Fool? Eejit! Idiot!
I have called myself those names and more ever since Anthony Van Dyck won the Derby.
Why did I lay awake last night cursing myself? Why is it going to take me a while to get over that result? After all, here is what I wrote to existing members on May 14th, after Anthony Van Dyck had won this race for me and members at Lingfield and when some of you were already asking for my ante-post Derby thoughts:-
“I was impressed by the win by Anthony Van Dyck, which is currently 8/1 for the Derby. Of the many Aidan O’Brien trained winners in recent days, this was the one that impressed me the most looking ahead to the Derby at Epsom on June 1st.”
Even as late as a week before the Derby I still intended Anthony Van Dyck to be my win only bet and stablemate Circus Maximus to be the double figure each way hope. So what, I am asking myself, went wrong?
Why on earth did I change my mind to stablemate Sir Dragonet, about which I had said to members on May 22nd:-“Sir Dragonet remains the 10/3 favourite for the Derby. Not for me, thank you.”
I can only think it was jockey bookings that altered my thinking. I foolishly went with the one Ryan Moore had chosen to ride, Sir Dragonet. After all, Moore was aboard Anthony Van Dyck when the horse won the Derby trail for members at Lingfield. A race that can be watched again here. Would Moore get off a horse he thought had the best chance of giving him a winning Derby ride? Surely he knew best. Clearly not.
For all Sir Dragonet went to the front and look strong in running, the jockey went to the front too soon and the horse did not stay. It was far from the first time Ryan Moore got to the front too early at Epsom on Friday and Saturday. There are now concerns about the form and confidence of my long time favourite flat jockey. More likely, however, is that he simply does not perform best at Epsom. I would not be surprised should Ryan Moore be visiting the winners’ enclosure at Royal Ascot much more often than he did at Epsom.
None of us are jockeys and I’m always reluctant to criticise those who are. Winning and losing as a jockey is about tiny margins, luck in running and instant decision making. After deserting Anthony Van Dyck only a couple of weeks after giving him my ante-post vote of confidence, I’m in no position to criticise the decision making of any jockey in the Derby. If truth be told, it was a long way from the best quality Derby you’ll ever see.
I am, however, beginning to wonder if Aidan O’Brien will soon lose faith in Moore. I’m not convinced he is any longer pointing Moore towards his best horses. Ryan Moore is having greater success riding for Sir Michael Stoute. Just like in the good old days when he was Stout’s stable jockey.
You can become fixated on one horse or one jockey. Member of VG Tips, Jamie, tweeted me this week to say that I had blinkers on when it came to Ryan Moore. I’ve taken them off now, Jamie.
As I said in my write up last Friday, jockeys do not always choose the right one when they are spoilt for choice of horses to ride from the same stable. I’ve seen the best call it wrong, including not only Moore but also the likes of Frankie Dettori. All they have to go on is past form, the work the horse is doing at home and the opinion of the trainer. All manner of factors can alter success of a horse once on a racecourse.
Seamie Heffernan took the right path on Anthony Van Dyck. While Sir Dragonet, Broome, Japan (all trained by O’Brien) and runner up Madhmoon were involved in a scrap in the middle of the course, Heffernan steered the winner to the rail, which always helps focus the mind and sight of a racehorse.
Watch the race back and see how Seamie Heffernan, coming from behind the leaders, sees a gap and heads for the rail. That move won the Derby for Anthony Van Dyck.
While I am understandably quick to boast about big winners such as Phoenix of Spain only a week ago, so I must be as fast to put my hands up and apologise to members for breaking one of my own golden rules. Changing my mind. As loyal and understanding member Shaun said on Twitter: “You need to refer back to one of your first videos, young man. In that you say “never change your mind.” Shaun said he was “shocked” I didn’t tip Anthony Van Dyck for the second time. So am I, Shaun. Perhaps the men in white coats should be on standby for me. The definition of insanity it is said is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I swear I’ll not be changing my mind again. If you see me doing so, scream at me! It does not matter how many years you have been betting on sport, you can still learn. What I have learned the past 24 hours is to first trust my eyes. Pedigree and breeding will always play an important role in my thinking and the stall draw at some racecourses remains important (still no horse has ever won the Derby from stall 2, despite the confidence of some behind Telecaster, which finished last).
I said on May 14th that, to my eyes at least, Anthony Van Dyck was the best of the Aidan O’Brien trained seven contenders for the Derby. I apologise for not having stuck with that opinion. I pride myself on tipping winners of the big races. That’s one that got away.
The good news is that Royal Ascot is around the corner (June 18-22) and fortunes can change from one week to the next. As we have seen the past seven days.
I’ll be ready for some serious form study in the run up and during Ascot and for the Irish Derby on June 29th, the likely next appointment for Anthony Van Dyck.
Keep the faith. I’ll be back!