Ante Post Derby Punters Praying for Abbey Success
Such was the authority with which St Nicholas Abbey despatched his rivals in the Group1 Racing Post Trophy last October, it is hard to look much further in considering the most likely horse to win this year's Epsom Derby, writes Elliot Slater.
Aidan O'Brien's unbeaten son of Monjteu has been the dominant force in the ante-post market for the mile-and-a-half classic from the moment he crossed the line well clear of the classy Elusive Pimpernel and Al Zir. Punters just don't seem to be able to get enough of the outstanding juvenile of last term who now is a top priced 9/4 with Epsom Derby betting to win the colts' classic, with 12/1 and very much bigger available for other entries.
Over the years many winter favourites for the Derby have failed to run to the same level as form as in their two-year-old campaign, but the vibes emanating from Ballydoyle are of tremendous confidence and suggest that the all conquering Irish team will be very disappointed if their lad fails to win.
Should St Nichols Abbey falter on the road to Epsom then maybe his stable campaign and fellow Group1 juvenile scorer Jan Vermeer might be a plausible alternative. At 12/1 he is currently second favourite in the list, but there has to be a slight doubt as to just how well he might handle fast ground having proved so effective in deep conditions in France at the end of last term.
Probably the best of the British options at this early stage is the John Dunlop-trained Elusive Pimpernel, who got a rear view of the favourite when runner-up at Doncaster but had previously shown very smart form in winning at Newmarket and York. He looks a thorough middle-distance horse and at 20/1 is possibly the each-way value for Epsom with the big event still 12 weeks away.
Sea The Stars took the racing world by storm last year and any three-year-old is now set to be judged by his lofty benchmark. Aidan O'Brien and his team however have hinted that their new stable star could be capable of leaving a legacy of his own before Grand National 2010 amongst other events is out.