Derby Festival outsider picks

As the country prepares to go Jubilee crazy this weekend, celebrations meet head-on with one of the biggest jewels in the Flat racing season with all eyes on Epsom Downs.

With two days of top-tier competition in the offing, Emily Upjohn and Desert Crown are amongst the favourites for the Oaks and Derby respectively but with an eye to the outsiders across the weekend, which horses could place or steal the limelight?

Here are five picks we reckon might do well take at a decent whack.

World Pool Handicap, Friday, 14:35

The second race of the festival catches the eye, not least Cap Francais. Ian Williams’ 6-year-old, sire of the legendary Frankel won impressively at Newmarket in the Guineas Festival at a handsome price of 22/1.

A winner in four of 19 races over the flat, Cap Francais can be had at best price of 10/1 with SkyBet, who offer four places at 1/4.

Interestingly, the same horse beat Forest Falcon into fourth at Newmarket but the Irish ride is set to go off at a shorter price. With the slight asterisk that Williams could opt for the Cazoo Handicap instead, if the going suits, Cap Francais could make the trip.

Coronation Cup, Friday, 15:10

With a winner in the bank (hopefully), Living Legend in the Coronation Cup is a good punt for a quick double. Like Cap’, Living Legend was impressive on the Rowley Mile in Suffolk – beating 9/4f Yibir in the Jockey Club Stakes – and has won the last three races, entered at Newcastle and Kempton also.

As Joe Fanning looks to make it four-in-a-row in Surrey on Friday, likely favourite Pyledriver will be the one to beat but Living Legend has already proved he can take down the big names.

At 9/1 with William Hill and BetFred despite carrying only 2 places, this could be a no-brainer and looks overpriced given his form.


Cazoo Diomed Stakes, Saturday, 15:10

As focus switches to Derby day on Saturday, the two races before the main event could also bring in the spoils starting with Escobar in the Diomed Stakes.

Modern News is the clear favourite here for the dominant pair of Will Buick and Charlie Appleby, but another of their favoured rides in Native Trail lost in the Guineas to stablemate Coroebus so Danny Tudhope will believe here.

Victorious at York over 7f a fortnight ago, Escobar may struggle over the longer trip, but if he stays on will finish well. A good e/w bet at least for 14/1 with Betfair and PaddyPower although it should be noted that this race will only pay 2 places as a maximum also.

Simpex Express Dash, Saturday, 15:45

For a second Ian Williams’ mount, we reckon Mokaatil could make an impression in the Express Dash in the capable hands of Harry Davies.

Winner on the Downs during Derby trials weekend by over a length last month, the Biddestone Stud ride has form on the course despite being beaten at both Chester and Goodwood more recently.

Currently set at 10/1 with most bookies, PaddyPower and Betfair are offering 5 places instead of 4, although at a 1/5 instead of 1/4. Watch for a late run to the line.

Cazoo Derby, Saturday, 16:30

So Desert Crown looks the sure favourite for the Derby? Correct.

Unbeaten in the colt’s fledgling career, Sir Michael Stoute looks bullish for Epsom this weekend and the horse looks in superb condition. However, if one name could challenge from the pack at a sizeable price, Star of India might just be involved in the shake-up.

Winner in the Homeserve Dee Stakes at Chester in May, Star of India beat the very able Sonny Liston and also took the win at Leopardstown last October by over 2 lengths.

Rather left in the dust by both by Native Trail and Claymore in the Craven earlier in the flat season, ‘India rather flattered to deceive amongst a more elite field but has the capacity for a strong showing in the Derby.

Beginning to shorten from 20/1 to 18s with SkyBet, Star of India is as short as 14/1 with 10Bet and Ladbrokes but for the best price, Betfred’s 16/1 for 4 places should cover a good e/w finish.

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