When one thinks about Earl Of Derby’s best run, one would probably select either his third place behind Louis The King in the Grade 1 SA Derby or the 0.75-length second behind Judicial in the Grade 2 Victory Moon Stakes.
Those races were over 2450m and 1800m respectively but ironically his best results have come over 1600m on the Turffontein Inside track. He has raced twice over the course and distance for two wins.
The Alec Laird-trained runner takes to his favourite track and trip in Race 5 today and it would come as no surprise for him to notch up a third successive victory. It is not the strongest field ever assembled and based on his last couple of starts, this MR 92 Handicap is a drop in class.
Two runs back he contested the Victory Moon Stakes again and finished a 6.20-length fifth behind Deo Juvente and last time he featured in a strongly contested Pinnacle Stakes over 1800m, again on the Inside track, in which he led for much of the journey before fading into fifth place behind Killua Castle. SA Derby winner Legal Eagle finished second which indicates the strength of the race.
The average merit rating of that race was 104 while it was 97 in the Victory Moon.
This race has an average rating of 86.
Andrew Fortune takes the ride aboard the five-year-old son of National Assembly for the first time.
The two main dangers come from the Geoff Woodruff yard but in one case it looks too short while in the other I’m not sure if he is good enough to beat Earl Of Derby. Loco Por Ganar has an excellent record over this course and distance. He has raced four times for two wins, a second and a third, but his wins have not come against this level of opposition. He was beaten 2.60 lengths by Bulleting Home last time while a run earlier he beat Finchatton by 0.20 lengths.
Shea Devon, on the other hand, has run behind the likes of Judicial and Silver Scooter but his best runs have been over 2000m. He also seems to have a preference for the outside track with its long home straight.
However, he does have champion jockey Gavin Lerena in the irons and that deserves some respect.