It's Derby day at the Curragh and Tony Keenan has previewed the card for betting.betfair.com readers...
"Move In Time was rated 113 at his peak for David O’Meara and his wide-margin win at Newmarket from a subsequent winner in a good time suggested he could win again off 90."
One of the features of Irish Derby weekend is the number of horses Aidan O'Brien is running back quickly after Royal Ascot; this has always happened at the meeting but with the trainer having so much stock now it is becoming more frequent. There are 12 such runners over the next two days and Lucius Tiberius won off this preparation last night. Going back to 2003, but not including this year, O'Brien is 12 winners from 54 runners with Royal Ascot horses coming back quickly with the two-year-olds (five winners from 14 runners) doing best, the three-year-olds (five winners from 27 runners) and older horses (two winners from 13 runners) a bit behind.
As to the Derby itself, I've been going around in circles all week and getting no further with it. Saxon Warrior looks too short but that has been a pointer in itself with the yard over time. Dee Ex Bee could be overpriced on Epsom form - but not so much on his other efforts - and I have big concerns with him on fast ground. If one of the front two don't win then it opens up a world of possibilities for a strange result but this is a race I am avoiding for a bet.
Curragh 14:15 - Midgley runners can hold sway in the Rockingham
This year's Rockingham has a really unusual market with a pair of Irish-trained three-year-olds heading it in Blue Uluru and Dali; there is every chance they are taking this race in en route to pattern events but my inclination is to oppose them. Their low draws are historically heavily favoured at this meeting but not since the stalls have been placed in the centre of the track and the pace seems more towards middle to high, not least Caspian Prince in stall 11.
The top-weight (who has an excellent record at the track) has a chance despite a massive burden as does the progressive bottom-weight Only Spoofing but my preference is for a pair of Paul Midgley runners in the middle of the handicap and drawn close to the pace. Move In Time was rated 113 at his peak for David O'Meara and his wide-margin win at Newmarket from a subsequent winner in a good time suggested he could win again off 90. His fourth place in the Scottish Sprint Cup is worth upgrading too as he was drawn on the wrong side and did best of those held up.
Line Of Reason ran in that same Musselburgh race and found things going wrong from the outset when he dwelt in the stalls. His previous effort at York suggested he was back in form and he backed that up with a second in a conditions race last time, splitting a pair rated 107 and 111 with a strong time-figure. In light of that, 88 here looks fair and he is already a course winner.
Curragh 14:50 - Smash Williams to hit the frame again
Fleet Review is returning quickly from Royal Ascot where he was disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup; still, he should win this if reproducing his Middle Park or Lacken Stakes runs with six furlongs on fast ground likely to be his optimum conditions. The poor efforts of the Irish sprinters in the Commonwealth Cup is a little concerning however - five of them finished between 14th and 21st - and that might say they are not a strong group of horses.
I still can't bring myself to bet against him in the win market as his price is not particularly short but Smash Williams does look a solid place bet. A talented juvenile back in 2015, he has got back to something like that level in his last three starts since the tongue-tie has been applied. His fifth behind Merchant Navy was a decent run in the context of this race while he was better than the form last time too, shuffled back from a good early position in the Ballycorus and meeting trouble as a result but finishing off well. His record over course-and-distance is good and he should make the frame at least.
Curragh 17:55 - Old stager Top Othe Ra can flat transition pay
The middle part of the card looks difficult but Top Othe Ra is worth a small play in the last. A 133-rated hurdler but a late-comer to the flat, he showed an aptitude for this code when beating next-time-out winner Nessun Dorma at Leopardstown in a good overall time. A mark of 79 looks a reasonable mark in light of that with the extra furlong in his favour, too, and while there are plenty with chances, nothing other than Low Sun (who is returning from a break and could be aiming at something like Galway) appeals as having lots in hand.
2018 P+L: -19.1 points
1 Point Back Move In Time @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Curragh 14:15
1 Point Place Back Move In Time @ 3.02/1 or bigger in the Curragh 14:15
0.5 Point Back Line Of Reason @ 16.015/1 or bigger in the Curragh 14:15
0.5 Point Place Back Line Of Reason @ 3.814/5 or bigger in the Curragh 14:15
1.5 Point Place Back Smash Williams @ 2.01/1 or bigger in the Curragh 14:50
0.5 Point Back Top Othe Ra @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Curragh 17:55