By Thomas Reynolds
Last Updated: 21st May 2019
Aidan O’Brien has added to the confusion surrounding the potential participation of ante-post Epsom Derby betting favourite Sir Dragonet, with the curveball that the Chester Vase winner could take in the French version instead.
Currently 3/1 favourite in the betting for the Epsom Derby, any decision on which race Sir Dragonet will be aimed at will be reportedly only be made on the 27th May deadline.
However, while it would be remiss to doubt the wisdom of the unparalleled master trainer of recent times in the UK and Ireland, the English Classic has to be the right choice, surely? Here’s why.
Why Epsom is the right choice for Derby betting 2019 favourite Sir Dragonet
Both of Sir Dragonet’s two runs to date have come over an extended 1m4f, making the step back to 1m2f in the Prix du Jockey Club, as the French Derby is known, something of an imponderable.
True, being by Guineas winner Camelot out of a mare by Group 1-winning sprinter Oasis Dream, it’s unlikely he’ll lack the toe for the shorter trip.
Nonetheless, there’s only one Epsom Derby and it’s contested over a similar distance to the one which saw him dynamite his Chester Vase foes for an eight-length success on the Roodee over 1m4f in May.
With plenty of chances for a stud-fee enhancing score over 2f shorter later in the campaign – including the Eclipse, for which he already holds an entry – surely it makes more sense to bid for a Classic over a distance at which he’s already proven comfortable.
Winning with such aplomb at Chester suggests that, while far more lightly raced than many of those he may face at Epsom, Sir Dragonet already has the composure to deal with a sharp track.
The Chester Vase’s near-constantly turning 1m4f demands excellent balance from a colt, which will serve as ideal experience to have in the locker before taking on the notorious rollercoaster undulations of the Downs track and one the majority of his foes won’t have.
It’s also a race that matches the Dante for runners going on to contest the Classic over the last seven years, with four of Aidan O’Brien’s last 11 runners in it either winning or finishing second in the Derby.
In winning the Vase, Sir Dragonet earned himself a Racing Post Rating of 117. That mark is exceeded by only two horses currently in the Derby entry list, stablemate Anthony Van Dyck (118) and last year’s champion juvenile Too Darn Hot (126), who has been ruled out of the race.
Also on an RPR of 117 are Broome and Dante winner Telecaster (who still needs to be supplemented), but unlike either of them, or indeed the aforementioned Ballydoyle rival, Sir Dragonet has raced just twice, meaning his potential for improvement should be sky high.
Telecaster is also really unexposed, having ran just once more than Sir Dragonet, but he’s already been involved in some collateral form which suggests he may struggle to best the favourite.
On debut Hughie Morrison’s colt was beaten by Bangkok, who now has an RPR of 108, with the Andrew Balding charge going on to win his next outing in the Classic Trial at Sandown, when beating Technician by a length and a quarter.
Next time out Technician trailed home 14 lengths in arrears of Sir Dragonet in the Chester Vase.
With the O’Brien colt’s form already considered on a par with any of those he may face at Epsom and the scope to improve past his rivals in terms of experience, the Derby looks well within his compass.