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It pays to look beyond the obvious in the Derby
Although well backed in the hours leading up to the Derby on Saturday, Adayar returned an SP of 16/1 to join Wings of Eagles (40/1 in 2017), Masar (16/1 in 2018) and Serpentine (25/1 in 2020) as the fourth horse to win the race at double-figure odds in just the last five years. For context, that is more than the number of favourites to have been successful in the last 14 years.
It’s not just the winners who have been making headlines in the Derby at big odds either. After all, the maiden Mojo Star filled the runner-up spot in this year’s renewal at 50/1, following on from the 2020 edition in which the so-called outsiders Khalifa Sat (50/1) and Amhran Na Bhfiann (66/1) completed the frame behind Serpentine.
The result also continued a sequence which has seen at least one horse with an SP of 14/1 or longer finish in the first three in every Derby since 2012. The others on that list are Libertarian (second at 14/1) and Galileo Rock (third at 25/1) in 2013, Romsdal (third at 20/1) in 2014, Storm The Stars (third at 16/1) in 2015, Idaho (third at 14/1) in 2016), Dee Ex Bee (second at 20/1) in 2018 and Japan (third at 20/1) in 2019.
We’re usually dealing with unexposed horses in the Derby, many of whom are tackling the trip for the first time, so it’s no surprise that some step up significantly on their previous form. However, trying to find the right horse to make that step is the tricky part!
Snowfall looks a potential superstar
Snowfall had sprung a surprise on her reappearance in the Musidora Stakes at York, but she confirmed herself full value for that effort and then some with an imperious success in Friday’s Oaks, identifying her as a filly who will command the utmost respect from now on.
Held up in the early stages, Snowfall was produced to lead entering the final two furlongs after making smooth headway on the bridle under Frankie Dettori. From there she proceeded to draw further and further clear, ultimately passing the post with 16 lengths to spare over Mystery Angel – the longest winning margin recorded in a Group 1 in Britain or Ireland since the turn of the century.
In terms of form, Snowfall earned a Timeform rating of 122, which puts her behind only Enable (125 in 2017) and Love (123 in 2020) amongst the highest-rated winners of the Oaks in the last decade. Enable, of course, went on to sweep all before her as a three-year-old with four more wins in the Irish Oaks, King George, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Snowfall is perhaps likely to follow a similar path this season, though her connections will be keen to keep her apart from stablemate Love. Throw into the mix St Mark’s Basilica, who completed the French 2000 Guineas/French Derby double in ready fashion on Sunday, and Ballydoyle look to have a very strong hand to go to war with this summer.
Time to start taking Pyledriver seriously
The Arc could also be on Pyledriver’s agenda at the end of the season, a race for which ante-post odds of appear to do him a disservice.
It’s fair to say that Pyledriver has been underestimated throughout his career, with his five wins being achieved at odds of 50/1, 14/1, 18/1, 10/1 and 8/1. That sequence already included a pair of Group 2 victories as a three-year-old before he deservedly made the breakthrough at the top level in Friday’s Coronation Cup, making up for his unfortunate run in last year’s Derby in the process.
Pyledriver was forcefully-ridden in the Coronation Cup and showed a really game attitude to get back up after being headed entering the final furlong by the strong-travelling Al Aasy. Just a neck separated Pyledriver and Al Aasy at the line and the pair pulled seven lengths clear of the rest, suggesting they were both value for high-class form.
A rematch between the pair will be something to look forward to with both horses now possessing a Timeform rating of 128. Interestingly, that level of form would have been good enough to hit the frame in most recent editions of the Arc, so Pyledriver could be worth a small each-way interest at his current odds – with no obvious reason why Al Aasy should be so much shorter.
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