Jordan McCarthy previews this weekend’s marquee race, the Epsom Derby and tells us why Australia is set for glory.
The winning post at Epsom Downs racecourse is regarded as the most valuable piece of stick in horse racing. Twelve furlongs on the turns and undulations of the Surrey turf provide the ultimate test for a young thoroughbred. It is no wonder that Derby winners are seen as hot property at stud.
The Ballydoyle/Coolmore operation love this race and the last three renewals have been won by horses carrying the colours of Messrs Magner, Smith and Tabor.
The team are represented by four horses in Saturday’s race but all attention thus far has been on the colt that shares his name with a place that has inspired many Irish people in recent years. While his odds of 6/4 may not be quite as inspiring, Australia is one of the most exciting horses in training at the moment.
Of course a bold name choice does not automatically elevate a horse to ante post favourite for Britain’s premier race. No, there is another reason for that. In fact, there are three;
Australia is impeccably bred, to say the least. He is by the legendary Galileo, a son of the legendary Saddler’s Wells and out of the mighty mare Urban Sea. Galileo sired 6 Group 1 winners in 2013 which included Epsom hero Ruler of the World.
Galileo gave Aidan O’Brien a first Derby triumph back in 2001 and has sired two English Derby winners to date, the other being New Approach in 2008.
Australia is not only by a multiple champion sire, he is out of Oaks winner Ouija Board. This mare is arguably the best we have seen this century and conquered the 12 furlong test of Epsom in 2004.
There is no denying that Australia is the best bred horse in the sport of kings at the moment and seems to be tailor made for Epsom.
The chestnut colt landed the Group 3 juvenile contest at Leopardstown in September and did so in good style. He beat the highly regarded Free Eagle, himself a Derby candidate until suffering injury, and subsequent Dee Stakes winner Kingfisher.
Australia’s reappearance came in last month’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket where he finished third behind Night Of Thunder and Kingman. The Ballydoyle horse put in a good effort at HQ and that run will put him in good shape for a big run on Saturday.
The Guineas was a frustrating race initially as the field split into two groups. However, the form of the race is working out extremely well. Runner-up Kingman landed the Irish equivalent on his next start, while The Grey Gatsby (tenth) has taken the Group 2 Dante Stakes and the French Derby. That’s cracking form!
Aidan O’Brien has made clear his thoughts on the son of Galileo and feels that the horse could be the best he has had since Istabraq. That is quite a statement from the Ballydoyle maestro, given the calibre of equine talent that he has unleashed down through the years. Likewise, owner John Magner has stated that he would be ‘surprised’ if the horse did not win the Derby.
Australia is at a yard that views the Derby as the most important race of all. It is fair to say that expectations are high, but Aidan O’Brien will have Australia tuned to the minute for Epsom.
The only thing not to like about the horse is his price. Even though he has now gone odds against in recent days, it is still a very unattractive proposition. Stablemates Geoffrey Chaucer (8/1) and Orchestra (16/1) hold great each way claims, and perhaps offer the best value in the race. A Coolmore 1-2-3? Here’s hoping!
If the rain stays away then Australia will be very hard to beat.
Jordan McCarthy, Pundit Arena.