Sky Sports Racing’s Alex Hammond will join Irish contenders against returning star Stradivarius in the Yorkshire Cup on Friday.
The phrase “save the best for last” seems fitting when it comes to this year’s derby trials.
The race was left wide open when news broke that favourites Luxembourg would miss the Epsom Classic with a minor setback.
His coach, Aidan O’Brien, continued to hold the strongest hand, despite having a winner in most trials. However, the tide shifted to York, where Dante was won in sensational style by Sir Michael Stout’s well-trained desert crown, while a new protagonist strolled to the top of the market.
Strolling seems to be the right word to describe his way of victory. It was only his second start at the racecourse and he displayed the same professionalism at York as he did on his debut at Nottingham in November.
He is a striking horse. To anthropomorphize him for a moment, if he were human, you would imagine him as a humble, low-key, but amazingly handsome lad who doesn’t know the impact he has on others.
He has an air of confidence, and of course he turns his head. Bookmakers were also impressed with the win, with Sky Bet 2/1 over Cazoo Derby’s undefeated ponies after the game.
He has a lot to like, just not at his current price. With that in mind, one of the young O’Brien family will be hoping his ponies can make a big splash.
Donnacha O’Brien is responsible for the 10/1 shooting Piz Badile. He was again at Leopardstown to win the Ballysax, and that game last gave us the derby in 2016 when Harzand won the race on his way to a successful British and Irish derby.
Piz Badile showed real tenacity in winning the Ballysax race, had to fight back after being led by runner-up Buckaroo and has since been encouraging to see the horse come out on top of the list.
Desert Crown looks like the ultimate pro, and it’s exciting to see a horse sparkle in a derby, but at this stage I’m excited to be working with Piz Badile. Let’s forget about Derby for a moment.
Talented Bayd returns to Newbury
One of the world’s biggest stars and one of the most-watched racehorses returns to action at Newbury on Saturday. I’m a little over excited about the prospect of seeing Baaeed back on track.
The William Hagas-trained pony is unbeaten in all six of his races and won a sensational victory on Champions Day at Ascot last season, where he was at the Queen Elizabeth II Championships Defeat the Palace Pier in .
His progress is breathtaking when you consider that he didn’t set foot on the track until June last year, and it looks like he could have improved even more at the age of four.
He is the 4/9 favourite to win Lockinge on Saturday and is already 10/11 to win Queen Anne at Royal Ascot. His pedigree suggests he will go further than the only one-mile trip he has ever participated in.
With entries in excess of a mile and a quarter at the Prince of Wales Championships at Royal Ascot and the Coral Eclipse at Sandown, he seems to have the world in his hands at this stage of his career.
Packing him to the stallion would have been an easy option after his three-year season, but Shadwell Estates has taken the sport option and we’re lucky to see him racing in 2022.
London Gold Cup could be group contenders
Roger Charlton has used it in the past as a springboard for some future stars, including Headman and Time Test.
I’d love to know how Roger and son Harry’s Lapurga fare is. For all intents and purposes, this gelding seems to have something to prove, but for the price, given that Sky Bet is paying for 5 spots, he might be a man to back.
As of this writing, he’s a 20/1 outsider.
v Stradivari at York
Now, don’t knock me out in flames, but I’m against Stradivarius at the Paddy Power Yorkshire Cup in Yorkshire on Friday. He’s a great horse and has accomplished something extraordinary in his long career, but can he keep it up at 8?
He’s a credit to the Clarehaven Stables team for always looking like a character and treating him like a horse [not castrated] Something needs to be done.
So, I’m taking him to a contest he won twice in Search For A Song, the Irish Raiders. She stopped being a spring chicken when she was 6 and it was great to see her owner Moyglare Stud Farm let her in for another season.
She’s already a double winner in the first group, so there’s nothing to prove. She was defeated by her younger brother Kyprios in the return of the Vintage Crop Stakes, and it is hoped that this contest will give her a place in the mission.
By the way, Kyprios played Friday night at the Saval Beg in Leopardstown, and it was a small price to pay to win.
Kyprios, the 6/1s favourite for the Ascot Gold Cup, looks like Aidan O’Brien’s improvement and exciting left-back.