Support for Joseph O’Brien lesser lights in Epsom Derby

Two of the Ballydoyle entries for Saturday’s Epsom Derby attracted considerable support with bookmakers yesterday.
Support for Joseph O’Brien lesser lights in Epsom Derby

Betfair Spokesman Barry Orr commented: “There has been sustained support for two Ballydoyle Derby entries today and neither was US Army Ranger.

“We had to trim Deauville from 10/1 to 8/1 and Idaho From 20/1 to 14/1 following some significant wagers and pushed US Army Ranger out to 9-2 from 7-2.

“In fact US Army Ranger is absolutely friendless, especially on the Exchange, and the recent rain must be an issue’’

Meanwhile Harzand, who is proven when there is plenty of cut in the ground, has been well supported.

The Dermot Weld-trained winner of the Ballysax Stakes was cut to 16-1 from 20s with Ladbrokes, while Idaho and Ed Dunlop’s supplementary entry Red Verdon were trimmed to 20-1 from 25s.

“An already wide-open looking Classic market has been complicated by the rain,” said Ladbrokes’ David Williams.

“Punters are looking well beyond the favourites as they try to identify the each-way value.”

Four-time Epsom Derby winning jockey Willie Carson has nailed his colours to the mast of French raider Cloth Of Stars ahead of Saturday’s renewal.

Andre Fabre’s son of 2009 race winner Sea The Stars has won both of his starts this season and arrives at the London track less than two weeks after he had a half-speed piece of work around its undulations.

He was one of a number to check it out at the ‘Breakfast with the Stars’ event, accompanied by Mickael Barzalona who flew over from France especially for the occasion.

Many observers were impressed with how Cloth Of Stars handled it nimbly– and although Carson has not seen him in the flesh, he is convinced he has all the attributes for a trainer who won in 2011 with Pour Moi.

“Andre Fabre bringing him over for the Breakfast with the Stars event and running him in the Derby after being supplemented means he is of the opinion he will win,” said Carson.

“This year we have had all the trials and no horse has won by a long way to stamp its authority on the race.

“There are a lot of horses with potential. Frankie’s horse (Dettori, Wings Of Desire) has also been supplemented although it was thought he wasn’t good enough initially because he was taken out at an earlier stage.

“Now that he has won one of the best trials in the Dante it propels him forward with a chance of winning.

“You have got Sheikh Hamdan’s horse Massaat, the 2,000 Guineas runner-up and the owner is going for his third Derby. He would have an obvious chance if he stays a mile and a half– and he’d be a much shorter price if he was trained by Aidan O’Brien.

“Then there are the maiden winners taking their chance.

“The Derby does come a little bit too soon for middle distance horses to be at their best. Horses bred for a mile and a half mature a lot slower than sprinters and milers.”

Epsom Derby – Betfair Bet: 7-2 Wings Of Desire, 9-2 US Army Ranger, 13-2 Cloth Of Stars, 7-1 Ulysses, 8-1 Deauville, 12-1 Massaat, Moonlight Magic, Port Douglas, 14-1 Idaho, 16-1 Harzand, 20-1 Red Verdon, Shogun, 25-1 Across The Stars, Humphrey Bogart, 33-1 Algometer, Beacon rock, Bravery, 100-1 Biodynamic.

Ground conditions at Epsom eased to good to soft, soft in places yesterday afternoon following 20 millimetres of rain.

While the amount was more than had been forecast, predominantly drier weather is set to prevail ahead of the two-day Investec Derby Festival that starts on Friday.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper expects the course will dry out slowly over the next few days.

“We were told we’d probably get five to 10 millimetres or rain, but that it could be more, and we ended up with about 20mm from about eight o’clock this morning to about two o’clock this afternoon,” he said.

“I walked it this afternoon and good to soft, soft places was as far as it had eased.

“The main theme is for it to be dry but cloudy and overcast for the next couple of days, possibly with some light showers in the mix. It’s not a completely clear outlook.

“There could be showers around at lunchtime tomorrow and bits and pieces on Thursday maybe as well. It’s not guaranteed to stay dry, but the bulk of the days will be dry and overcast.

“There won’t be rapid drying conditions, but it will dry and settle a bit more all the time.

“This is probably as soft as it will get. The week will see an improvement, albeit a relatively slow one.

“I think we will be heading back towards good as the week goes on.”

Meanwhile Joseph O’Brien could have his first runners on Monday if, as expected, he is granted a training licence by the end of the week.

The dual Irish champion jockey has a meeting on Friday with the licence committee of the Turf Club, who are expected to rubber stamp his application as O’Brien has already fulfilled the other necessary obligations.

Should that go through without a hitch, then the 23-year-old son of multiple champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, would be allowed to have horses run in his name on Monday with race meetings scheduled for Gowran Park and Listowel.

“He will come up to licensing committee on Friday. They will interview him and I imagine they will sanction his licence,” said Turf Club press officer Cliff Noone.

“They have already inspected his premises and they were found to be in perfect shape.

The final step is him getting his licence and I would think that would be Friday afternoon.

“Obviously he can’t declare horses on Friday, but he would have it so that he could

declare horses on Sunday for Monday. I’m 100 per cent sure his licence will be sanctioned on Friday afternoon. It’s just a case of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox