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The clever chaps at Timeform run the rule over the eight European raiders in Australian racing’s showpiece event.
Anthony Van Dyck (Aidan O’Brien)
Won the Lingfield Derby Trial on his reappearance last season and took a step forward to come out on top in a blanket finish to the Derby at Epsom, staying on well inside the final furlong to prevail. That was not a strong renewal of the Derby and he failed to win in five subsequent starts in 2019, though he did show very smart form when placed in the Irish Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf. Anthony Van Dyck Snapped the losing sequence when showing plenty of grit to fend off Stradivarius in the Prix Foy at Longchamp in September and then ran right up to his best when runner-up to Verry Elleegant (reopposes here) under topweight in the Caulfield Cup last month. Classy contender but top weight makes his task tricky.
Master of Reality (Joseph O’Brien)
Joseph O’Brien won the Melbourne Cup in 2018 with Rekindling and he went close last year with Master of Reality, who was second past the post but was demoted to fourth after causing interference in the closing stages.
Made a slow start to this campaign, beating only one rival home in the Vintage Crop Stakes and then being easily brushed aside by Twilight Payment in the Curragh Cup, but he was only narrowly denied in the St Leger Trial, reinforcing the view that he has been brought along gradually with this race as the main objective all season. Warmed up with a facile success in listed company at Down Royal last time and he should be spot-on now. Holds each-way claims.
Twilight Payment (Joseph O’Brien)
Twilight Payment may be a seven-year-old but he has proved better than ever this season, easily winning the Vintage Crop Stakes and the Curragh Cup, proving especially impressive in the latter race as he powered eight lengths clear. Couldn’t complete the hat-trick in the Irish St Leger, though he ran creditably to finish third in that Group 1, just lacking a change of gear at a crucial stage.
Likeable type who should give another good account, but he only finished in mid-division in last year’s Melbourne Cup and is likely to find a couple of these too sharp.
Stratum Albion (Willie Mullins)
Not the most reliable but he certainly has ability, as he showed when springing a surprise to win the Cesarewitch last season. Disappointed a few times over hurdles but proved better than ever when runner-up on his Flat return in the Lonsdale Cup in August, getting among some very smart stayers. Stratum Albion can be given a chance on that form, but his overall profile tempers enthusiasm and it would be a surprise were he quick enough to win this.
Dashing Willoughby (Andrew Balding)
Achieved a notable success in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last season and has raised his game a touch this term, winning a listed race over a mile and a half at Newmarket before landing the Group 3 Henry II Stakes over two miles at Sandown. Dashing Willoughby wasn’t disgraced when coming up short in the Lonsdale Cup at York, beaten two and a half lengths in fourth, but folded tamely in the Caulfield Cup last time, dropping away as if something was amiss. Difficult to fancy on the back of that display.
Prince of Arran (Charlie Fellowes)
Prince of Arran is a popular globe-trotter who has compiled a superb record in Australia. He won the Lexus Stakes before finishing third in the Melbourne Cup in 2018 and he achieved similar success Down Under last year, landing the Geelong Cup before being promoted to second in the Cup. Finished a staying-on fourth, behind Verry Elleegant, in the Caulfield Cup on his most recent appearance and that encouraging effort should have left him spot on for this assignment. Admirable sort who is clearly effective under the conditions and can be relied upon to give a good account.
Ashrun (Andreas Wohler)
Andreas Wohler won the Melbourne Cup in 2014 with Protectionist and relies on Ashrun this year. Ashrun showed smart form in France and Germany and notably finished runner-up in the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay at Deauville before heading to Australia. He has already enjoyed success Down Under as he defied top weight in the Hotham Handicap at Flemington on Saturday to secure his place in the line-up, and he’s not without a chance at a big price.
Tiger Moth (Aidan O’Brien)
Tiger Moth made it to the track only once as a juvenile, finishing an encouraging third over an inadequate seven furlongs, but he showed much-improved form to make a winning start on his reappearance in a red-hot maiden at Leopardstown in June, relishing the step up to a mile and a quarter. He then took another big step forward to finish runner-up to stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby, going down to a talented and more experienced rival by just a head, pulling five lengths clear of the remainder.
That was an extremely promising performance from a colt making just his third start, and he built on that hugely positive impression when bolting up in Group 3 company at Leopardstown in September. There should be more to come and he looks well weighted.
Tiger Moth ran a stormer to finish runner-up in the Irish Derby at such an early stage of his career and, given his lightly-raced profile, he may not have shown the full extent of his ability. He is an exciting colt and can prove a cut above these rivals.
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