Sunday, June 26, 2011

Talking horses

Carlton House was sent off 5/4 favourite for the Irish Derby earlier today but The Queen's colt could only finish fourth, Aidan O'Brien training the first three home - Treasure Beach (7/2) beat stablemates Seville (5/1) and Memphis Tennessee (10/1) to give the Irish handler his ninth victory in the race. This evening Paddy Power bet on the Ladbrokes St Leger as follows: 3/1 Nathaniel, 5/1 Treasure Beach, 6/1 Brown Panther, 8/1 Sea Moon, 10/1 Memphis Tennessee, 12/1 Seville.

I was out and about Saturday lunchtime when I received a phone call from a fellow racegoer I see at the races once or twice a year. He'd had a word from one of the owners of Misty Conquest who was due to run in the listed Empress Stakes at Newmarket. 14 had been declared but at the time of the call one had been withdrawn; Tom Dascombe's filly had been priced up 5/1 second favourite in a couple of the morning papers. Six furlong sprints aren't my cup of tea and a few in the field looked well fancied, including Queen's Revenge and My Propeller, owned by Newcastle footballer Joey Barton; last time out this one had won a six furlong Pontefract madien by an astonishing 17 lengths. After some consideration I decided not to play. When Channel 4 showed the race preliminaries, another two had fallen by the wayside (including My Propeller) and Misty Conquest was priced at 10/1. In the event, she knew her job, broke well, led to half way, eventually coming home third; she had no answer to the strong challenge of Lily's Angel (6/1) who won a shade more cosily than the distances might suggest and looks a smart prospect.

The Jamie Snowden trained 11-year-old Knighton Combe took this afternoon renewal of Uttoxeter's English Summer National at odds of 16/1.

Martin Waller (Tempus) penned an interesting piece in Saturday's Times under the headline 'No such thing as a dead cert for investors in online gaming'. Betfair is shortly set to release its first set of annual figures since the company's flotation; shares issued at £13 last autumn were worth just £7.43 at close of business on Friday evening.

Finally Will Hayler's blog in Saturday's Guardian highlighted Channel 4 presenter Lesley Graham's attempt to generate more interest in her nine bedroom Newmarket mansion which she is looking to sell following the collapse of her marriage to Neil;  a piece appeared in the property section of Wednesday's London Evening Standard. Back in March A.P. McCoy's house was on the market for £2.5 million but unfortunately the property was sold before I could arrange a meeting with my mortgage adviser. By comparison Ms Graham's pad looks a snip at just £1.4 million but I won't bother trying to contact my adviser as I happen to know he's on holdiay for a fortnight...   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Northumberland Plate 2011

Prior to last year's running of the Northumberland Plate I wrote:

"Recently a number of long distance races on the Flat have gone the way of horses with form over the sticks - Mamlook took the Chester Cup in May, while Junior won the Ascot Stakes and Bergo the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot last week. The start of a trend? Probably not..."

Twelve months on, perhaps there is something of a trend.... Last year's Plate winner Overturn took this year's Chester Cup while Veiled won the Ascot Stakes and Swingkeel the Queen Alexandra Stakes, all horses with jumps form in the book. Digging a little deeper, I discovered that between the years 1994 and 2001, no winner of the Pitmen's Derby had previously run over the sticks; from 2002 onwards, five of the subsequent nine winners had National Hunt form (Bangalore 2002, Unleash 2003, Mirjan 2004, Arc Bleu 2008 and Overturn 2010).

Regular readers will know that this Flat term I'm trying to focus on horses with jumps form racing over more than one and a half miles; two Royal Ascot winners last week were supplemented by My Arch (8/1) taking the Pontefract Cup on Sunday while Kavaloti (11/10f) collected a class 6 handicap on the all-weather at Kempton on Wednesday evening.

