Westover – One That Got Away?

June 6th, 2022 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there,

I’m not sure what many of us would have made of Saturday’s Derby if runner-up Hoo Ya Mal had won the race at 150/1.

One of trainer Andrew Balding’s reasons for running the colt was that he had finished second to Nations Pride and as Godolphin had seen fit to supplement that winner for the race, then logically his colt was entitled to be thereabouts if Nations Pride were to win.

With stable-companion Masekela finishing fourth this was a good result for the yard, but the one that went into everyone’s notebook was Westover, who would surely have given the winner a race had he enjoyed a clearer run.

Low draws are unfavoured in the Derby and drawn two, alongside Hoo Ya Mal in stall three, both colts can be marked up for their efforts against a winner who was in stall 12.

Yet while Hoo Ya Mal had a clear run through, Westover was staying on strongly when badly baulked two furlongs out and after trying again for a run to his left, he was switched back and right to manoeuvre around Stone Age, losing both ground and momentum.

Once clear he powered home to make up about six lengths from the furlong pole, just failing to snatch second place and beaten two and three-quarter lengths at the line. So powerfully was he finishing that he pulled up a few lengths ahead of the winner.

I cannot recall seeing many horses finish so strongly in a Derby – Troy, who won the race in 1979, would be one – and it was no wonder that his rider Rob Hornby said afterwards that he felt he could have won.

The time before at Sandown Westover had taken a while to pick up, before running green and hanging left, but as the jockey said on Saturday “the gap was moving just a little bit ahead of me.”

Had Westover been blessed with a more instant turn of foot he would probably have got through but it is evident from both Sandown and the Derby that he is a galloper with a strong finish rather than a horse with gears.

It is no surprise to see him heading the market for the Irish Derby at a general 15/8, with Stone Age and Changingoftheguard next best each at 9/2. Lionel at 10/1 and Buckaroo at 14/1 are others to note in what promises to be an absorbing contest.

As for the winner Desert Crown, I see he is evens with William Hill for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Ascot.

That may indeed be his next target but I am sure that Sir Michael Stoute will be keen to try and make the colt a Group 1 winner at ten furlongs, mindful that his stallion value would be considerably enhanced were he to become a top-class winner at the shorter trip.

Desert Crown has more than enough pace to win at ten furlongs, as he showed in the Dante.

Bye for now