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Mars 12/1 for Epsom Derby

July 17th, 2012

Aidan O’Brien is used to the hype that surrounds many of his well-bred two year olds as a very high percentage of them are bred to win a classic; many are bred to win the Epsom Investec Derby. But as we all know there are fewer classics than Aidan O Brien two year olds and there’s but one Epsom Derby.

So, when one of Aidan O’Brien’s unraced two year olds is 16/1 to win that most prestigious of races before even setting foot on a racecourse you can be forgiven for laughing at those derisory odds.

That was the situation when Mars, a beautifully bred son of Galileo, lined up for an ordinary Dundalk all-weather race yesterday. But 85 seconds later Mars had been cut even further to best odds of 12/1 with Bet365, BetVictor and Paddy Power - following a 6 length all the way victory without coming off the bridle. Some bookmakers offer just 10/1.

He heads the betting lists for a race in ten months' time and is a very short price - indeed it must be at least 10/1 that he even makes the race.

He may not even be Ballydoyle’s top three year old next year, as there are so many slow maturing types that will not start their career until late August and September and many of those will improve considerably for the experience of racing. The likes of Ruler of the World, Finn McCool, Victory Song, Everglades Island and Magician are all potentially top class on their breeding. And these horses may have just one run this year as a two year old before entering a strength building winter - reappearing next spring stronger and better than many animals that matured ahead of them as two year olds.

We remember Shergar being beaten by a horse called My Ton Ton on his racecourse debut; the latter went onto be a mediocre race horse, while Shergar won the William Hill Futurity (now the Racing Post Trophy) before winning the Derby by a record 10 lengths.

On the reverse side, Mars must be the number one in the pecking order at Ballydoyle at the present time and that counts for a lot - Camelot held that mantle this time last year and he went onto win the 2000 Guineas and the Derby. Yesterday's win was a thoroughly professional display - he got into a nice rhythm and gradually increased the tempo, stretching right away in the closing stages.

Jockey Joesph O'Brien, who rode Camelot to victory in the Derby last month, was full of praise: "He has a really, really good attitude. We´ve had to wait a long time to get him out because of the way the ground has been. He settled well today but was still very green and will come on for the run. It´s very rarely that a horse wins on the bridle first time out."

It´s highly likely Mars will develop into a genuine Group 1 performer, particularly next season when he fills out, but on the basis of racecourse form Mars should not be as short as 12/1. Yes he won easily, never in trouble on the bridle, but if Usain Bolt lined up against college students he would do the same - it’s when Usain Bolt takes on the best in the London Olympics when we will know how good his form is at the present time. And it’s the same thing with Mars. He must take on some better horses in some better class races before we can even think of him as a Derby winner. So 12/1 is a very short price.

At present there are horses in the Investec Derby betting who deserve to be a shorter price than Mars - or maybe, correctly speaking, Mars should be a bigger price than them.

Dawn Approach is 20/1 with Coral (as low as 14/1 with Paddy Power and Stan James) and he has already won at Royal Ascot - taking the Group 2 Coventry stakes. It may well be that he will be more suited to the mile than a mile and a half - but he is a higher rated colt at present than Mars.

Mars may be the next wonder horse to enter our orbit, but at 12/1 it’s just too short a price to take given the facts. Next year watch out for that Dundalk race - we bet the winner trained by a relatively unknown trainer and owned by someone we don’t know will be at least 33/1 to win the 2014 derby.

And that’s the crux of the argument. We aren’t backing Mars at 12/1 to win the Derby, we are backing Aidan O’Brien/Michael Tabor, and the history and brilliance of Ballydoyle at 12/1 to win the Derby. And betting on reputation is never advised. You need to go against the crowd to make a long term profit, not get crushed in the rush to take these sorts of odds.

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