IN SUMMARY: As usual, this race could hold valuable clues for the forthcoming season and there’s every chance a significant Derby contender will emerge. Cook Islands is Ryan Moore’s pick of the Aidan O’Brien-trained trio and created a very good impression when winning a Navan maiden in October but the suggestion is MOONLIGHT MAGIC, who appeared to have quite a bit left in the tank when taking a Listed event here on the second of his two 2yo starts. Beacon Rock went close in a Newmarket Group 3 event when last in action and ought to provide a good yardstick for this form. Harzand won a heavy-ground maiden by 16l last month and, given today’s similar conditions, is also of interest.
1 Beacon Rock – Won his maiden on softish ground last summer and ended 2yo campaign with excellent second in Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket (1m, good); that form sets the standard and today’s longer trip is expected to suit, but cheekpieces (worn on last two starts) are missing today and Ryan Moore has jumped ship.
2 Cook Islands – Delivered on debut promise when impressive winner of Navan maiden (1m, good to yielding) in October; takes on much stronger opposition here but is open to any amount of improvement this season and is the choice of Ryan Moore today.
3 Harzand – Displayed promise on sole 2yo start and returned from winter break with wide-margin success in Cork maiden (1m2f, heavy) last month; it’s tricky to gauge what that form is worth but this Derby entrant is evidently well equipped to cope with slow ground and needs to be taken seriously.
4 Idaho – Easily won Curragh maiden (1m, good to firm) on debut in October and was very respectable fourth in Group 1 at Saint-Cloud (1m2f, soft) the following month; ought to be competitive here too, but today’s jockey bookings suggest he’s not top of the Ballydoyle pecking order.
5 Moonlight Magic – Won both 2yo starts in October, the first a 7f Cork maiden on softish ground and the second a 1m1f Listed event here; expected to make significant further progress this season and is currently no bigger than 20/1 for The Derby; commands respect.
6 Play The Game – Useful 2yo who has form on slow ground and wasn’t beaten far when sixth in Curragh Group 2 (1m, good) in September; more exposed than some of today’s rivals, though, and faces a tough assignment on seasonal debut.
7 Theodorico – Opened account on nursery debut here (7f, good to yielding) in October and made pleasing return to action when second in Curragh handicap (7f, yielding to soft) last month; needs today’s longer trip to unlock significant improvement if he’s to get competitive at this level, though.
myracing Forecast Prices: 9/4 Cook Islands, Moonlight Magic, 4/1 Harzand, 5/1 Beacon Rock, 10/1 Idaho, 25/1 Theodorico, 33/1 Play The Game