Donn's Articles » Ballydoyle targets

Ballydoyle targets

Here’s a game you can play at home: match the Ballydoyle horses with their respective targets. Set it up like one of those workbooks that your seven-year-old brings home from school, horses on the left, races on the right, break them up into categories if you like, three-year-olds and older horses, then draw the lines that connect the horses with the races. When you are finished, colour them in. (You can use brown for bay.)

The first one, as is usually the case, is done for you: Seville – Dante. We haven’t seen the son of Galileo yet this season, but the fact that his Derby springboard is the Dante and not the Derrinstown suggests that he may be Derby co-pilot rather than Derby captain.

History tells us that the top Aidan O’Brien-trained Derby prospect runs in the Derrinstown (if he hasn’t already run in the Guineas) and that the others pick up the rest of the trials, starting with the Dante. Ballydoyle’s two Derby winners Galileo and High Chaparral both won the Derrinstown (and the Ballysax before it) before going on to Epsom heroism. Yeats won the Derrinstown and was favourite for the Derby before injury ruled him out, Dylan Thomas won the Derrinstown, Fame And Glory won the Derrinstown.

There are a couple of inconsistencies with this theory, like the fact that last year’s Derby favourite Jan Vermeer made his seasonal debut in the Gallinule, but he was held up with a bruised foot earlier in the year, and it may have been just too much of a rush to get him ready for the Derrinstown. Also, Dylan Thomas wasn’t number one in the 2006 Derby, but the stable’s flag-bearer that day was Horatio Nelson, who had come via the Guineas. That’s allowed under the if-he-hasn’t-already-run-in-the-Guineas rule. (Ref. Hawk Wing, 2002.)

Also, Dante winner Septimus was a shorter price than Dylan Thomas in the 2006 Derby, while Dee Stakes winner Gypsy King was Ballydoyle’s Derby number one in 2005. But that was during the Kieren Fallon era, when the British trials seemed to take on a greater significance than they had before. Chester was conquered by O’Brien during that era, and the Dante seemed to be elevated, which makes sense given that Fallon’s three Derby winners, Oath, Kris Kin and North Light, came via the Dee Stakes or the Dante.

That said, Seville did better than Master Of Hounds did when they finished second and third respectively in the Racing Post Trophy last October despite the fact that he was the lesser fancied of the two. It will be fascinating to see how he fares on Thursday.

Recital – Derby. Easy. The son of Montjeu is treading the well-worn Ballysax-Derrinstown route from Cashel to Epsom. Beaten in the Ballysax, he didn’t impress everyone in winning the Derrinstown on Sunday (possibly spawning a new Kieren Fallon era of sorts), but it was only his fourth ever race, and it was a huge step up on his Ballysax run, as was widely anticipated. Similar progress between now and 4th June can also be expected.

Chester Vase winner Treasure Beach could also line up at Epsom. You don’t normally think that an Aidan O’Brien-trained Galway nursery winner could end up in the Derby, and 2007 Chester Vase winner Soldier Of Fortune was only fifth behind Authorized at Epsom. However, he then bounced out a month later and won the Irish Derby. Interestingly, Vincent O’Brien won the Chester Vase in 1985 with Law Society, who finished second to Slip Anchor in the Epsom Derby before also going on to land the Irish version.

Roderic O’Connor will apparently miss Thursday’s Dante now, he may go for the Irish Guineas or straight to the Derby, while Zoffany (remember Zoffany, Phoenix Stakes winner, National Stakes favourite?) could start off his season in the Irish Guineas. And Master Of Hounds? Belmont Stakes.

Possible targets for the older Ballydoyle horses now are intriguing. May has been a good month so far for the elders. Await The Dawn stepped forward again when he won the Huxley Stakes at Chester on Thursday, St Nicholas Abbey grabbed the bottom of the last-chance rope when he came clear of his rivals in the Ormonde Stakes on Friday, while last Sunday at The Curragh, So You Think proved that he can do Up Here what he has been doing Down There, eliciting metaphorical gasps in the process, when he danced in in the Mooresbridge Stakes.

St Nicholas Abbey will now probably go for the Coronation Cup, according to his trainer, while Await The Dawn may go next in the Harwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. So You Think is on track for a mouth-watering clash with Workforce in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh on Guineas weekend. His price for the King George has been slashed, but surely 10 furlongs is his thing. Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Juddmonte International, Champion Stakes, Irish and English, or some combination thereof, would make more sense. A Group 2 winner over seven furlongs, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise either if he were to drop down to a mile, and wouldn’t it be great if he bumped into Frankel along the way.

All of this means that Fame And Glory can be freed up to be prepared for an Ascot Gold Cup tilt. With the middle-distance bases fairly well covered now, with Jan Vermeer and Cape Blanco also available for selection, it makes a lot of sense that Fame And Glory would try to follow in the imperious hoofprints of Yeats.

When you have finished colouring, just hand in your page.

© The Racing Post, 10th May 2011