Can Van Beethoven Orchestrate A Win For Aidan O’Brien?
The turf season in the UK kicks off at Doncaster today while the richest card in the world takes place over at Meydan.
At Navan the highly touted Sergei Prokofiev starts his season off over the minimum trip. Despite just being a week away from the Aintree Grand National there is no doubt that action on the level takes centre stage this weekend.
O’Brien knows the tune
Six Irish runners have made their way to Meydan although there are certainly plenty of other links to Irish horses to be found throughout the card. Aidan O’Brien has sent a squad of five, albeit nothing as nailed on as Mendelssohn appeared last year, while David Marnane is represented by interesting Argentine import Tato Key.
The UAE Derby is the race that Mendelssohn claimed last year and this year O’Brien may have a runner of interest in Van Beethoven.
Like his former stable companion who triumphed in the desert, Van Beethoven is a son of Scat Daddy and that will be a help as he encounters the Meydan dirt for the first time.
Beaten on his return at Dundalk this month, that wouldn’t be a huge negative as we know all about the O’Brien horses improving from one run to the next.
Divine Image warrants respect for Charlie Appleby and William Buick and he has won twice here during the Carnival but Van Beethoven brings solid two-year-old form to the table.
Drawn wide in 11 is far from ideal but he was fourth behind Too Darn Hot last season and it could be legitimately asked if many of these runners would get to within five lengths of the leading two-year-old.
Van Beethoven may have to settle for minor honours here but at 12/1 he must be worth a punt in an open race.
Appleby can compensate Doyle with Lincoln
Charlie Appleby will be putting the saddle on Old Persian when the Lincoln is underway at Doncaster and despite the prestige of the €100,000 race his priorities will be elsewhere.
That said, it is the first big prize of the year and in Auxerre the Godolphin team look to have a progressive type who might not be in handicap company much longer.
Appleby’s adventurous planning for international races may well bring Auxerre further afield before the year is out and James Doyle can be well compensated for missing out on Meydan today.
Inexperience has to be a concern in a race of this nature, especially when you are half the price of your nearest rival in the betting but this would look a good move for the son of Iffraaj to prove himself at this level before stepping up to stakes company and only bad luck in running should stop the four-year-old from obliging.
Have your House on the Cliff
The Dot Love-trained Cliff House has to be one of the more backable propositions at Navan today. The competitive handicap over 1m5f should see a decent market develop and while Stormy Tale is a horse that caught the eye, it was Cliff House who was picked to defy a hefty weight for this long distance contest.
The Grand National winning trainer has booked Ben Coen to claim 5lbs off the 10st he was due to carry and although it has been a while since the nine-year-old ran on the Flat, he is fresh from jumping recently and caused a surprise when winning on his penultimate start.
His run off a 7lbs higher rating and on softer ground last time out was a decent effort and Cliff House can be trusted to go fend off all challengers this afternoon.
Van Beethoven (12/1) – 2.05 Meydan
Cliff House (10/1) – 3.25 Navan
Auxerre (7/2) – 3.35 Doncaster
*Prices correct at time of publication