has to rate a doubtful stayer; he is not bred for 12 furlongs but more importantly he races like a miler and that sort of racecourse evidence should always take precedence over bloodlines.
Cloth Of Stars is about the most likeable in the field and is properly bred for the job; his win in the Greffulhe when he reversed juvenile form with Robin Of Navan suggests he has improved over the winter but his odds are short enough. That's a very long-winded way of saying you'd be better watching the race!
Minding can win The Oaks even if not at her best
The Oaks has much more betting appeal and Minding should be shorter than her current 2.265/4. Official ratings have her upwards of 9lbs clear of the rest and she can run below her best and still win.
John Ferguson has argued for running Skiffle here in light of Minding getting beaten in the Irish 1,000 Guineas but I don't buy that argument as Minding did little to lessen her claims for this at the Curragh yet has drifted from 1.68/13 to 2.265/4.
Firstly, she was parachuted into the Curragh race days beforehand and may have lacked fitness as the Oaks was her target. Furthermore, sectional times suggest she was the best filly on the day and in any case she was competing against a rival that seems to grow an extra leg on heavy going. Finally, she hit her head on the stalls and while it is hard to put a value on that incident it was hardly ideal.
Stamina is a doubt as she is out of the miler Lillie Langtry but her relaxed style of racing gives her every chance of getting the trip and she stayed well as a two-year-old. Everything else in the field needs to improve appreciably to beat her and Minding looks a fair price at current odds.
A Simple bet for the Coronation Cup
Postponed has lots to recommend him in the Coronation Cup but his price is short and he is worth opposing on value grounds. Found seems likely to run here now but she gets beaten a lot (already a five-time beaten favourite) and I much prefer the claims of the serial winner Simple Verse.
This race will likely have been her early target and she ran a race full of promise in the Jockey Club, travelling well for a long way under a Group 1 penalty. Her win on Champions Day when not getting the most efficient ride (raced wide) suggests she can mix it at this level getting the allowance.
Not only that but she comes from a very strong crop of three-year-old fillies last season. She herself beat the colts [eventually] in the St. Leger while the likes of Arabian Queen and Found did likewise during the season.
Back Minding @ 2.265/4 in the Oaks
Back Simple Verse @ 5.14/1 in the Coronation Cup