After a busy few weeks, it was great to catch up with Mick again, ahead of the Investec Derby Festival. As we started talking about the festival Mick informs me it has always been the place to be seen, and the slightly pretentious atmosphere has made people boast about going. He said what a superb meeting it is, whilst the ceremony and atmosphere that comes with it creates a great sporting occasion.
The first race we discuss is the Investec Coronation Cup, and Mick goes onto say there are times in racing when we have to forget about the betting and just celebrate a good horse, and that is what CRACKSMAN is! He was only a baby when he came 3rd in the Derby, particularly impressive with it being his 3rd ever run. Whilst he lacked experience back then, we have since seen him progress through the year and have a great winning on Champions day at Ascot, followed by an expected to win at Longchamp, though he didn’t just win he bolted up! Mick expresses how he really wants to see Cracksman win, and win well. The worry with this race is the ground, as the recent thunderstorms have meant the ground is soft, and with the forecast it’s likely to stay this way. However, for him this is not a problem, he has good form on soft ground from both his last winners. IDAHO also has form on soft, but they have said he is better on quick ground. Then the other competition I ask about is of course, HAWKBILL. Mick tells me he also has won on soft ground at Sandown so this won’t be a problem for him. He says Frankie would be very silly to let HAWKBILL take advantage, as if he takes the lead he can be a hard nut to crack.
Next we move onto the Investec Oaks, which is currently a guessing game for runners, with Aidan looking at having a potential eight runners! Again we look at horses who have great form on soft ground. Mick states he really likes Clive Coxs horse PERFECT CLARITY. She put in a really good performance in her Oaks trial at Lingfield, although this was on quick ground so the soft is unknown. She handled both the bend and hill well and considering that was only her second ever run, she had a superb time. The favourite is WILD ILLUSION who had a great run in the Guineas, and when she won in Chantilly in October it was on soft ground so she will handle the cut.
Finally we look at the Investec Derby, where Mick first mentions SAXON WARRIOR, and says what a breakthrough winning the Guineas was for Donnacha. It must of been a great day for the whole family and for his son to win the Guineas for him. Mick tells me many people say he is a Derby horse, and he ticks all the boxes, handling soft ground and putting on really good performances. We then discuss HAZAPOUR, where Mick comments it’s a real positive Frankie rides, as he has a vast experience round Epsom, and in the absence of Pat Smullen he thinks Frankie is the best man for him. We have seen this reflected in the betting and he is now 3rd favourite, plus Mick says it would be nice to see Dermot do it again. Mick was at York when ROARING LION won, working for ITV. He said he was so impressed with his run and when he was very narrowly beaten by SAXON WARRIOR in the Guineas, and he thinks Oisin has obviously put him forward and feels they should of won that day.
What Mick feels will be the challenges of the race, is not just the hill and the bend but the huge crowds and noise that come with the day. Mick follows on by looking at what he thinks is a cracking each way bet, KNIGHT TO BEHOLD, a horse trained by Harry Dunlop, a local for Mick. He says it would be great to see a local trainer win and he thinks he could cope with the soft ground well. Finally we look at YOUNG RASCAL a horse with a bit of a story, owned by the head of Investec, Mick was impressed with his run at Chester and he feels he learnt alot from it. Also Mick points out William is a Derby winning trainer and is very selective with his Derby runners, this only being his fourth, which Mick says speaks volumes and it would be great for James Doyle who Micks believes is incredibly talented. He concludes by saying it’s not all about SAXON WARRIOR and there is plenty that need serious consideration.
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