The quality of the Derby at Epsom is so often called into question by those who love a negative comment, but even the regular naysayers would have to admit that this year’s form is looking red hot and now the final pecking order of the mile-and-a-half three-year-olds could be confirmed with three of the first 4 home in England clashing again at the Curragh.
Anthony Van Dyck, Madhmoon and Broome are clear of the rest of the field in the market and it’s easy to see why.
Japan, third at Epsom, came out last week and won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in very fine style while the sixth-placed horse Circus Maximus was dropped right back to a mile and just about got home to win the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.
Fifth horse Sir Dragonet hasn’t run since the Derby but went off 11/4 favourite there and was a very taking winner of the Chester Vase with all of this evidence suggesting that in fact this was a smoking hot Derby renewal.
The eventual winner, Anthony Van Dyck, is the natural favourite for the Curragh showdown but he just about won in a blanket finish at Epsom and given what a unique test that race is, the form alone is far from a guarantee that he can see off the same horses again.
Stablemate Broome, one of many contenders from the Aidan O’Brien yard, was just three quarters of a length back in fourth place and yet could be twice the price of Anthony Van Dyck and between them they hold a major chance.
O’Brien went public to say that he’d been a little lighter on his classic horses during the trials in May, so perhaps further improvement could be expected from them after Epsom and that seems to have been born out given the performances of Japan and Circus Maximus at the Royal meeting.
It could yet transpire that the master of Ballydoyle doesn’t win the race at all though given the confidence shown by 87-year-old Kevin Prendergast in his contender Madhmoon.
Having gotten to within 4½ lengths of Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas despite being on completely the wrong side of the track, he ran a blinder in the Derby and looked like the winner with a couple of furlongs to go only to be collared by the O’Brien battalion.
Although he got swamped there, he battled on well to claim a close second place and we must remember his form from last season when he comfortably beat Broome in a Group 2 at Leopardstown on only his second racecourse start.
Given that it appears he has the beating of Broome and that in winning at both Lingfield and Epsom Anthony Van Dyck may have a liking for a more unconventional track, Madhmoon could be the real value in the race and there’s little doubt that he can improve again over this course.