Horse Racing with Jason Hall

THERE is no doubt that racing will benefit greatly from the extra coverage afforded it by the nation’s media as attention is increasingly focused on the Queen’s prospects of winning the Epsom Derby, flat racing’s greatest prize.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype when these situations arise, so if you are looking to have a flutter on the outcome by employing a reasoned interpretation of the prospects of Her Majesty’s hot favourite, Carlton House, and not just following your heart, it is best to put the facts available into some kind of perspective.

A number of the dedicated racing press have raised concerns over the ability of Carlton House to truly see out the one-and-a-half miles of the Derby trip. The pedigree of a racehorse often gives strong clues on this front and those commentators who have doubted the inherent stamina of the horse have pointed to the record of his sire Street Cry.

Street Cry won over a mile and a quarter at the highest level and has fathered the legendary mare Zenyatta who won at the same trip on a number of occasions but was never tried at the extra two furlongs.

So we must look to the distaff side of the pedigree for consolation and who better to consult in that respect than the trainer of Carlton House’s dam, Talented, the highly respected and successful Arundel trainer John Dunlop?

“Whilst there are minor concerns over stamina with the sire, many former Derby winners have ultimately proved ideally suited by a mile and a quarter and have overcome those issues on the big day,” he said. “The dam came from a stout family and I would think that there would be enough stamina there to give great hope that the Queen’s horse will get home. Talented ran very well over the mile and a half and it was never a question for me that she could handle the mile and a half.”

So the signs that Carlton House will get the trip are encouraging.

The form he displayed when winning the Dante, the major UK trial, appears to be as good as that of any of his potential rivals tomorrow.

The manner in which he went through a gap between his two principal rivals in the Dante and then quickened clear under a hand ride was very taking but it should also be remembered that the pace of the race that day was not true and the contest was described by Ryan Moore as being “stupid”.

Carlton House is sure to progress in terms of fitness from that seasonal debut and the experience will be of great value to him tomorrow. My main concern for him is the ground as this year’s Derby looks certain to be run on quick ground, but indeed none of those at the front of the betting market can be categorically said pre-race to be ideally suited by that prospect.

The French have not won the Derby since 1976 but hopes are high for their representative Pour Moi. His trainer is bullish about his chance but, judged on his record in the race, he does not know what a Derby horse looks like.

However, some respected commentators are keen on his chance.

Recital is the main hope of the Irish and though some were concerned by his attitude when he won his trial, I feel he is the main threat to Carlton House.

All things considered, I will plump for the Queen to finally achieve her Derby dream and for Carlton House to realise his potential, but I will not be supporting the view with hard cash as his price represents no value and I see it as just a race to savour. Let us hope Carlton House makes the day as the race will be a great deal poorer in his absence.