It’s Derby Day! In fact, you might call it Derby weekend with the French Derby taking place on Sunday. Add to the out in the States they have the Belmont Stakes the third leg of the Triple Crown out there for three-year-olds and it is a massive 48 hours of racing ahead.
There are many imitators across the globe but there is only one true Derby.
As Frederico Tesio famously said “The thoroughbred exists because its selection has depended, not on experts, technicians or zoologists, but on a piece of wood: the winning post of the Epsom Derby.”
Best bets for the horse racing at Epsom on Saturday
The Cazoo Derby is due off at 4.30 and I have dealt with that race on the Classics page which you can read here: http://www.girdysgeegees.com/classics-2021. If you simply want to know what horse I am on its Hurricane Lane at 6-1 ante-post.
Best bets for the horse racing at Belmont Park U.S.A. Saturday
Essential Quality will be trying to re-confirm himself as the top three-year-old on the other side of the pond in the Grade One Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park due off at 11.49pm our time. Last season’s Champion Juvenile in the States heads into the race having suffered a first career defeat in the Kentucky Derby last time (tipped on here). He found a fair bit of trouble in running early from his wide draw there, had to race wide throughout, and was arguably unlucky, I thought so anyway. Drawn much better for this he can show how good he is here. I have the 2-1. Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer lines-up but Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (third in Preakness after) naturally does not run having returned two blood samples containing the banned raceday substance betamethasone. Luis Saez, who has ridden Essential Quality on all of his appearances apart from his maiden success at Churchill Downs in September, takes the ride again on the Brad Cox-trained son of Tapit. Brad Cox said talking to the Godolphin website “I am really happy with everything we have seen from Essential Quality since the Kentucky Derby – his weight and energy levels are great. He seems to have possibly moved forward physically since the Derby, which is the sign of a good horse. Luis Saez has always had a lot of confidence that this distance wouldn’t be an issue with him. Tapit has sired three winners of the Belmont and we are hoping that Essential Quality can add to that legacy. He seems to get into that one rhythm and continue. I could tell at the eighth-pole in the Kentucky Derby that he wasn’t going to get there but then he was coming back at them at the line. He is a horse who has been able to stay on in all his races. We know Essential Quality is a G1 horse, being a Champion two-year-old, but we still have a lot of work to do because we need to make him a G1 winner at three. The Belmont is obviously a fantastic race and it would be huge for him to win.”
Also, on the card at Belmont Park two Godolphin owned Charlie Appleby trained fillies that I am a huge fan of are due to line-up in the Grade One mile Longines Just a Game Stakes at 8.58 our time on the Turf track. Althiqa has won me a few quid and is a class filly but I won’t be on here for this. Summer Romance is the one, tipped last time by me when she won the G.2 Balanchine at the Dubai Carnival in February - Althiqa third. A lovely grey filly who is lightly raced for a four-year-old she has mixed it with some of the best in her career and should be able to lead these a merry dance. Front running style no bad thing in the States and I will be getting on at the best price I can when they chalk-up. Charlie Appleby told the Godolphin website “Summer Romance and Althiqa have been training well since arriving in New York. They are quite closely matched on their Dubai form this year and both bring plenty of experience into the race. Althiqa has been very consistent throughout her career, while Summer Romance showed how good she can be in the Balanchine. This looked a good opportunity to travel to the US with them. They would have to carry G2 penalties for their Meydan wins if we ran them in Europe, where the G1 races for older fillies and mares don’t really get going until later in the year.”
Best bets for the horse racing at Chantilly in France Sunday
The big races keep coming this weekend with the Group One 1m2½f Qatar Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday due off at 3.00. St Marks Basilica will be jolly for this having won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp last month. That was on ground described as very soft and his win in the G.1 Dewhurst back in October was on soft so you can see why ‘the lads’ have sent him across the Channel. It appears to have worked out nicely as the going is described as good-soft with scattered showers on Saturday. 9-4 is about and that looks a fair price to me. Stable Mate Van Gogh ran with credit in the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas and won the G.1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last back-end. That was on heavy and his maiden win was on yielding so the softer underhoof conditions in France should be in his favour as well. Megallan has been aimed at this and will be ridden by Olivier Peslier but the ground may be a bit too sticky for him to show his best; all his best from on good or faster ground. As for the home team Makaloun looks the best hope for the French but will need to improve again or will be running for minor honours at best.