The 2011 Derby on the 4th of June witnesses the Queen’s horse Carlton House top the betting lists at a best current price of 6-4 (2.5). Royal fever is assured in the lead up to the race and Carlton House’s price will only contract from the current odds. Is he of value? While I would agree he is the most likely winner on known evidence, the 6-4 on offer is too short. Carlton House has displayed negative coltish tendencies in the preliminaries and also ran a touch too freely in the Dante, expending early energy. When push came to shove it didn’t stop him winning the Dante cosily, always having enough in the tank to defeat Aidan O’Brien’s Seville but the paddock preliminaries will be tougher at Epsom, with the bedlam of Derby Day. O’Brien also has Recital in the big race and while there is no questioning his ability there is a question mark surrounding this horses character too. In the paddock he has often been on edge, parading on his toes. Roderic O’Brien, another O’Brien charge comes with no guarantee he will last the trip and you would be doubling up that doubt with the knowledge he may not even be in the field.
From O’Brien’s fierce rivals the Coolmore yard, Pour Moi lies second favourite and while he looks progressive he hasn’t done enough in my book to justify being second in the market at 6-1 (7). Other Coolmore entrants Casamento and Ocean War look to lack the requisite class to take the race.
So who offers the value to Carlton House? Step forward Native Khan from the Ed Dunlop yard. Currently available at odds of 12-1 (13) he is the each-way advice. Winner of the Craven and third in the 2000 Guineas the major question is can he handle the step up in trip, having never ran further than a mile before. There are reason’s to believe he can. In the 2000 Guineas, Frankel simply destroyed the field but Native Khan was doing his best work towards the end of the race when finishing third. Native Khan’s sire Azamour also won a King George over the Derby distance. It might be a big ask for Native Khan to defeat Carlton House whose team are very confident, but if he gets fast ground he is worthy of an each-way play at sizeable odds.