The horses with jumps form declared for Newcastle's Northumberland Plate tomorrow are Overturn, Investissement, La Vecchia Scuola and first reserve Crackentorp who may yet line up as Her Majesty's horse, Tactitian, is rated doubtful this evening. Although this is a two mile race, a low draw is seen as important - in the past decade four winners have raced out of a stall numbered higher than nine, with Eddie Ahern performing miracles last year on Overturn who broke from stall 21. Donald McCain's charge missed last weeks' Queen Alexandra Stakes on account of the ground, has a plum draw in stall two but is rated thirteen pounds higher this year - Henry Brooke can claim five. It's worth noting that only one horse has carried more than 8-11 to victory in the last decade - Bangalore won with 9-5 in 2002. John Gosden's Investissement is another with a good draw (berth three) and looks interesting, having had this as his target for a while; previously with Evan Williams, the Singspiel gelding didn't take to hurdling, finishing tailed off in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Jim Goldie trains bay mare La Vecchia Scuola who is another with a good draw (stall 4) but has been out of sorts since her second in last season's Cesarewitch at Newmarket; on her last run over hurdles she finished over 30 lengths behind Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. My Arch took the Pontefract Cup on Sunday but is drawn widest of all in stall 22 while Tim Easterby's Crackentorp finished third behind the useful Storm Brig in a Newcastle novice hurdle last November.

Of the other runners, Activate's Haydock win last month catches the eye, with Swingkeel (sixth) and My Arch (seventh) both having won since - Deauville Flyer, another from Tim Easterby's yard, was fourth that day, suffering interference in running around two furlongs out, and probably represents that trainer's best chance.

Almost all layers offer a quarter the odds four places - in a very competitive affair I'll take an each-way interest in Investissement at around 9/1.

I haven't done any work on Sunday's cards but I'll look closely at my Epsom Derby selection Native Khan who goes in the Irish Derby. Writing in the Weekender Kieren Fallon rates him overpriced at 8/1 and 'the logical each-way pick', while Nick Mordin selects the same horse as he sees favourite Carlton House 'vulnerable off a quick return because he's still immature'.

On the same day but changing codes, 18 have been declared for the English Summer National run over three and half miles at Uttoxeter. I prefer a young horse for this one and will do some homework on Eoin Griffin's The Last Derby who was third in the Cork National last October and sixth in the Irish National at Fairyhouse in April.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 reviewed

Over Royal Ascot week the blog's highlighted suggestions turned in a small loss (to recorded SPs) of 0.43 points; two winners (Canford Cliffs 11/8 and Veiled 11/2) with one each-way second (Harris Tweed 12/1) from 11 selections resulted a win strike rate of 18.18%.

First day highlights included Canford Cliffs' defeat of Goldikova and Frankel's victory in the St James's Palace Stakes; there is now a distinct possibility the two horses will clash in the Sussex Stakes at the Glorious Goodwood meeting on July 27th.

Rewilding's neck defeat of 4/11 favourite SoYou Think in Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes (one recorded bet on the favourite of £20,000-£45,000) provided plenty of drama and a nine day ban for winning jockey Frankie Dettori whose action in hitting his mount 24 times in the final two furlongs has re-ignited the debate surrounding misuse of the whip.

Fame And Glory stole the show in Thursday's Gold Cup; comparisons with the great Yeats were inevitable. Brown Panther took the concluding King George V Stakes in some style; in the immediate aftermath winning owner Michael Owen was spotted wiping a tear from his eye. Connections now appear to be considering the German Derby as well the Doncaster St.Leger. The high fashion of Ladies' Day was lowered considerably when eight men set about knocking nine bells out of each other in a full-blown brawl behind the grandstand. One imagines Her Majesty would not have been amused...

Less than a fortnight after Pour Moi had crossed La Manche to claim the Epsom Derby, France recorded a 1-2 in Friday's feature with Immortal Verse beating Nova Hawk two and a quarter lengths in the Coronation Stakes.

On the final day Await The Dawn recorded an impressive victory on ground that didn't suit in the Hardwicke; connections are still dreaming of the Breeders' Cup Classic while in the space of 40 minutes trainer James Fanshawe landed a 220/1 double, sending out Society Rock to win the Golden Jubilee Stakes at 25/1 and Deacon Blues the Wokingham at 15/2.

So, what of Royal Ascot?

Rick Broadbent, writing as Couch Potato in The Times, '...remains undecided as to whether live coverage of a Middle England bender is actually sport.'

Nonetheless there remains something quaintly reaassuring in the fact that this particular meeting can generate plenty of correspondence to the same paper's letters page. On Thursday Michael Cole of Woodbridge, Suffolk wrote, 'The preponderance of black stovepipe hats is making Royal Ascot look like an undertakers' convention. The grey topper is more suitable to a summer race meeting...' Saturday's Times published seven replies making several points on various aspects of social etiquette but perhaps Brian Smith of Wells, Somerset, asked two questions on the lips of  the silent majority when inquiring, 'Why is it necessary to wear this ridiculous garb to watch a horse race? Why can't people wear normal clothes?'

