A Golden day anticipated at Sandown
4 July 2015
There is no such thing as a certainty in horse racing and then there is Golden Horn in the Coral-Eclipse.
He won the Dante Stakes in fine style in what was a good time and then he smashed a decent field in the Derby in a tremendous time.
The runner-up Jack Hobbs has since bolted up in the Irish Derby and he was not in the same league as the Horn at Epsom.
I put it to you that unless he has bounced to the moon after the Derby he is going to win, and win easily.
One factor that separates top-class horses from the others is that they always tend to give their running.
That is ostensibly the reason why Jack Hobbs was such a good price at even money for the Irish Derby. If Golden Horn is true to type and gives his running, you can name your distance.
There has been much talk about The Grey Gatsby providing stern opposition. The thought process seems to be two fold.
Firstly he is a top-class horse who after all beat Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. Secondly he was unlucky in the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Irish Champion Stakes argument is bogus. He was not the best horse in that race, he was simply the best horse that got the best ride.
Australia was given a terrible ride and should have won.
I have lost count the number of times I have been told that The Grey Gatsby has top-class form because of this result.
Such superficial analysis does nobody any favors.
As for the Prince Of Wales Stakes, yes, The Grey Gatsby was unlucky and probably should have beaten Free Eagle, but so what?
If he had won that race by a length, would that give him an even better chance against Golden Horn? The answer is simply No. He cannot run as fast as Golden Horn, that is the main problem.
If there is an issue for the favorite it could lie in the tactics that are employed. However Golden Horn settles well, looks versatile and tractable, he stays further than ten furlongs and has the speed to win over nine. Tactics are not going to be an issue.
While I am on about tactics, you will no doubt hear much talk about position in races this weekend. It seems to be a widely held belief that sitting third behind the leaders is the perfect position in a race.
No its not, position in a race is irrelevant. Pace is what matters. Sitting third in a mile race and flying through a first quarter mile in 22.0 seconds gives you little chance of winning a race. Clearly in such a scenario position is irrelevant. Let pace be the true arbiter of what happens in races, not spurious guesswork about the right position.
The trends boys will point out that no horse has ever won the Dante Stakes at York, the Derby at Epsom and the Eclipse at Sandown.
The sample of horses that have tried to complete this treble is so small that a reliance on such trends is not statistically sound.
Just because other horses have failed it does not automatically mean he will.
Golden Horn will not be much of a price but for me he is a 1-5 shot, which makes 2-5 seem very fair.
The card at Haydock is one we should tread carefully with because of all the rain that has fallen in the North West. However, I think the cut in the ground should suit the Irish raider Ballybacks Queen. She has decent form on heavy ground, comes into this on the back of a win in the Cork Derby and the booking of Silvestre de Sousa catches the eye. She will handle conditions much better than most and can be backed with some confidence.
Angus McNae's Saturday tips:
2.15 Haydock: Ballybacks Queen at 8-1 generally available
3.45 Sandown: Golden Horn at 2-5 generally available