Turf Talk: Madhmoon out to avenge Derby defeat at the Curragh
Madhmoon can avenge his Epsom Derby defeat at the hands of Anthony Van Dyck as the Curragh supplies the class in a hugely competitive Saturday racing programme.
Many eyes will turn to the north-east, of course, and the potential minefield betting conundrum of what was historically coined the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’ as the Betfair Exchange Northumberland Plate Handicap takes centre stage at Newcastle.
But the equine blue bloods are gathered at the Curragh as more than half the eight-strong field for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby comprises those re-convening from Epsom.
Anthony Van Dyck is very likely to head the market as he bids to complete a famous Classic double and confirm himself top of the Ballydoyle quintet numerically dominating the Curragh contenders.
Of the five who reoppose from Epsom, four hail from Aidan O’Brien’s powerhouse yard – but it was Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon who was marginally closest to Anthony Van Dyck at the start of the month.
Runner-up that day in a five-horse blanket finish which hardly invited conclusive evidence of long-term superiority, Madhmoon was just outspeeded by the winner a furlong out before staying on again better than many had predicted to the line.
He also stumbled half a mile from home, so had to use up precious extra energy at a critical stage.
As long as forecast showers do not turn the ground against him, Madhmoon has sound prospects of overturning the favourite.
The same can be said of Alan King’s Who Dares Wins, in the choppiest of handicap waters at Newcastle.
This year’s edition of the Northumberland Plate looks right up to scratch as a traditional jigsaw puzzle of contrasting form lines.
There is reason to tread carefully with the gamble which has surrounded Gibbs Hill this week, and forced Roger Varian’s lightly-raced grey into cramped odds.
It is not difficult to see why the whispers have got ever louder, and captured the imagination, as a surge of support gathers for a lightly-raced six-year-old with a persuasive win record.
But Gibbs Hill must defy an absence of more than 700 days.
Who Dares Wins carries no such health warning, having run well on both his starts this season and previously won in his youth on the same surface at Wolverhampton.
His trainer is, of course, increasingly adept in this sphere too.
In the preceding Betfair Exchange Northumberland Vase Handicap, doughty stayer Carnwennan catches the eye.
Charlie Fellowes’ gelding did especially well to overcome the relative speed test of Chelmsford last time, needing every yard of the two miles to get on top.
Over just half a furlong further here, the stiffer track will play to his strengths.
Laugh A Minute can also put punters in good spirits in the Betfair Exchange Chipchase Stakes.
Varian’s four-year-old has been highly consistent since he was gelded 12 months ago, and may be ready to strike at Group level.
He has almost five lengths to find with Invincible Army on last year’s form, but receives 5lb from the likely favourite here and could still be progressive.
Invincible Army’s trainer James Tate may have more luck with New Graduate in Windsor’s Listed Gentingbet Midsummer Stakes.
Like his stablemate, New Graduate failed to meet high expectations at Royal Ascot but is back quickly having been stuck on the wrong side of the track last week.
On a decent card at Newmarket, Summer Romance looks a worthy favourite in the opening Randox Health Empress Fillies’ Stakes - and Limato is still a force to be reckoned with when conditions are right, so should be tough to beat in Randox Health Criterion Stakes.
CHESTER:2.00 Puerto Banus, 2.35 Broken Spear, 3.10 Mawakib, 3.45 Sermon, 4.20 Cape Islay, 4.55 Noble Behest, 5.30 Upstaging.
CURRAGH:1.45 Cityman, 2.20 Flash Gordon, 2.55 Cnoc An Oir, 3.30 Georgeville, 4.05 Jassaar, 4.40 Monarch Of Egypt, 5.20 MADHMOON (NAP), 6.00 Jake Peter.
DONCASTER:5.25 Envisaging, 5.55 Dancing Feet, 6.30 Crantock Bay, 7.00 Abate, 7.30 Equiano Springs, 8.00 Albert Boy, 8.30 Classified.
LINGFIELD:5.45 Fearlessly, 6.15 X Force, 6.45 Spanish Star, 7.15 Inspired Thought, 7.45 Shyarch, 8.15 Crochet, 8.45 Stand Firm.
NEWCASTLE:1.50 Cosmic Law, 2.25 Laugh A Minute (treble), 3.00 Carnwennan, 3.35 Who Dares Wins (next best), 4.10 Snookered, 4.45 Aysar, 5.15 Mubhij, 5.50 Thaayer.
NEWMARKET:2.05 Summer Romance, 2.40 Ursa Minor, 3.15 Limato, 3.50 Barsanti, 4.25 Manorah, 5.00 Cornborough, 5.35 Pure Shores.
WINDSOR:1.40 Homespin, 2.15 Big Kitten, 2.50 Khafooq, 3.25 New Graduate, 4.00 Last Surprise, 4.35 Kodiac Harbour, 5.10 Crystal Tiara.
YORK:2.10 Mischief Star, 2.45 Sir Maximilian, 3.20 Humble Gratitude, 3.55 Trautmann, 4.30 Mubtasimah, 5.05 Rosina, 5.40 Pirate King.