Jan’s the man for Derby punters

JAN VERMEER has been the subject of an almighty gamble for Saturday’s Investec Derby.

Largely unconsidered until his sparkling reappearance in the Gallinule Stakes, he is now as short as 13-8 with Victor Chandler.

However, the news is not so good for followers of St Nicholas Abbey.

Having been usurped at the head of the market last week, he can now be backed at more than double the price he was during the winter with high-street bookmakers.

And the story on the exchanges is even worse for St Nicholas Abbey backers because at 3pm yesterday he was available to back at double figure prices, albeit to small stakes.

Jan Vermeer is 7-4 from 5-2 with Sky Bet who have St Nicholas Abbey at 4-1.

“Johnny Murtagh is keeping us waiting with regards a decision on his Derby mount, but the market vibes are pointing strongly to Jan Vermeer after further significant support,” said Sky Bet’s Matt Doyle.

William Hill report that St Nicholas Abbey is friendless in the days before the Classic and they replicate Sky Bet’s prices.

“Punters want one horse and that horse is Jan Vermeer,” said David Hood of the Leeds-based firm.

“As a consequence, there is not a copper coin for St Nicholas Abbey and the signs look ominous now that he may not even be a runner at Epsom.”

Coral have Jan Vermeer at 2-1 with St Nicholas Abbey at 7-2.

“Aidan O’Brien may have four leading contenders in the Derby betting, but punters only want to know one horse, and the support for Jan Vermeer suggests we may not have to worry about the ante-post liabilities on St Nicholas Abbey,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

Epsom’s official betting partner totesport were forced to cut Jan Vermeer even further and their 9-4 has now shortened to 7-4.

“As far as Aidan O’Brien’s runners are concerned, there’s only one horse that punters are interested in and that’s Jan Vermeer,’ said totesport spokesman George Primarolo.

“Conversely, we’ve only taken a handful of bets on St Nicholas Abbey this afternoon and confidence over his chances is dwindling by the day.”

Meanwhile Godolphin swelled the £1.25 million (€1.5m) Investec Derby prize-money fund to the tune of another £150,000 (€177,000) yesterday after supplementing both Rewilding and Buzzword for Saturday’s premier Classic at Epsom.

Sheikh Mohammed’s operation stated Rewilding would be added to the field after he impressively won the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.

The last horse to win that event, formerly known as the Predominate Stakes, and then go on to Derby glory was Troy in 1979.

However, Godolphin also produced a surprise by adding the Mahmood Al Zarooni stablemate Buzzword, last seen finishing fourth in the French 2000 Guineas.

The move was made after the Pivotal colt, who finished fifth in the Dewhurst last season, completed a very pleasing piece of work.

Al Zir will also run, representing Saeed bin Suroor.

“We have decided to enter Buzzword in the Investec Derby after he worked nicely at the weekend,” racing manager Simon Crisford said.

“We have wanted to try him over a longer trip ever since he stayed on so well in the French 2,000 Guineas. His work was strong and this has prompted us to go for the Derby.

“We continue to be delighted with Rewilding and also have Al Zir in the Derby. Riding plans will be announced within the next 24 hours.”

O’Brien left in six of his entrants, led by Jan Vermeer.

Dante winner Cape Blanco, St Nicholas Abbey, Derrinstown Derby Trial winner Midas Touch and a couple of likely pacemakers, At First Sight and Bright Horizon, also represent Ballydoyle.

Henry Cecil goes in search of a fifth Derby with Bullet Train, impressive when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial.

In the same Prince Khalid Abdullah ownership is Michael Stoute’s Workforce, trying to break a statistic that says no horse ever beaten in the Dante Stakes has won the Derby. Michael Bell’s Coordinated Cut falls into the same bracket.

John Gosden’s Dee Stakes victor Azmeel and the Mark Tompkins-trained Ted Spread are other trial winners going forward.

Michael Jarvis’ Hot Prospect completes the 15 possibles.

Investec Derby Totesport bet: 9-4 Jan Vermeer, 4-1 St Nicholas Abbey, 7-1 Bullet Train, Midas Touch, 15-2 Workforce, 9-1 Cape Blanco, 12-1 Rewilding, 14-1 Azmeel, 25-1 Coordinated Cut, 33-1 Al Zir, Ted Spread, 50-1 Buzzword, 66-1 Hot Prospect, 100-1 At First Sight, 150-1 Bright Horizon.

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