What a brilliant day for Frankie. I did not believe Emily Upjohn could do that although less surprised at Soul Sister’s Oaks’ victory. I was, however, reminded by John Gosden’s post-race interview as to why I find him so irritating. I hope Frankie has a great day on Saturday, but I’m also hoping that Gosden will manage to issue a positive statement that doesn’t have a clarifying phrase, such as “on his day” or “when his luck is in”. Frankie is a genius. Gosden is a good trainer.
Talking of genius, off to the Cinema to see a biopic of Noel Coward, “Mad About The Boy”. It was kind to the old boy and, in the main interesting, but we had a Q&A after, where various bods suggested that Noel was a fashion icon, apart from being a total workaholic who would never admit to such a thing, as well as being a social forgery. This stemmed from his upbringing in genteel poverty and not attending school. The fashion icon suggestion seemed to creep in based on some strange uncovered Pathe footage where everyone wanted to look like The Master. This rather seemed to forget that anyone who was remotely interesting and exciting and who could take civilian minds off WW1, the Depression, the rise of Fascism, the growth of Communism and then later WW2 and more belt-tightening was indeed a fashion icon. The Prince of Wales (pre-abdication). Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Freed Astaire. Then later, Buddy Holly, Gene Kelly, Arthur Miller, David Niven, Errol Flynn, Dean Martin. The list is finite but isn’t really driven by Noel Coward, who was better known for his Britishness to the USA and arrogant wit in the UK. He died when he was 73, a few days before the great theatrical producer, homosexual and casting couch talent spotter Binkie Beaumont: two very different talents but only one everlasting legacy.
Time is agin me, so I have done the research and written up the Derby – the rest, you’ll have to go with the flow.
12:50 EPSOM Betfred Diomed Stakes (G3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m½f 6 run
ESCOBAR will find this too tactical and isn’t up to this class. Back him in a handicap with 16+ runners later this season. HIGHLAND AVENUE did sterling duty in the Gordon Richards LTO, acting as a pacemaker for stablemate Adayer. He’d been off for 14 months and only lost second place in the dying strides. He’s good enough for this class in his own right and he’ll strip fitter
HIGHLAND AVENUE 4 pts Win
1:30 EPSOM Betfred Derby (G1) (No Geldings) Cl1 (3yo) 1m4f 14 run
A combination of weather leading to going issues, leading to young developing bodies struggling to find their stride, leading to some muddled paces; these are not, I fear, going to produce a vintage year. A year when we gasp because we have seen the controlled power, speed and character of an extraordinary future leading Stallion. However, if AOB is to be believed, then it is still possible that Deep Impact’s boy AUGUSTE RODIN could blow us clean away as the ground dries out and his past is put behind him. But that assumes he’ll handle the ground – that his “pleasing” work at home has shown the maestro all he needs to be filled with confidence. But WE don’t know. We can take various form lines, and they might suggest he might be no more than a length ahead of The Foxes – but we don’t know. On the other hand, what don’t we know about MILITARY ORDER? We know he stays, having beaten WAIPIRO by 1¼l at Lingfield over the distance. We know he’ll handle the ground, he has the same mark as the favourite, and he is “uncomplicated” according to connections. I was thrilled to get the price I did by taking the gamble that PASSENGER would be supplemented – but I later heard a rumour that suggested the absent Derby entry was because PASSENGER’s development had taken Stoutey by surprise. His Dante run was a shambles, and many view his running as suggesting he is better than the Dante winner. ARREST powered away to win the Chester Vase over the distance in mud, and AOB will know to the inch where he stands via ADELAIDE RIVER, who was 2nd beaten 6½l. Frankie’s last Derby ride – unless he retires like Frank Sinatra – has a very high knee action and I don’t think – and nor does John Gosden – that ARREST will like this drying ground. He and SPREWELL are both on the same mark, and the latter won a G3 at Leopardstown convincingly. Still, again we have to assume that Jessica Harrington’s colt will handle this increasingly faster ground. His breeding says Yes; the result will tell us. He shares the same sire, Churchill, as THE FOXES. Andrew Balding had him in all the pre-season reviews as being targeted for The Dante – but in the end, the first five in The Dante are covered by 2½l. PASSENGER’s traffic issues were a problem, but the question remains as to whether the Dante was a decent Derby trial this year. THE FOXES ability to handle the ground is not an issue – his overall ability is the issue. DUBAI MILE finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas, having beaten ARREST by a head in the 1m 2f Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud last October, but his current bloodlines suggest 10f rather than 12f – albeit that the Guineas is a decent trial and the form of this years has been solid. Various form lines suggest that Dante runner-up WHITE BIRCH is shy of SPREWELL by a couple of lengths, further implying that SPREWELL beats the rest of the Dante field. WAIPIRO is improving and might reverse the placings with MILITARY ORDER, but it depends entirely on his cornering. He might prefer to take Frankie’s route taken twice today in his G1 victories, which was to stay out of trouble, maintain a decent position for Tatts and then springboard off down the middle. I mentioned MAMAN JOON to you yesterday, and you might want to consider KING OF STEEL, Amo Racing’s Derby horse. I was there when Shaamit won The Derby on his seasonal debut in 1996, so I know it can happen. ADELAIDE RIVER is well held by DUBAI MILE and ARREST, while COVENT GARDEN was beaten 16 lengths by DUBAI MILE in France last October.
WAIPIRO 1½ pts e/w – SPREWELL 3 pts e/w – KING OF STEEL 30/1 for 6 places with Bet365 1 pt e/w
2:10 EPSOM Princess Elizabeth Stakes (G3) (Fillies & Mares) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m½f 6 run
PROSPEROUS VOYAGE 4 pts Win – ROMAN MIST 2 pts e/w
2:45 EPSOM Aston Martin 3YO “Dash” Hcap Cl3 (3yo 0-90) 5f 14 run
ESTATE 3 pts Win – TATTERSTALL 2 pts e/w
3:20 EPSOM Aston Martin “Dash” Hcap (Heritage Hcap) Cl2 (3yo+) 5f 20 run
I have narrowed this down to four: ANCIENT TIMES – VINTAGE CLARETS – RECON MISSION – SILKY WILKIE
VINTAGE CLARETS 3 pts e/w – RECON MISSION 2½ pts e/w 6 places generally available
3:55 EPSOM Betfred Lester Piggott Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-100) 1m2f 14 run
LOSE YOUR WAD – FORCA TIMAO 2 pts e/w both
4:30 EPSOM Rio Ferdinand Foundation Northern Dancer Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 1m4f 9 run
CAIUS CHORISTER 5 pts Win – HALIPHON 2 pts e/w
5:05 EPSOM JRA Tokyo Trophy Hcap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-105) 6f 14 run
NIGHT ON EARTH 4 pts e/w