Irish Derby Weekend Picks – Ante-post Analysis

Breeders' Cup


Well, Royal Ascot 2023 is over.

Many, including this series, have come out the other side battered and bruised after some of the big-priced results and although some of you following from Twitter may have picked up Khaadem or Age Of Kings, these BestOfBets articles drew close to a blank.

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Alas, this happens and it’s time to march on and look forward to Irish Derby Weekend.

Although the feature race itself looks a point-and-shoot for Auguste Rodin, there are a few interesting ante-post angles on this side of the Irish Sea.

So, let’s dive in.


Everyone loves a Chip

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The Group 3 Chipchase Stakes (12:55 Newcastle) drew my attention initially and rather unusually, I want to talk about two horses in the same race.

The first of which is EL CABALLO at 4/1 with BetVictor for Karl Burke and Clifford Lee.

Heading into his run last time out in the John Of Gaunt Stakes, I wasn’t sure how much he liked good ground, however, his run through the race showed to me that he can be versatile on most surfaces.

And although my fancy, Jumby, won the race, if he wasn’t sandwiched between Gorak and The Astrologist, he would have been much closer to the action and could have won the race.


Coming into this a fresher horse than some of the Royal Ascot runners (Annaf, the ante-post favourite, and Prince Of Pillo), back to six furlongs should suit well with his good turn of foot and I like him for this race.


A July Cup horse?

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However, at double the price, I’ve also locked eyes on MOUNT ATHOS at 8/1 with BetVictor for James Tate and the in-form Neil Callan.

He is a fit and fresh horse after two runs this season, most recently a second to Spycatcher on soft ground.

By Dark Angel and out of an Iffraaj mare, he wouldn’t have bounced off the slower conditions and a return to an all-weather surface, something he is two from two on, will definitely benefit his chances.

His final run of last season and first run of this season, both on an official going of standard to slow, showed up well on the clock to make all from the front, so much so that connections handed him a July Cup entry for next month.


At 8/1 this weekend and a whopping 50/1 for the six-furlong Group 1 contest at Newmarket, both interest me for a horse who looks to have plenty of gears and with him still being relatively unexposed, I can’t drag myself away from an each-way bet on this four-year-old.


Quick turnaround for ZOFFEE

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Of the 48 still entered for the Northumberland Plate (2:05 Newcastle), 15 ran 16 or fewer days ago, a stat that includes my fancy, ZOFFEE at 7/1 with BetVictor.

The race in question that Hugo Palmer’s seven-year-old ran in was the Ascot Stakes last Tuesday, a contest he finished a staying-on sixth in under Ben Curtis who is jocked up for the weekend.


Last year’s Northumberland Vase winner sat in the rear of the field for the majority of his run last time out before coming eight-wide around the bend and running through the line.

Although my cliff horse, Calling The Wind, finished four places ahead of him in that Ascot Stakes, Richard Hughes’ seven-year-old has no prior form in backing up from a quick turnaround, something Zoffee has done before.

I feel that if he positioned himself more prominently at Royal Ascot, he might have placed, however, he didn’t and he now comes into Saturday in good form with something to prove.

7/1 is short, but to me, his claims are obvious for a course and distance winner.


Back with a favourite

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If I like El Caballo over at Newcastle, there’s no way I can leave JUMBY alone at 4/1 with BoyleSports.

As we know, Eve Johnson Houghton’s five-year-old beat El Caballo last time out at Haydock when a few things went wrong for him in running.

Although he has a three-pound penalty, Charlie Bishop said he is deadly at this level over seven furlongs and with Aldaary a potential non-runner if it remains this quick, the 4/1 about Jumby looks a good price.


For me, Aldaary hasn’t proven himself on quick ground, Pogo disappointed on his last four runs, culminating in a bad run at Ascot in the Queen Anne, and the rest need to step up to Jumby’s level.

Although he has only had 21 days off the track, that break actually makes him one of the fresher horses in the field and I hope he can make it a quick double in the 1:50 at Newmarket.

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