Finally, a jumps note to finish on. John Francome pointed out on Saturday's Morning Line that 2011 will be a year to remember for amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen. Three months after riding Long Run to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Sam walked down the aisle to marry Annabel Ballin. Francome reported that the classic car due to take the happy couple on their way unfortunately failed to start and then went on to express his hope that a similar problem wasn't repeated later in the bridal suite...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 - Saturday

Saturday is the final day of Royal Ascot...

Await The Dawn will be a warm favourite in the Hardwicke Stakes (3.05) but I intend to have an each-way wager on Harris Tweed. The gelding was beaten ten lengths by St Nicholas Abbey in the Ormonde at Chester run on fast ground - that one has since gone on to claim Epsom's Coronation Cup. Willie Haggas' charge is better on soft and although he has improvement to find with several in the field he rates a value bet at 16/1.

At two miles five furlongs and 159 yards Ascot's finale, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, is the longest race in the Flat calendar; Bergo took this last year - I'm concentrating on horses with form over the jumps.

American Spin, second in a maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter last time, is priced up at 150/1 and has the look of a social runner. Lady Green's brown mare Dayia has form in Irish bumpers and finished fourth in this race last year. Degas Art appears to have been sold out of Howard Johnson's yard after winning a Hexham seller; now with Lucinda Russell, he went on to take a handicap hurdle at Perth off a rating of 120. Willie Mullins saddles Deutschland who was eighth in this last year and has had a couple of warm-ups while Font is something of a character who bounced back to form on his first run for Lawney Hill. Tim Vaughan's Grand Art has been mixing codes and racing over a variety of distances but hasn't won since May 2009 while Halla San found the obstacles getting in the way last winter. Ladies Best appears best on fast ground and won an Exeter maiden hurdle last month; the King's Best gelding has his first run here for James Given. Not Til Monday, owned by The Three Honest Men, races from the front and has a 19 furlong Lingfield Novice Hurdle on soft ground to his name as well as K.Fallon in the plate. Overturn will be popular for obvious reasons but it's worth noting he isn't guaranteed to stay this trip. Swingkeel may prefer better ground while Kayef ran well last time at Haydock but didn't appear to stay Sandown's stiff two miles on heavy ground in January. Elyaadi was second behind Junior in last year's Ascot Stakes and has the look of a mare laid out for this.  

In the past 10 years the winner has come from the top five in the market on nine occasions. Those of interest are Elyaadi, Overturn, Dayia, Swingkeel, Degas Art and Deutschland. Dayia is discounted as she hasn't seen a racecourse since last October and Swingkeel as he appears to prefer top of the ground. After Overturn Degas Art is the highest-rated horse in the race but it's difficult to envisage the recent winner of a Hexham seller coming home first here. I prefer Elyaadi to Overturn as the Singspiel mare has winning form over two and a half miles and Overturn was allowed a relatively easy time up front in May's Chester Cup. Elyaadi is the pick with Willie Mullins' Deutschland the each-way suggestion for those looking for something at a bigger price.                  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 - Friday

Pressed for time this evening so I have concentrated on the Queen's Vase, a two mile race for three-year-olds which is due off at 5 o'clock. The current going is good to soft, soft in places, and with further rain forecast this will represent a tough test for these young horses.

Henry Cecil has won seven previous renewals and Aidan O'Brien two of the last four runnings while Mark Johnson has trained the winner of this race on five occasions in the past decade - he saddles three this year. On official ratings likely favourite Regent Street is the one to beat. The Galileo colt won his maiden over 11 furlongs in December and his third behind Recital in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial reads well given Recital subsequently finished sixth in the Epsom Derby, beaten under five lengths. He doesn't appear entirely straightforward, having tried blinkers for the first time last time out; here connections have opted to try cheekpieces for the first time. Namibian looks the pick of Mark Johnson's runners, beaten under two lengths trying to concede 16lbs to stablemate Eternal Heart at Musselburgh a fortnight ago. Namibian has been kept busy in contrast to the same stable's relatively unexposed Halifax. Henry Cecil's Solar Sky, another Galileo colt, merits attention. His second to World Domination on his racecourse debut caught the eye but he was only workmanlike the next time when winning a Haydock maiden at odds of 2/13. The Weeknder reports Cecil holds this one in some regard; World Domination runs in the King Edward VII Stakes at 3.05 and may provide a pointer to Solar Sky's chance. Of the remainder Roger Varian's Ittirad looks intriguing and has shown he can handle soft ground.

