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Chris Dixon's Notes And Angles: Keep a close eye out for Alemagna

By Chris Dixon@cdixon82
Wed 8 Jul 2020

On the day it was emphatic. For the future it was inconclusive. The delayed running of the 2020 Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday created plenty of debate among racing fans, punters and analysts so the subject has already been well covered. Hence, I won’t spend long on my view.

I was lucky enough to be working at Epsom on Saturday for Racing TV and my immediate view was that the winner Serpentine had held a tactical advantage, but looked to have clocked a reasonable time.

My initial thinking was that he might have gained an advantage early in the race as others were taking back and seeking cover but on closer analysis of the race, it’s apparent that Emmet McNamara’s mid-race injection of pace was the winning move.

Watch a full replay of the the Investec Derby

At the point he asked Serpentine for a bit more, those behind didn’t react by giving chase soon enough and by the time they did go after him the lead was unassailable. Serpentine might well have won the Derby anyway and his pedigree couldn’t be much more suitable for the race, but he would not have won it by as far if the race had panned out differently.

If you look at the race without Serpentine in it then the first two home were never out of those positions and it looks a steadily-run and messy race. English King crossed the line with more to give in fifth and was more inconvenienced by how the race unfolded than most, while Mogul and Russian Emperor were also value for more than they could show. In contrast, Khalifa Sat and Amhran Na Bhfiann were seen to maximum advantage and are flattered by their finishing positions.

If the Derby left questions unanswered as to who is currently top of the class among the three-year-old colts, the Investec Oaks could not have yielded a more irrefutable outcome.

Love, already the winner of the Guineas, powered away from the field to double her Newmarket winning distance of four and a half lengths to nine lengths. In doing so she stopped the clock in a quicker time than Derby winner Serpentine and raised the possibility of a tilt at the fillies’ triple crown. She looks a superstar and wherever she heads next she will have an outstanding chance.

Love was in a different league to her rivals in the Oaks

After the delights of Epsom on Saturday I didn’t make an immediate return up the M1 to Yorkshire but instead stuck around for Sandown on Sunday to cover the card featuring the return of Enable in the Coral-Eclipse.

No match for the impressive Ghaiyyath on the day, Enable ran a race full of promise for the season ahead and I expect she’s as good as ever.

Trainer John Gosden had not hidden his view that his star mare was going to need the run and that’s how she shaped, her effort flattening out inside the final furlong having briefly challenged down the outer and threatening to get involved. Though beaten, her level of performance looks similar to that achieved in winning a less competitive renewal of the race on her return 12 months earlier.

As for the winner, Ghaiyyath, he had the perfect storm of a track that favours his preferred front-running style and taking on horses that might not yet be at concert pitch – but that’s not to take anything away from his display.

At no stage did he look in trouble and his time was a solid one. He has now proven he can produce top-class performances in quick succession and his presence in the highest level middle-distance races across Europe will add guaranteed pace from a genuine Group One horse.

John Gosden was satisfied with Enable's comeback run

Competitive racing was fairly thin on the ground during the earlier part of the week but there were still a couple of horses I think might be worth adding to your racingtv.com tracker for the weeks ahead from a couple of low-grade races while there were also a few horses to note from some of the competitive handicaps over the weekend.

HOUSE DEPOSIT (DECLAN CARROLL)

Making ground from off the pace can be a tough ask at Catterick and it probably isn’t the ideal track for House Deposit. Despite that he still ran well (watch below) when trying to follow up his defeat of subsequent winner Lacan at the North Yorkshire track last week, only finding the better positioned and in-form The Big House too good. His mark is now 2lb higher than it was for this defeat but he’s in good form and can defy his present mark in a similar race, perhaps at a track such as Thirsk or Redcar where he has previous winning form.

SHOW ME THE BUBBLY (JOHN O’SHEA)

A couple of runners from this yard have shaped well of late and chief among them was Show Me The Bubbly at Bath. Settled in midfield and travelling well on the outside early on, Show Me The Bubbly was asked to quicken around 2½ furlongs out and immediately made good ground to take the lead inside the final couple of furlongs before flattening out. It was the type of move that would often result in winning a race and she looks ready to strike when held onto for a little longer.

SHELIR (DAVID O’MEARA)

Conditions became hard work at Haydock over the weekend and for all that testing ground poses no issues for Shelir - indeed, he is ideally suited by some give in the ground - the mile handicap he finished sixth in became too much of a stamina test for him. Having impressed with how he travelled through the race, he did not have much left once coming off the bridle and was unable to build on an encouraging effort at Royal Ascot. Dropped 2lb to a mark of 93 on the back of this run, he’s starting to look like a well-handicapped horse and should not be long in winning when stamina is at less of a premium.

ALEMAGNA (DAVID SIMCOCK)

Alemagna knocked the eye out with the way she shaped at Sandown on Sunday. Dropped out off a strong pace, she was moved to the outside at the top of the straight and though getting a couple of slaps with the whip was not subjected to anything like maximum pressure. She still hit the line strongly (watch above) and with plenty to give so looks well handicapped, especially when returned to a mile and a half.

WHAT AN ANGEL (RICHARD HANNON)

What An Angel is still a maiden after ten career starts but both outings this season have suggested he should not be long in getting his head in front. His most recent run came at Sandown on Sunday when lining up in a competitive 0-90 handicap over 7f. The fact he was 3lb well-in after a narrow defeat at Bath was probably the reason connections decided on a quick turnaround in a grade he does not need to be in and given the way he shaped - travelling well but unable to fully open up as he met trouble - suggests that a lower grade affair should be his for the taking soon. Given his style, switching to a straight track might see him to better advantage.

Want to make a note of all of Chris's eyecatchers in recent weeks? Click here to read all his recent columns.

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