Darren Bunyan – Inside Track – June 4th

Hope you’ve all had a good week and enjoyed the lovely weather we’ve been having. Reports that the ground had turned soft at Epsom during the week while at the same time sprinklers were being turned on at the Curragh is not exactly what we’ve been used to over the years, but we’ll certainly take it!

Sprinklers At The Curragh
Sprinklers On At The Curragh!

The weather has been fantastic for the horses I put out to grass a couple of weeks ago. The 2yo fillies in particular are really thriving out there with the sun on their back. I’ll very much look forward to bringing them back into training in about a month’s time.

Some of the horses I currently have in training have been a little slow in coming to hand but I’m taking my time with them until they come right. As a trainer with a relatively small number of horses it could be tempting to try push ahead with them in any case, but I’ve no doubt that would be a mistake. You need a lot of patience and discipline in this business!  I can certainly see the right signs emerging now and am looking forward to the summer months. In particular, I’ve a number of very nice 2yos that I will take my time with until I feel they are ready. I set my performance targets for the overall season rather than specific months and this helps ensure I don’t push horses forward before they are ready.

Mister Trader & Royal Ascot

In the meantime, we have horses like Mister Trader to keep us busy. This time next week we’ll be loading up the horse box and setting off for Royal Ascot. It’s very exciting to take a runner to that meeting who is a genuine contender and I can’t wait. During the week we had announcements about additional runners from the US and the level of international competition continues to increase at the meeting. It’s going to be a wonderful week of racing as ever.

Darren Bunyan Horsebox
The Horse Box For Royal Ascot!

Naas hosted a couple of potentially interesting 2yo Listed races last Sunday. However, with Psychedelic Funk being a non-runner, the Rochestown Stakes lost its star attraction. Visually, I thought it didn’t look a great race in running and the slow time added to that impression. In the fillies race (Coolmore Fillies Sprint) a lot of them finished on top of each other and time will tell how good they are. But there was no mistaking the quality of the easy winner Cuff who looks a filly with a future. Cuff’s time was almost 2 seconds faster than the winner of the Rochestown. In the UK, Global Applause and Yalta put up smart performances to bring themselves very much into the reckoning ahead of Royal Ascot.

Simon Rowland’s “Time Will Tell” column in The Irish Field reckons the best time figure achieved by a 2yo in Ireland or Britain this year is Caravaggio on an incredible 115, followed in second by Mister Trader on 107 and then Yalta on 101 in 3rd ahead of Global Applause on 100 in 4th.

Epsom Derby

Of course on Saturday Epsom will be the focus of the racing world for this year’s running of The Derby. It’s 100 years since the last filly (Fifinella) won the race and with none lining up this year that record will stand a little longer. There had been much discussion about the filly Minding potentially lining up this year when the race looked so open. Given her impressive display in winning the Oaks on Friday people will wonder how she might have fared in the Derby.

With 18 runners and nothing particularly standing out it certainly has a very open look to it. 5/1 the field is another reflection of that.

I think Harzand (12/1) is a lovely big horse who has looked impressive in his last two outings. While he should cope better than many with any ease in the ground, it’s not so certain how a big horse like him will cope with the Epsom undulations. It would be great to see him win for Pat Smullen, and even if he doesn’t I think he’s one to follow going forward. Some bookies are offering 5 places on each way bets so it’s worth checking that beforehand.

Prix Du Jockey Club – Chantilly

Sunday’s Prix Du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly will be run on ground currently described as “very soft” which is not surprising given the scenes of severe flooding we’ve seen from France this week. At 8/1 Robin of Navan could be a bit of each way value since this consistent sort was a Group 1 winner on very soft ground over a similar distance in France last year.

First Season Sire 

The race to be top first season sire is always fascinating and, although there is still a long way to go, we’re beginning to see who the contenders are likely to be. We have almost 30 stallions with first-crop runners in Europe this season and the pre-season favourites in the betting were Harbour Watch, Frankel, Excelebration and Casamento in that order. I bought yearlings by Helmet, Sir Prancealot and Bated Breath who have all had good starts sitting 1st, 2nd and 6th respectively in the current standings. My brother Brian had a few quid on Helmet at 40/1 when I told him how much I liked the Helmet yearlings at the sales and also when we got to see how impressive our own Helmet filly is. The bookies are currently making Helmet (who has had 5 winners) favourite at 5/2. Frankel is a close 2nd at 3/1 after 2 of his first 3 runners have won. Frankel of course will have had the very best of mares visiting him and has 111 2yo’s to run for him from his first crop.  This compares to the 83 Helmet has to run for him.  I might be advising Brian to hedge that bet, especially if Frankel keeps turning them out at the current rate! I’m surprised Frankel’s odds haven’t shortened below the current level.

Enjoy the great weekend of racing. Best of luck! You can keep up to date on our latest news on our website: www.darrenbunyanracing.com

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