The Mark Johnson stable is respected but a strike rate of 7/79 (8.86%) in the past fortnight is a little below par. Ittirad, a Janaury foal, has enough to find on ratings but is less exposed than one or two of these and rates the tentative each-way suggestion (8/1 with William Hill this evening).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 - Thursday is Gold Cup Day

The highlight on Ladies' Day is the Gold Cup run over two and a half miles; fifteen go to post. Last year's 20/1 winner Rite Of Passage unfortunately misses the event through injury.

The market has something of a lop-sided look with layers going 6/1 the field bar one; the one in question is Aidan O'Brien's Fame And Glory. The breeding boys believe the Ballydoyle bay should stay but I don't feel inclined to find out at odds of just 7/4. He didn't impress everyone when taking the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown two and a half weeks ago and has a further six furlongs to travel here but on official ratings the favourite has at least five pounds in hand over all tomorrow's opponents.

As I've done with several long distance Flat races this term, I'm concentrating on horses with previous form over the jumps. Blue Bajan finished down the field in the 2009 Champion Hurdle behind Punjabi; he was subsequently off the track for over a year but appears rejuvenated in the care of David O'Meara. Connections have supplemented the gelding for this after his victory in Sandown's Henry II Stakes. Kasbah Bliss has finished second to Inglis Drever and fourth to Big Buck's in two renewals of Cheltenham's World Hurdle but has never quite lived up to the potential and came home sixth in this last year. The Betchworth Kid has bit and pieces of form - a close fourth to Recession Proof in Newbury's totesport Trophy last Feburary reads well but he isn't consistent and doesn't really strike me as the winner. If in the mood he'll stay and appears to have shown better form with some cut in the ground.

I'm not convinced I've mentioned the winner, so I'll have an each-way wager on Blue Bajan. He has form with a couple of the more fancied runners - William Hill's 14/1 looks reasonable value.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 - Wednesday

Wednesday's feature is the Prince of Wales's Stakes at 3.45 in which seven are set to face the starter. So You Think was seriously impressive in Australia and has continued in the same vein on two starts for Aidan O'Brien. He'll be no price so I'm gong to oppose with Planteur who has a decent turn of foot and may well prove a better colt at four than he was at three. Dylan Hill points out in the Weekender Royal Ascot Guide that the last two Prix Garnay winners to contest this have won, so Planteur, 4/1 in places, gets the nod.

In the opening Jersey Stakes Henry Candy's Codemaster is the one to beat on official ratings. This race has been the target - last time out the colt won the listed King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket, breaking the seven furlong course record in the process. Codemaster is likely to appreciate drying ground and is the selection.

The Windsor Forest at 3.05 looks extremely competitive - Seta (4/1) rates nothing more than a tentative suggestion - while as a matter of principle I never bet the annual cavalry charge that is the Royal Hunt Cup - 31 declared and layers go 6/1 the field. For those tempted, note that most bookmakers are offering a quarter the odds five places but amongst those only paying four are William Hill, Coral, Stan James and totesport.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Royal Ascot 2011 - Tuesday

Tuesday's Royal Ascot card looks the best of the entire week, the highlight being the St James's Palace Stakes due off at 3.45. Frankel, trained by Sir Henry Cecil who was awarded a knighthood in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List, made all to blow away his rivals in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket a little over six weeks ago. He'll be no price and  there are fears in some quarters the race may have left its mark. Recent rain should benefit Dream Ahead - Dream Ahead each way (14/1) is the suggestion.

Queen Anne held the first Ascot races in 1711, 300 years ago; the first race of the meeting is named after the monarch. On paper this year's renewal looks a clash between Canford Cliffs and Goldikova. Last year the mare Goldikova beat Paco Boy, trained by Richard Hannon, a neck. Hannon also trains Canford Cliffs and word is the handler considers Canford Cliffs a better horse so Canford Cliffs has to be the selection.

In the Ascot Stakes over two and a half miles, I'm going to follow a theme discussed on the blog in recent weeks and concentrate on horses with jumps form.

