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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Bookies left divided over Cliffs Of Moher's Epsom chance

Cliffs Of Moher (centre) beats Bay Of Poets and (left) and Max Zorin in the Dee Stakes
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When the experts can't agree about what a result means, what chance have the rest of us got?

Racing may be all about opinions but bookmakers have to back theirs with hard cash. Getting things wrong can be very expensive and bitter experience teaches them to be better than most at judging whether the latest hotpot is actually a cold turkey – and they usually tend to be of like mind.

But anyone assessing the Dee Stakes solely through its impact on the ante-post Derby market can be forgiven for scratching their heads in confusion.  

Some firms took the view that there is an awful lot more to come from the highly-touted Cliffs Of Moher, that the winner had scored with ultimate authority, would improve considerably for his first run of the year and that he had to be cut in price for the Derby as a result.

Yet others felt the latest Ballydoyle wonder still has plenty to prove after a "workmanlike" success at 4-5 under Ryan Moore and reckoned that his chance of success at Epsom was no greater at 3pm than it had been at 2pm.

Ryan Moore on his way to victory on board Cliffs Of Moher

Paddy Power left the Aidan O'Brien-trained colt unchanged at 6-1 and spokesman Paul Binfield said: "His performance wasn't quite as impressive as his supporters would have hoped for. The initial 6-1 was factoring in the fact that he might come and win this well.

"You can't crab him too much as it was first time out for the season but we'd like to have seen a little more zip and sparkle to have made us take the scissors to his price."

Coral also stuck with 6-1, in a market headed by 2,000 Guineas-winning stablemate Churchill, and spokesman David Stevens said: "The vibes had been strong around Cliffs Of Moher all spring and that had been reflected in his price contracting in recent weeks.

"His performance in the Dee Stakes was solid rather than spectacular and with Lingfield and York to come as well as a decision on Churchill and Epsom, we were happy to leave him unchanged."

But Boylesports were moved to make Cliffs Of Moher 4-1 favourite from 6-1 and spokesman Leon Blanche said: "He had been backed for the Derby before the race today and it looked as though Ryan gave him a good education, It was only the third run of his life and I'd say there will be massive improvement to come."

Sky Bet (5-1 from 7-1) agreed and Michael Shinners said: "With questions marks about the participation of Churchill and nothing really stamping their authority on the Derby picture we have decided to keep on the right side of him.

"Cliffs Of Moher looks a definite runner and judged on that performance there are no doubts about his ability to stay the Derby trip."

A lot more to come

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, those closest to Cliffs Of Moher were more in the second camp than the first and were inclined to take a positive view of the colt's length-and-a-half defeat of Bay Of Poets.

Coolmore UK representative Kevin Buckley said: "He's going to come on an awful lot for that. He hasn't run since October so that was a big step up for him. He was slow out of the stalls and Ryan had to work on him round the track. He learned a lot. He has finished off his race nicely and Ryan is happy, he said he will improve a ton.

"We're going to see what happens at Lingfield tomorrow, we're going to run Sir John Lavery, and we'll probably have something at York as well. But it's highly likely that he will be Epsom-bound on that performance."

It's to be hoped that Sir John Lavery's effort in the Lingfield Derby Trial is rather more conclusive, if only for the blood pressure of those poor odds-compilers.


Homeserve Dee Stakes result and analysis

We'd like to have seen a little more zip and sparkle to have made us take the scissors to his price
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