What next for Derby winner Serpentine?
Take nothing away from Serpentine and Emmet McNamara’s Derby victory says Mike Deasy, but the jury is out on its significance
So, what to make of the Derby 2020? It’s one or those races where it’s best not to give an immediate reaction. Best to let it sink in.
But, after more than 48-hours, my view hasn’t changed that much.
First, and this isn’t an observation made with hindsight, being drawn in stalls one and two pretty much put pay to the chances of English King and Mogul. Cutting across from those low berths when the field his heading towards a right-hand bend is a position from which it is virtually impossible to recover.
As those two highly fancied runners were doing the best they could, Serpentine was at the head of affairs. And, whilst jockey Emmet McNamara was happy for his mount to bowl along in front of the field, putting more and more distance between himself and the rest of the field, other jockeys were either running up the backsides of slow animals, or biding their time thinking that the leader would come back to the field.
But Serpentine kept going and, coming around Tattenham Corner, if you backed him you hoped he had enough in the tank to keep going. If you’d backed something else, you hoped that it was an each-way bet because there seemed little chance that Aiden O’Brien’s record-breaking eighth Derby winner was going to be overhauled.
McNamara rode a faultless, enterprising ride and Serpentine was a willing partner. Take nothing away from their victory. They won it, the others didn’t.
So, inevitably, the second matter to be addressed is how good a Derby winner is Serpentine? We’ve not really had a winner to get the juices flowing since Sea The Stars.
Serpentine’s breeding is impeccable – a Galileo colt out of Danehill Dancer. But it is the nature of things that we have to wait to see where he runs next and what he can achieve. Some of his Derby rivals will not be so easily put to the sword, nor will their jockeys.
With the 2020 Derby run on the first Saturday of July, rather than a month earlier, heading to the Irish Derby at the Curragh is an unavailable option. It’s an unenviable quandary for the lads at Ballydoyle, but the next outing could be season defining for their horse and for the Derby.
ITV Racing having a good lockdown
Since racing resumed, it has been a triumph for ITV. Each race meeting covered has had excellent viewing figures and Saturday’s Derby was watched by just short of 2.3m viewers. The Epsom classic hasn’t seen that size an audience since the BBC were still covering the turf.
A couple of weeks ago, these scribblings noted that that Daily Mail ran an “exclusive” story that the signing of a new, three-year deal between ITV and racing was imminent. As pointed out at the time, it wasn’t the first time that the sport was on the cusp of an extension to the current contract. But, still nothing.
There are huge challenges facing racing but, for whatever reason, if it doesn’t reach a deal with ITV the results will be calamitous.
With so much airtime being given to racing, it’s inevitable that the utterings of its participants or commentators should make it to Private Eye’s Commentatorballs feature. In the latest issue we have the following:
“This horse had to be gelded because he wasn’t prepared to play ball” John Gosden (ITV Racing)
“My heart is in two minds” Hayley Moore (Sky Sports Racing)
The utterings, however, of Oisin Murphy are steering well clear of the Commentatorballs column.
His post-racing review of the day’s action, delivered to camera whilst he’s being driven home from the track demonstrates his understanding of the value of communicating with racing’s followers and doing it with candour.
On Saturday’s Derby he said:
“The issue was that looking in front of me, the likes of Max Vega and Khalifa Sat were in top gear. I’m not going to make a mid-race move in a Derby when I’m trying to conserve as much energy as I can, so I couldn’t really see how far clear Emmet was at any stage until I came around Tattenham Corner.
“If you ask any jockey riding in the race, if we had our time again, would we have tried to sit closer to Serpentine, we possibly would have tried. But could we have sat much closer, given that the horses in front of me couldn’t sit much closer, because they were flat out?”
Friday good for the Oaks
I’m not going to add to the use of “uniqueness” to describe this year’s Derby Day. That’s been done to death.
But I am going to query the wisdom of calling for the Oaks and Derby to continue to be run on the same day. A consistent view of these scribblings is that too many big races have moved to Saturday, and the Oaks should not join them.
If Jockey Club Racecourses are to maintain a two-day meeting, they are unlikely to want to shift the Oaks from “ladies’ day”. It wouldn’t be able to promote the day as such and I doubt the Coronation Cup as the headline event would have sufficient drawing power. The full house signs would not go up.
Love’s victory on Saturday was stunning and she deserved her share of the headlines, but if the Derby had delivered a similar race its would have drowned out the fillies earlier in the afternoon.
We have a Saturday Derby, I’m all for that, and we should stick with a Friday Oaks.
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