Top weight Junior won this off a 10 pound lower mark last year; he took the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival by an astonishing 24 lengths in March so it's not surprising to see layers mark up David Pipe's charge favourite. Paul Webber's Australia Day likes to race from the front and finished fourth in the one and a half mile Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at this meeting last year before going on to take the competitive totescoop6 handicap hurdle at Market Rasen later in the summer; the grey gelding has never won beyond 17 furlongs. Sunwise moved from John Oxx to Paul Nicholls but didn't appear in love with jumping; on his inaugural run for Willie Haggas, he finished fourth in a York claimer and  has enough to find. The last time we saw Tyrells Wood, owned by Dr Marman Koukash and now trained by Ian Williams, was in this event a year ago when he finished eleventh - the booking of Jamie Spencer catches the eye. Charlie Mann's Unleashed has never won beyond 12 furlongs and finished down the field last year while Brian Ellison's Palomar has been kept busy but strikes me as a horse who has to have things fall just right. Private Story has had just one run for Tim Vaughan; he finished seventh in last year's Queen's Vase, beaten under ten lengths, and could improve for the extra half mile. Nicky Henderson's mare Veiled warrants every respect; Fallon won cosily on this one at Newmarket last time and the second that day, Gifted Leader, obliged at Sandown yesterday. Phoenix Flight will stay but doesn't appeal while La Estrella's last run over hurdles saw him finish fourth in a Stratford seller in 2008; he didn't appear to stay two miles three furlongs that day. Rattan, once with Henry Cecil and now with Willie Mullins, merits attention but bottom weight Alsadaa tries this trip for the first time.

As a play against probable favourite Junior, who is unlikely to be allowed an easy time up front, Veiled is suggested (has won at Cheltenham over two mile five furlongs) while Willie Mullins' Rattan is the each-way wager at 14/1 (Richard Hughes in the plate).

And finally, for those who must have a bet in the King's Stand Stakes at 3.05, I'd be prepared to give Overdose, aka the 'Budapest Bullet', another chance. The entire disappointed at Haydock the last time but recent rain should have helped; Coral offer 16/1 which some may feel merits each-way support.         

Friday, June 10, 2011

When Saturday comes

With Ascot just around the corner I intend to watch from the sidelines tomorrow.

Tuesday's card at the royal meeting looks exceptional with the reappearance of the 2000 Guineas winner Frankel in the St James's Palace Stakes an eagerly awaited highlight; connections of the favourite have indicated different tactics are likely be adopted in this race. The opening Queen Anne Stakes, set to feature a clash between Canford Cliffs and Goldikova, together with the five furlong King's Stand Stakes, provide strong support to the main event.

If I'm tempted off the straight path when Saturday comes, I'll look at horses with previous jumps form in the concluding handicap at Sandown run over one and threequarter miles. Top weight Right Stuff is a dual purpose horse who hasn't won since April 2009; last time out he finished third off a rating of 112 in a Fontwell handicap hurdle so he is respected here with a mark of 85. Owned by Malcolm Denmark Kid Charlemagne hasn't run over hurdles since 2008 when Carl Llewellyn was training; subsequently the gelding was off the track for over two years. His third behind Illustrious Blue at odds of 80/1 in the2010 Goodwood Cup reads well and the latest effort after a break can be forgiven. The gelding has clearly been difficult to train and sports a first-time tonuge-tie tomorrow - if the tissue price of 50/1 becomes available, I'll take an each-way interest. Kazzene, owned by Terry Neill, had the Triumph Hurdle as a target at one stage. David Pipe's charge has since shown signs of reluctance in his races and has been described by his handler as 'a bit of a character but he's got an engine.' Rated 123 over hurdles, he goes off a mark of 83 tomorrow so on bare figures makes more appeal than the top weight. Gifted Leader finished eighth at York earlier today - I'd be surprised  to see him in tomorrow's line-up.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

After the Derby

French-trained colt Pour Moi took an enthralling renewal of the Derby. 19-year-old Mickael Barzalona, riding in the race for the first time, brought his mount from last to first to beat 25/1 chance Treasure Beach a head with the Queen's Carlton House threequarters of a length adrift in third. There were a few raised eyebrows immediately afterwards as Barzalona stood bolt upright in his irons to salute the victory before he'd actually passed the winning post. Connections of Carlton House were left to rue their luck but to this observer the better horse won on the day. The victory doesn't appear to have impressed official handicapper Phil Smith who has tentatively given Pour Moi a rating of 122, the lowest rating since Sir Percy won in 2006. On several occasions through the afternoon the BBC's coverage of the royal angle verged on the ridiculous while the Court of Appeal ruled that Kieren Fallon could not ride in the race, a decision the jockey likened to 'being knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon.'

