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Nic Ladds 4th Jun 2009 - 11:34

Black Bear the one as Murtagh makes wrong choice again

As Derby day nears the line up is starting to take shape with the biggest news being Johnny Murtagh has taken the ride on 4/1 shot Rip Van Winkle.

Murtagh had a choice of six of Aidan O'Brien's runners and having had first choice many thought he would plump for Fame And Glory who was favourite but has now been eased to 4/1 in light of Murtagh's choice.

People have mixed opinions about Rip Van Winkle's chances, with questions over whether he will stay, if he'll handle the track and even if he is good enough.

The view is there is little doubt he is good enough and his sire Galileo should ensure he has the stamina. His relaxed running style will also be in his favour and the Dewhurst he finished well with plenty of gas left.

The fact that Murtagh has picked him may even be enough for some people and you can be sure this Ballydoyle hope will be there to put in a huge run.

The one he turned down was Fame And Glory who is 4/1 in the betting also. He comes in to the race unbeaten and has improved every time he has stepped on to a racecourse.

His breeding suggests he will get the distance and the only possible negatives are the times he has run in some of his races but this could improve for the step up in trip.

It is always incredibly hard to know who Ballydoyle's star colt is and although Johnny Murtagh picked Rip Van Winkle, it could be Seamie Heffernan who has the plum ride in the Investec Derby.

The other rides on O'Brien's plethora of runners will be taken by Richard Hughes who is on 14/1 chance Masterofthehorse, Pat Smullen will get the leg up on Age Of Aquarius who is available at odds of 20/1, Colm O'Donoghue rides 40/1 shot Golden Sword and most interestingly Ryan Moore will be on board Black Bear Island who looks the best of the other four at odds of 17/2.

Murtagh made the mistake of rejecting the ride on Black Bear Island in the Dante where he so impressively came right from the back to edge our Freemantle over 2f shorter than his ideal distance and it could be that the Derby distance will bring out the best in him.

While Black Bear Island's form may not be as good as the likes of Fame And Glory the lightening fast time of his Dante run pales that possible problem in to the background.

He looks the perfect candidate for the Derby and as long as he's not too far back rounding the final bend you could quite easily see Black Bear Island rattling home at least first of the O'Brien runners if not of the whole race at a tasty price.

Now we've waded through the Ballydoyle army, let's not forget about the 11/4 favourite, Sea The Stars.

John Oxx's colt could not have been more impressive when winning the 1000 Guineas and certainly has looked the most promising 3-year-old this season.

Whether he will stay the trip or not is a bit of an unknown but he does have stamina in his family to suggest that he will give it a good go.

It is not too often that a horse completes the Guineas/Derby double and you can be sure there will be plenty of punters who think Sea The Stars is going to add himself to that illustrious list.

Gan Amhras is the other colt near the top of the betting priced at 15/2. Jim Bolger, who won this race last year and the Guineas third Gan Amhras will sure to stay, despite perhaps not having the speed of some of his rivals -  a big run is expected.

Brian Meehan's Crowded House is the shortest priced British-trained Derby contender at 25/1.

The other four to complete the line up are Godolphin's Kite Wood at 25/1, South Easter who is 40/1, Lingfield Derby trial second Montaff lines up at odds of 50/1 while John Gosden's Debussy is the 66/1 outsider of the field.

Sea The Stars and Gan Amhras are going to do their best to hold off the Ballydoyle cavalry charge but the feeling is one of O'Brien's fleet could provide the trainer with his third win in the race.

Out of his six, the selection is Black Bear Island who is a cracking price at 17/2, should love the step up in distance and you can see him rattling home to collar Gan Amhras in the final few strides of what should be an absolute cracker which is not to be missed at 3.45 on BBC1.

Also don't forget about our Best Odds Guaranteed promise and that it is currently non-runner money back on your selection for the Derby, so if you back a horse and it ends up not running your stake is returned to you.

Recommendation:
Black Bear Island - 17/2

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