It’s Derby day and we’ve dusted down the top hat and cans of Stella for a day on the sofa. Only joking – of course our cans of Stella didn’t need to be dusted down. With two Group 1’s and a few very competitive handicaps coming up at Epsom we’re going to need all the help we can get picking some winners.
As always, the system is straightforward. We reckon that to be competitive in any race a horse needs to have form of the distance, perform well at the trip and be in decent current form. Each element is handy, but when you have all three of them working together, you should generally have a horse with a decent shot, very often at a tasty price. It’s worked out pretty well in the past so we’re going to run with for a while.
It’s a tricky day of punting, but we’ve picked out a few races where there may be a bit of value, starting with the Derby and then looking at a couple of the contests on the undercard.
Epsom Derby – 4.15
A life on easy street awaits the winner of the Epsom Derby with an after-racing career at stud likely to dwarf anything connections earn at the track – except possibly for Carbon Dating.
Aidan O’Brien has won the last three Epsom Derbys but has been struggled more than Newcastle United his season to find a stand-out contender from his enviable list of blue bloods.
Hans Holbein ticks all the boxes after winning a soft-ground Chester Vase over the Derby trip (beating Storm the Stars) and Ruler of the World took that route when following up here in 2013.
But Ryan Moore (looking for a hat-trick in the Classics this year) deserts him now for stable-mate Giovanni Canaletto and we’ve seen more money for him than a FIFA official at a World Cup bid since he switched.
But the Dante Stakes at York looks the key trial here with the winner Golden Horn, second-placed Jack Hobbs and third Elm Park all re-opposing and all have something to prove.
John Gosden is convinced Golden Horn will stay 1m 4f – even if his owner has his doubts – and he was as smooth as silk when comfortably putting stable-mate Jack Hobbs and Andrew Balding’s Elm Park away on the Knavesmire.
Both Jack Hobbs and ELM PARK will need juice in the ground to show their best but Andrew Balding’s runner was making his seasonal debut at York and was an impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy over 1m last year – although the ground was soft.
Has a similar profile to last year’s second Kingston Hill and looks a bit of value unless the ground rides lightning quick. Any losses should be recovered in the St Leger come September.
Selection: Elm Park
Investec Private Banking Stakes – 2.00
Derby day kicks off with an interesting contest. Lots of the field are ruled out from not having form over the distance. That’s not to say they’ve flopped at the distance, they just don’t have proven form over the distance. Falling into that category is Stravagante for Sir Micheal Stoute. If you are looking to back a market leader, the improving Resonant looks the more solid option. Dutch Uncle also ticks all of our boxes and should get into the frame, but further down the betting there are a couple of more intriguing options at bigger prices.
CYMRO chinned the 1/6 favourite, Sir Isaac Newton at Chester and although that was painted as a flop for Ballydoyle, his win at Gowran Park last week suggests his no hairy goat. Tom Dascombe’s three-year-old is carrying just shy of top weight in this race which is a negative, but he looks like an improver so we’re hoping he can deal with that burden. Also worth a look at a big price is Cornelious. He’s stepping up in class, but has a low weight to carry, looks to be at his best on good ground over 10 furlongs and is definitely a potential improver.
Investec Epsom “Dash” – 3.45
A five furlong sprint handicap takes centre stage ahead of the main event and as the name suggests, it’s an absolute lottery. More open than a ‘who likes be bribed the most?’ competition at FIFA. There’s no-one you could rule out conclusively and which sounds bad, but suggests there’s potentially value looking further down the field.
Caspian Prince is likely to go off favourite and he ticks all the boxes, but he’s carrying top weight. His 11 length defeat to Sole Power in March was the worst 14th placed finish you’ll ever see, but it does show question marks. For those probably flimsy reasons, we’re looking at other contenders. Normal Equilibrium, Monsieur Joe, Monumental Man, Perfect Muse, Silvanus and Humidor are all positioned neatly in the middle, but the one of most interest to us is CHICLET. The Tracey Collins trained four-year-old has won three on the bounce and although you can call into question the standard of opposition she faced in those contests, she’s managed to achieve good consistency and shouldn’t be out of her depth here.