Take a chance on Hans in a non-vintage renewal

There we were all ready to put up Dermot Weld’s Zawraq as the most likely winner of this afternoon’s Investec Derby at Epsom and the horse goes and suffers a setback.

Take a chance on Hans in a non-vintage renewal

Weld has enjoyed success all over the world, but the Derby is really not his race and has to begin to wonder if he is actually destined to never win it.

A year ago his potentially brilliant Free Eagle was a live candidate, but injury forced him to miss the contest as well. That lightning should strike twice is obviously most disappointing.

So, who is the most likely winner? Well, first of all one’s overwhelming feeling is that this is a long way short of being a vintage renewal.

But then you look back at previous runnings and, realistically, it is only occasionally that it throws up a Galileo or Sea The Stars.

In any case Coolmore is after a fifth successive win in the Derby. Pour Moi scored for them, trained by Andre Fabre, in 2011 and Aidan O’Brien has won the race over the last three years for the organisation with Australia, Ruler Of The World and Camelot.

O’Brien tosses three darts at the prize on this occasion and, not so long ago, we wouldn’t haven’t given any of them a prayer. Now I’m not so sure.

I mean, for instance, is John Gosden’s Golden Horn entitled to be such a warm favourite, even if unbeaten in all three of his outings?

He was, admittedly, very good in the Dante at York, comfortably beating arguably two of his main rivals today, Jack Hobbs and Elm Park.

But there are those who have forgotten more about breeding than I will ever know who question his ability to stay a mile and a half and that has to at least be a concern.

I think we would all love to see the relatively small Ken Condon yard winning with the supplemented Success Days, but the more the surface dries out the less likely that is to happen. Success Days is just a confirmed mud lark and even ground on the easy side mightn’t be soft enough for him.

Looking at the three O’Brien candidates I cannot warm to Kilimanjaro, who doesn’t look at all good enough.

I had O’Brien’s Giovanni Canaletto pencilled in as a possible winner after he won his maiden last season in great style at Leopardstown, but have gone very cold on him in the meantime.

He had to miss Chester and only reappeared 13 days ago in the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh, when beaten into second by the filly, Curvy.

To my eyes, he carried his head rather high and did not look an easy ride, although the fact is the choice of the canny Ryan Moore has to be respected.

Anyway, I propose putting forward the apparently number three O’Brien choice, Hans Holbein, as a possibility each-way. If there is a Galileo or a Sea The Stars in here then he hasn’t a prayer.

If the field contains an Australia, Ruler Of The World or a Camelot then he won’t win either.

What Hans Holbein brings to the table, however, is a good attitude and a guarantee that he will stay every yard of the 12 furlongs.

He won the Chester Vase last time, beating Storm The Stars, who went on to take a Listed event at Goodwood.

Any rain that falls will be no hindrance to Hans Holbein and, at reasonably big odds, what have we got to lose?


You’d have to love what Eddie Lynam’s Anthem Alexander achieved at Naas on Monday.

If anyone knows how to train top-class sprinters it is Lynam, and this daughter of the very fast Starspangledbanner shapes as another gem for the man.

She was a seriously good juvenile, taking the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, beating Tiggy Wiggy, and finishing her campaign with a creditable second to Tiggy Wiggy in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Fast ground, however, seemed essential and, with the rain that fell at Naas, it would have been no surprise had Lynam withdrawn her from the Group 3 six furlongs heat.

But Royal Ascot is literally just around the corner and Lynam obviously felt he had to get a run into Anthem Alexander.

Given kid-glove treatment by Pat Smullen, she came from behind to easily beat the race-fit pair, The Happy Prince and the enigmatic Toscanini.

Her target now will surely be the newly inaugurated Group 1 six furlongs Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

It does shape as a hot race, market headed by Henry Candy’s Limato, but that said the 8-1, and a little 10s, about Anthem Alexander this week was more than fair.


Talk about looking in the wrong direction! At Navan last Saturday, Aidan O’Brien ran two in a ten furlongs maiden, Cenotaph (Joseph O’Brien), arguably the form horse, and the Galileo newcomer, Outspoken (Donnacha O’Brien).

Cenotaph proved relatively easy to back, with Outspoken a strong order. Cenotaph, who has a Commonwealth Cup entry, tried to make all and died a thousand deaths in the straight.

In contrast, Outspoken only warmed up through the final two furlongs and won going away in real style. Hard old game or what!

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