Those disappointed Carlton House didn't oblige for the Queen may want to bid for a painting of Her Majesty instead. Sir Alfred James Munnings' A Study for HM The Queen and Aureole will be sold at Christie's on June 15th; the auctioneers place a £60,000-£80,000 price tag on the piece...

Whatever you think of Fred Done, you can't argue with the man's sense of timing. The day after it was announced Betfred's bid for the Tote had been successful, he appeared on the Morning Line and offered to refund all losing singles on the Derby (up to a maximum of £500) if the Queen's Carlton House won. A nice stunt, and in the event it didn't cost him a penny.

I wasn't paying full attention but I sensed Clare Balding nearly had another Liam Treadwell moment when she informed viewers before Friday's Oaks that one particular jockey, an Everton fan, had a tattoo on his back that had been unfortunately misspelt (reading Eeverton instead of Everton). Who was that jockey?

Finally, for those interested, Royal Ascot is a little over a week away; the Weekender / Raceform Update Royal Ascot Ultimate Guide 2011 went on sale Friday 3rd June.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Derby Day 2011

The jockeys have been making the news today... There were two stand-out rides at Epsom earlier, from Ryan Moore aboard Saint Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup and from Johnny Murtagh who pinched the Oaks from the front on Dancing Rain. Frankie Dettori found himself in trouble with the stewards after the Oaks, having been found guilty of dropping his hands and losing third place; he has been hit with a ten day ban. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Kieren Fallon will be able to ride in tomorrow's Derby after the owner of Native Khan took out a High Court injunction to prevent the jockey from riding Aidan O'Brien's Recital; the judge initially ruled he would not prevent Fallon from riding but the decision has been taken to appeal - the result is due at 0900 Saturday morning.

My Derby record makes grim reading with just two wins (Authorized 2007 and Workforce 2010) in forty years of trying. Generally the market has proved a good guide to the race with Sinndar (7/1) being the biggest priced winner in recent years. Using that benchmark, the victor will come from a list that comprises Carlton House, Recital, Pour Moi and Seville. I can't have the Queen's colt, Carlton House. His victory in the Dante was over three seconds slower than Midday's time in the Middleton Stakes half an hour earlier; he isn't guaranteed to stay; he doesn't represent value while his problems in the build-up have been well-documented. Fallon originally committed to ride Native Khan but has jumped ship; the jock has written a bullish piece in the Weekender about Recital's chance but at this point we don't know if he'll be on board. Seville finished second behind Carlton House in the muddling Dante and on breeding looks the more likely to stay the trip. Pour Moi has been well backed in recent weeks but French traned horses don't have a great record in the race.

Native Khan catches my eye, although obviously Fallon's view is respected. Ed Dunlop's grey isn't guaranteed to stay but he appeared to finish the 2000 Guineas strongly. Timeform rates the principals as follows: Carlton House 136p; Native Khan 134p; Seville 133p; Recital 133; Pour Moi 129p. At 12/1 with Coral I'll chance Native Khan staying the distance and have an each-way wager. For the dreamers amongst you, one that will stay and looks overpriced at 100/1 is Pisco Sour, although the luck of the draw (stall one) hasn't been kind to Hughie Morrison and his colt.

Should Carlton House win for Her Majesty, she will become the first royal to win the Derby since King Edward VII took the race with Minoru in 1909. Should Carlton House disappoint but Sohraab win the preceding Epsom Dash, I'd imagine Her Majesty would not be particularly amused; Kate Middleton's parents own a share of Sohraab...

Up at Newcastle's evening meeting, several runners in the two mile handicap (7.30) have form over the sticks. Orsippus is one that stands out, despite top weight, having finished third in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham in March. Off a mark of 137 he disappointed in the Swinton Hurdle but he starts this Grade 6 handicap off 62. He would be of interest if priced around 5/1 (as he is in tonight's tissue). In the past Westlin' Winds has tended to show better form with cut underfoot; this is his third run for Brian Ellison, having moved north from Charles Egerton's yard a couple of months back. Brian Ellison's 21% strike rate in the past fortnight means an improvement on those first two runs wouldn't be a complete surprise.