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Vodaphone Derby form guide


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  • The Irish seem to hold most of the aces in the race, but Aidan O’Brien’s squad will have to work hard to win their trainer a third successive Derby. O’Brien is likely to run four, all with chances, but his countrymen Dermot Weld and John Oxx have first-class candidates in Alamshar and Refuse To Bend.

    Late-developing horses could run better than their form suggests and it would be no surprise if one of the Godolphin runners blossomed at Epsom, but Refuse To Bend has the right credentials. Alamshar and Kris Kin could make the places.

    ALAMSHAR

    Trained by John Oxx
    Represents the Sinndar team that won in 2000

    For: Plenty of stamina influences in his pedigree – granddam Aliysa was first past the post in the 1989 Oaks and Shahrastani won the Derby. Beaten on seasonal debut by Balestrini at Leopardstown in April, but defeated Brian Boru as a two-year-old and did so again in Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial in May this year. Latter race was stepping-stone to victory for the three most recent Derby winners.

    Against: That Balestrini defeat; subsequent narrow beating of The Great Gatsby was not great; trainer expressed slight reservations about stamina.

    ALBANOV
    NON RUNNER

    Trained by John Dunlop
    Yet to liveup to breeding

    For: Shrewd trainer; represents a pedigree cross (Sadler’s Wells on a Darshaan mare) which has produced numerous good winners.

    Against: A maiden who looks short of the necessary gears.

    ALBERTO GIACOMETTI

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien
    One of several who could give trainer record third successive win

    For: A Gr 1 winner at St-Cloud (bt Summerland a head) as a two-year-old, and progressed on second start this year when third in Gr1 Prix Lupin; plenty of stamina in pedigree; by a top sire and trained by a young maestro.

    Against: Might need ease in the ground to produce his best – both juvenile wins on soft, and disappointing on firm at Leopardstown in April.

    BALESTRINI

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien
    Another from the Ballydoyle battalion

    For: Beat Alamshar (gv 3lb) and Alberto Giacometti (gv 6lb) at Leopardstown in May; by an outstanding sire who died recently (usually the start of a run of major successes)

    Against: Only fourth on second start this year in Gr 1 Prix Lupin, when Alberto Giacometti gained revenge by finishing one place ahead.

    BRIAN BORU

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien
    Likely choice of O’Brien’s stable jockey, Mick Kinane

    For: Followed in High Chaparral’s hooves when winning Racing Post Trophy as two-year-old and became winter favourite for Epsom. From a top stable, by a top stallion and plenty of stamina on dam’s side.

    Against: Beaten on seasonal debut this year by Balestrini and Alamshar (although conceding 5lb) and needs to improve on that effort. Reports that stable’s three-year-olds are not in the same class as last year’s (admittedly vintage) crop.

    DUNHILL STAR

    Trained by Barry Hills
    Twice beaten by Magistretti

    For: Won first two outings and impressive on easy ground at Kempton on seasonal debut; stamina should not be a problem (dam fourth in Oaks).

    Against: Beaten by Magistretti in the Fielden and Dante Stakes (although could reverse form over Derby trip); might be best with cut in the ground.

    DUTCH GOLD

    Trained by Clive Brittain
    Remember Terimon?

    For: Owner forked out £90,000 to supplement him for the race (even a Sheikh would think twice for a no-hoper); won Chester Vase (over Derby distance); trainer in form (and saddled 500-1 shot Terimon to finish second in 1989).

    Against: On breeding is a doubtful stayer (although didn’t look like one at Chester); too many defeats to fit the profile of a Derby winner.

    FRANKLINS GARDENS

    Trained by Mark Tompkins
    Named after Northampton rugby club’s ground

    For: Showed aptitude for Epsom’s peaks and troughs when course winner in April, and then revealed requisite stamina when winning Lingfield Derby Trial, beating Let Me Try Again; very game.

    Against: Two narrow wins this season suggest that he lacks a Classic winner’s X-factor.

    GRAIKOS

    Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor
    One for the boys in blue

    For: Touted as a likely Derby contender last year when trained in France before being bought by Godolphin; did not have a clear run when fifth in Dante Stakes.

    Against: Tends to get beaten in top grade; said to need soft ground.

    HANDEL
    NON RUNNER

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien
    Another son of the ubiquitous Sadler’s Wells

    For: Won over the Derby distance at Leopardstown last month following a satisfactory debut at same track in April; by a top sire and in a shrewd stable; seems to handle quick ground and sire’s stock usually go on soft.

    Against: Inexperience.

