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Madhmoon arising to mount a long odds challenge for Derby victory


Well priced: Madhmoon, with Chris Hayes on board, winning at Leopardstown
Well priced: Madhmoon, with Chris Hayes on board, winning at Leopardstown

By Ashley Iveson

Madhmoon could be the value call in the Investec Derby at Epsom.

Kevin Prendergast's colt looked every inch a top-class prospect in winning his two juvenile starts, including a comprehensive victory over Aidan O'Brien's Broome in a Group Two at Leopardstown.

Broome has won each of his two starts this season, while Madhmoon has been beaten twice, so it is no great surprise the former is shorter in the betting for today's premier Classic.

However, Madhmoon is almost double the price of a horse he has beaten soundly - and odds of around 12-1 are just too tempting to pass up.

The Dawn Approach colt has not done much wrong this season, shaping as though he needed the run when narrowly beaten on his comeback before finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The way he was staying on at the death over the Rowley Mile suggested he would appreciate a step up to at least a mile and a quarter.

There must be some doubt about whether the mile and a half will be a bridge too far, but it is worth taking the chance on a horse who will relish the prevailing fast ground.

Nyaleti can open her account for the campaign in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

Mark Johnston's tough-as-teak filly has performed admirably in defeat twice this season - filling the runner-up spot in the Dahlia at Newmarket before placing fourth in the Middleton at York.

Coming back in trip in a slightly weaker race, Nyaleti can adopt her preferred front-running style and could prove tough to peg back on a track that will play to her strengths.

Zaaki will be regarded as one of the bankers of the afternoon in the Investec Diomed Stakes.

Progressive as a three-year-old, Sir Michael Stoute's charge was gelded during the off-season - and it certainly did him no harm, judged on his comeback victory in the Listed Paradise Stakes at Ascot a month ago.

The subsequent French success of the runner-up gives the form a very solid look, and Zaaki is expected to take the step up to Group Three level in his stride.

Blue De Vega did not get the splits when he needed them in last year's Investec "Dash" Handicap - but lining up off a 5lb lower mark, he is worth another chance.

Beaten four lengths in fourth, he probably would not have got by the winner Tanasoq that day - but he is now racing off his lowest ever perch and could be a serious threat.

Away from Epsom, Ice Gala is the pick in the Listed Stobo Castle Ladies' Day Gold Cup Fillies' Stakes at Musselburgh.

She was placed at this level on her final juvenile start and showed plenty more promise when winning on her return last month.

Ice Gala was a comfortable winner in the end in a fillies' handicap at Salisbury, although she possibly profited after coming together with another rival in the final furlong.

That said, Ice Gala has plenty of potential and can make the next step forward under the very capable Josephine Gordon.

Buckman Tavern takes a hike in trip as he makes his seasonal bow in the Doncaster Groundworks Handicap on Town Moor.

Last seen winning over a mile at Carlisle last September, Buckman Tavern races over an extended 14 furlongs this time - but the trip looks likely to suit on his pedigree.

Add into the mix the fact his trainer is Sir Mark Prescott, and you can make a reasonable case for the three-year-old despite some minor ground concerns.


DONCASTER: 1.20 Echo, 1.55 Full Verse, 2.30 She Believes, 3.05 Buckman Tavern, 3.40 Black Lotus, 4.15 Moss Gill, 4.50 Irreverent.

EPSOM: 2.00 Creationist, 2.35 Nyaleti, 3.10 Zaaki, 3.45 Blue De Vega, 4.30 MADHMOON (NAP), 5.15 Grandee, 5.50 Spanish City.

HEXHAM: 1.30 Melody Of Scotland, 2.05 No Hassle Hoff, 2.40 Green Etoile, 3.15 Solid Strike, 3.50 Oscar Nomination, 4.45 Black Kettle, 5.20 Witness.

LINGFIELD: 5.45 Ahfad, 6.15 Final Rock, 6.45 Probable Cause, 7.15 Nahaarr, 7.45 Liam's Lass, 8.15 Voltaic, 8.45 Clem A.

MUSSELBURGH: 1.40 She Looks Like Fun, 2.15 Furzig, 2.50 Brian Epstein, 3.25 Calling The Wind, 4.00 Ice Gala, 4.55 Fairy Falcon, 5.30 Royal Cosmic.

NAVAN: 12.35 Air Force Jet, 1.05 Jungle Jungle, 1.35 Hasankey, 2.10 Construct, 2.45 Pearlman, 3.20 Luminent, 3.55 Case In Point.

STRATFORD: 6.00 Ruthless Article, 6.30 Wolfcatcher, 7.00 Red Hot Chilly, 7.30 Wells De Lune, 8.00 Too Much To Ask, 8.30 Zamparelli, 9.00 Marzano.

TRAMORE: 1.15 Dunbar, 1.50 Elusive Don, 2.25 Star Of Oscar, 3.00 Chestnut Brave, 3.35 Song Of The Sky, 4.10 Holly Flight, 4.40 Nicklass.

WORCESTER: 1.45 Lord Ballim, 2.20 Auld Sod, 2.55 Potterman, 3.30 Chasamax, 4.05 Theatrebar, 5.00 Legend Lady, 5.35 Moonlight Camp.

DOUBLE: Madhmoon and Zaaki (both Epsom)

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