Fay Fay can repeat his Derby triumph

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am


The likelihood of a soft tempo and a replay of the way the Hong Kong Derby was run gives the John Size-trained Fay Fay his chance this afternoon to repel the foreign challenge in the Group One Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000m).

Everything about this year's QE II Cup says that tempo and position are going to hold all the keys to the winner, and that is a space where Fay Fay (Douglas Whyte) and the Aidan O'Brien-trained Treasure Beach (Jamie Spencer) have the right stuff.

Hong Kong Derby winners don't have the greatest of records in the race as they rise from the four-year-old races, which are virtually Class One events, into the open Group One company of the international stage.

Even some impressive Derby winners of days gone by have found the rise too much for them coming on the back of peaking for the classic, and Fay Fay could hardly be described as one of the more impressive winners of the race, but what he does look like getting is a similar running style that will play against many of his most dangerous older rivals.

It is always tricky to declare that such and such a race has no pace and will be slowly run - the gates fly open and it becomes obvious that everyone has done their homework and that no-one is about to let such declaration pass without notice.

But the flies in the ointment today are hard to find - those drawn inside will be happy with their lot and looking for cover just off the speed rather than press the lead, those drawn in the middle would have to be pressured to get around them and run the risk of overracing as a result. They are more likely to settle for holding midfield.

And those wider out - Pure Champion, Thumbs Up, California Memory - are backmarkers and will damage their hopes if they do anything but steady from the gates.

California Memory and Pure Champion have led at times but overrace doing it and have been uncompetitive on those occasions. Thumbs Up raced forward early in Collection's Derby in a surprise tactical gambit and finished second but drew two there, has never won doing it and is three years older now.

Which will bring us back to the two outside draws - Fay Fay and Treasure Beach.

On the page, Treasure Beach is the only runner to have consistently raced with the lead throughout his career. That he has drawn the outside will make little difference, in fact, it may even help as he has only a horse on one side, can't be shut out at the start, but can gather himself to work around the field to the lead.

That was the pattern in Fay Fay's Derby. The lead sectional was just 25.7 seconds into the first turn, allowing Whyte to cover some ground to get forward from barrier 14 but as he said later he 'got there for free', then a steady next 1000m allowed Fay Fay to wind through his gears from before the home turn, then run home in almost 22 seconds flat. The layout of the race looks like a carbon copy - if anything, it has fewer potential pacemakers.

Although 25.7 seconds for the first 400m would still be quicker than he's used to running, Treasure Beach must be expected to come out looking for the front. If he can get there without much stress, he is a strong 2,400m stayer and the danger for his rivals is that he has a breather down the back of the track then gets going a fair way from home.

He could turn it into not just a fast last 400m but a fast last 800m and really drag the sprint out of his rivals, but Fay Fay is likely to be there with him most of the way and ready for a grind home.


The winning strike rate for John Size and Douglas Whyte, who have combined 220 times this campaign