    KRIS KIN

    trained by Sir Michael Stoute
    Mount of the champion jockey

    For: Kieren Fallon rides; Stoute attempting to follow up Sharahstani’s 1986 win; won Dee Stakes at Chester (as did 1999 winner Oath); handles quick ground; good each-way value; owner supplemented on Monday at a cost of £90,000

    Against: Might be a late developer, but needs to improve.

    LET ME TRY AGAIN

    Trained by Terry Mills
    Epsom-trained horse seeking to become first local winner since 1932

    For: Close second in Derby Trial at Lingfield (behind Franklins Gardens); bred for the job; owner/trainer’s enthusiasm utterly infectious (might even rub off on the horse).

    Against: Seems to lack that extra atom of class, which counts in the Derby.

    LUNDY’S LANE

    Trained by Clive Brittain
    Stable second string to Dutch Gold

    For: A couple of wins (but they weren’t great races), recent third in Italian Derby.

    Against: Beaten in UAE Derby; lacks class for this; possible non-runner.

    MAGISTRETTI

    Trained by Neville Callaghan
    Trainer bids to win first Derby

    For: Two wins this season include victory in Dante Stakes (a useful guide to Derby and other big races), beating Dunhill Star each time and Songlark and Graikos on second occasion

    Against: Experts, including his trainer, have questioned his stamina (but he finishes well).

    NEW SOUTH WALES
    NON RUNNER

    Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor
    Aussie name suggests he should be good at sport

    For: Unbeaten in a pair of races at two, including at Gr 3 level (subsequently transferred from John Oxx to Godolphin).

    Against: Only fifth to Lateen Sails in Dubai spring trial then sixth in Prix Lupin (behind Alberto Giacometti and Balestrini); needs to rediscover winning ways; said to need soft.

    NORSE DANCER

    Trained by David Elsworth
    Desert Orchid’s trainer bids for the Derby

    For: Showed commendable attitude (and touch of class) when battling to the line in 2000 Guineas; had plenty of experience; £90,000 supplementary entry fee suggests confidence in the camp.

    Against: On a losing streak; possibly a bit one-paced in comparison to rivals at this level.

    PRINCE NUREYEV

    Trained by Rod Millman
    Small stable aims for the big time

    For: Won most recent start in manner that suggested stamina is not a problem.

    Against: Huge leap in class.

    REFUSE TO BEND

    Trained by Dermot Weld
    Guineas winner, unbeaten in four races

    For: A Gr 1 winner attwo, a Classic hero at three (in the 2000 Guineas), and by a sire who has produced two most recent Derby victors. Has the speed to hold a good position, and his dam has produced stamina-packed offspring. Trainer used to plundering the big prizes

    Against: Yet to race beyond one mile (but likely to be effective over further); not impressive in recent gallop and drifter in betting.

    SHIELD

    Trained by Gerard Butler
    Yet another all-weather winner trying to bridge the gap

    For: Won at Lingfield last year then stepped up to take Classic Trial (bt Inch Again) at Sandown in April; making progress in right direction; should inherit stamina from dam.

    Against: Moving up in class; Inch Again let form down when well beaten at Goodwood; sire yet to produce Derby winner.

    SKELLIGS ROCK
    NON RUNNER

    Trained by Brendan Duke
    Rank outsider

    For: Everyone can dream.

    Against: Unlikely to cause bookmakers sleepless nights.

    STRENGTH ‘N’ HONOUR

    Trained by Charles Cyzer
    Likely to struggle

    For: Won over Derby trip (on all-weather track); fair effort when third to Shield at Sandown.

    Against: Honourable, but will probably find a few too good.

    SUMMERLAND

    Trained by John Gosden
    Unlikely to put owners in Wonderland

    For: Had plenty of experience; by top sire (yet to break Derby duck); close second toAlberto Giacometti final start last year.

    Against: Easily beaten off by Dutch Gold at Chester.

    THE GREAT GATSBY

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien
    Attempting to put on a Derby show

    For: His sire was second in French Derby, and dam’s sire won the Epsom equivalent, and connections have been involved in last two Derby heroes; pushed Alamshar on seasonal debut; Pat Eddery on board having switched from Let Me Try Again last week.

    Against: Not top-class as a two-year-old.

    UNIGOLD

    Trained by Ed Dunlop
    Trainer takes on father John

    For: Shaped nicely when second in Predominate Stakes at Goodwood (has beating of Shield on line through Inch Again).

    Against: Formbook says not good enough.

    To see Horse & Hound’s complete guide to the form of the Derby entries don’t miss this week’s magazine (5 June), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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