Weekend tips: Mullins will prevail with first Flat runner at Haydock

Thom Malone runs through his picks from Ireland, the UK and the US.

Willie Mullins.
Willie Mullins.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

GALILEO WILL NOT have the same dominance this weekend as he did last.

It was a phenomenal achievement by the progeny of the 2001 Derby winner to feature in the sire line of 13 of the 14 Derby runners at Epsom last week, and sire the winner.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) bemoaned the situation somewhat in a strange response to the Ballydoyle dominance, suggesting better access to the Galileo lineage was a significant factor in the recent spate of-Irish trained winners of the historic race.

There is a modicum of truth here, but it’s the BHA who has allowed the British breeders to ignore the race, and have only belatedly introduced incentives for racing more stoutly bred two-year olds, that can ultimately make up into middle distance horses.

The warming of relations between the two breeding powerhouses, Darley and Coolmore, means there may be more variety in the training of Derby winners, but it will take a few years. Aidan O’Brien has already amassed a significant knowledge bank on how to get the best out of these regally bred beasts, the changes to the faces in the Derby winners Enclosure, may take a while.

Looking back at the Derby is a more satisfying task than looking ahead to a fairly moderate week’s racing.

A career sequence reading Woodcote to Beverley conditions race is undoubtedly a down grade. That’s the scenario for Oh Purple Reign (15.15 Saturday, Beverley — 2/1).

At Epsom, this horse’s frame didn’t seem to fit. He was quite leggy and therefore should be expected to improve on a more straightforward track. The drop in trip may not be ideal but a straight five furlongs with a stiff uphill finish will suit this son of Sir Prancelot.

He ran into a very exciting horse in the shape of Pinaturbo, who tops some Ascot betting markets. Oh Purple Reign wasn’t particularly strong in the markets on either of his racecourse appearances to date.

He won on debut at 12/1 and drifted to third in the market at Epsom. Given his scope for physical improvement, the strength of his Epsom form and a more suitable track, Oh Purple Reign looks a good bet.

Investec Derby Festival 2019 - Ladies Day - Epsom Downs Racecourse Oh Purple Reign races at Beverley. Source: Simon Cooper

The much-maligned clerk of the course at Haydock has declared the going soft. That could be worse by the time the Betway Pinnacle Stakes goes to post at 2.25 on Saturday. Willie Mullins sends his first-ever Flat runner to the track in the shape of True Self (14.15 Saturday, Haydock — 11/10).

This is a smartly-campaigned, mud-loving filly that looks progressive. Colin Keane seems to really get on well with her, as he does with most of the champion jump trainer’s horses.

Keane and Mullins have a 23% strike rate in Ireland, but this will only be the third time the pair have combined in the UK. The first two horses both won. True Self is entitled to take the step up to Group 3 class and connections have identified a particularly weak edition. True Self is 11 pounds well in against Highgarden, that should be enough.

The Navan card is not a vintage renewal, but that won’t stop the quest for winners. Aidan O’Brien’s Tango (14.15 Saturday, Navan — SP) will be a short price but should win the first race of the day at 2.15. While in the closing race on the card Dermot Weld looks to have found a nice confidence building opportunity for Tinandali (17.45 Saturday, Navan — SP).

He was too keen at the Curragh last time out. With a small field here, Oisin Orr might be able to get a soft lead then use his guaranteed stamina to get the better of the ring rusty Goddess.

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The race of the weekend is in the USA though — the final leg of the ‘Triple Crown’ stateside, the Belmont stakes. They get underway at 11.37 on Saturday night and unfortunately this time around there is no American Pharoah or Justify to create the fairytale.

The first two home in the Preakness line up, as does the third from the Kentucky Derby so the race has depth. Tacitus (23.37 Saturday, Belmont Park — 7/4) wasn’t beaten far at Churchill Downs, which is incredible given how slow he was from the gates.

The sloppy track conditions didn’t suit and he also appeared to hate the kick-back. Tacitus has a good draw on Saturday night and can get back to winning ways on the biggest stage.

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