herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Track Talk

It's hard to believe that with just a week and a half to go to the most important race on the calendar for outfits as powerful as Ballydoyle and Coolmore that we are none the wiser about their representation.

The Coolmore powers have won the Epsom Derby for the last four years, with Pour Moi starting the recent dominance and Aidan O'Brien continuing by winning the 1m4f Classic for the last three years.

Preparation for this years race haven't gone according to plan. Despite having eight horses of the top 10 in the betting at the turn of the year, Ballydoyle now have two colts that look definite runners, Hans Holbein is backable at 12/1 and you can shop around for 20/1 about Kilimanjaro.

Gleneagles is only 4/1 with the handful of firms pricing him up, but aside from standing in the middle of O'Connell Street in his birthday suit with a big sign saying 'Gleneagles is a miler', Aidan O'Brien could hardly have done any more after Saturday's Irish Guineas triumph to stress that he didn't think the son of Galileo would be suited by the extra four-furlongs of the Epsom Derby and that Royal Ascot is firmly top of the agenda for the horse described as the best miler ever to reside in Ballydoyle under O'Brien's watch.

O'Brien or the Coolmore powers are not trying to hide anything from us, the only thing hiding here is a Derby horse and for this year it simply appears that they don't have one. Maybe that is unacceptable for such an operation or maybe, having won it for the last three years, it is just one of those years and it has to be accepted.

Running Gleneagles or even the filly Found in the race would be testament to how desperately they want to win it. With either, they have little to lose.

Gleneagles' value at stud wouldn't be tarnished if he wins all around him this year at a mile and just fails once over a mile and a half, but as O'Brien said at the weekend Royal Ascot would probably be skipped if he does appear at Epsom.

Found would miss out on the Oaks, but on what we've seen, would she beat Legatissimo anyway?

It's not the Derby build- up we expected but it's just as interesting to see it develop.

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