The Derby Retrospective

June 4th, 2018 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

Ok – I readily admit that I got the Derby totally wrong this year.

It’s a race that has served me well over the last four decades or so, but to my cost I never gave the winner Masar more than a passing thought.

For some reason I, like many others, took the view he would not stay the trip. I did, for a moment or two, think beforehand that he was overpriced at 16/1 on the strength of his top-class form, but his overall profile, which included a 41-lengths’ defeat at Meydan in March, did not conform to a potential Derby-winning formula by any stretch of the imagination.

As for his pedigree, he is by Derby winner New Approach out of a mare that won the UAE Derby over an extended nine furlongs from the family of Sea The Stars and Galileo. With the benefit of hindsight there was enough stamina in both the top and bottom of that page to raise hopes he would stay the trip.

It was more his style of racing that raised the doubts. In the 2,000 Guineas he looked more like a miler, forfeiting second place close home to the outsider Tip Two Win. Then there was the length and three-quarters he had to find with the winner Saxon Warrior who, it was generally believed, was the more likely stayer of the two.

Close examination of the Derby footage reveals that it was a rough race. It is to the credit of Aidan O’Brien and his team that they made no mention – to the best of my knowledge – of the interference Saxon Warrior sustained about two furlongs from home.

In fairness he was not going all that well from flagfall, losing about two lengths from his draw in stall one and never travelling fluently from that point. Sixth on the descent round Tattenham Corner, he was unbalanced in the straight then squeezed by Masar and Dee Ex Bee as Ryan Moore tried to make a forward move. He never really recovered his balance although he was staying on quite well at the finish to come home in fourth.

To my eyes he stayed the trip well but was caught out by his inexperience. I expect him to be kept to a mile and a half for the time being, with a four-year-old career more than likely given his immaturity.

For me Roaring Lion stayed the trip and had every chance. John Gosden is talking about dropping down for the Coral-Eclipse, which may suit him better, but the colt who could most benefit from a drop to a mile and a quarter is Hazapour. Given a superb ride by Frankie Dettori, he was ideally poised in fourth on the turn for home and displayed a discernible turn of foot to go clear two furlongs out before his stamina gave way. He was not punished once beaten and can win at Group 1 level over a mile and a quarter.

Of the others my selection Young Rascal was outpaced through. I await news of his wellbeing because despite plugging on to finish seventh a line through his Chester Vase form with Dee Ex Bee suggests that he should have finished much closer. Perhaps the ground had dried up a little too much for him, but it’s possible he wasn’t quite at his best.

Of the others let’s keep Delano Roosevelt in mind for the St Leger. His distaff side does not have great resources of stamina, but I like the way he plugged on at the finish. A big imposing colt, he could make up into a Cup horse in time.

I said after the 2,000 Guineas that the 2018 crop of three-year-olds may not be anything special and the Derby result has confirmed that view.

The evidence to date suggests there is not more than a pound or two between the top few colts.

Bye for now