After a Frankie Friday, it’s the big day on the Downs. Derby Day. It’s one of the most unpredictable yet. Arrest went into favouritism last night, but is he the one to win the big race? And who will win the the Dash? All those questions will be answered, as we take a look at four of the Best Bets on Derby Day.
12:50 – Betfred Diomed Stakes (Group Three) – Kolasi @ 3/1
The aperitif to the Derby is the Diomed. And it doesn’t look the best of renewals, but Kolasi looks the best horse in the race. She is the only three-year-old, and is receiving a lot of weight from her rivals. Her form from four starts suggests that she’ll like the firm ground, and that she can handle undulation. There are plenty of unknowns and this is a step up in class. But the field, on paper at least, don’t look the best quality and are there for the taking.
1:30 – BETFRED DERBY (GROUP ONE) – DUBAI MILE @ 18/1
The more I Iook at this horse, the more I think he’s overpriced. He’s a Group One winner as a two-year-old, beating Arrest by a head, and he’s versatile to the ground. On ratings, he’s only behind Auguste Rodin and Arrest. Charlie Johnston has been firing in the winners and has an excellent strike rate. Plus, Ahmad Al Shaikh, the owner, has had a decent record in the last three Derby’s, including Khalifa Sat and Hoo Ya Mal. His breeding suggests he’ll fall short of this trip, but Johnston horses always dig deep and can push further. The Dam’s sire was High Chapparal, so he does have some Epsom blood running though him. He has a decent draw in stall five, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out.
I also like White Birch, for John Joseph Murphy. He lost by a neck to The Foxes at York and on the replay, he seems to be the one to take out of the race. Passenger looked to be staying on late, but didn’t seem to carry on much after the winning post. The Foxes looked to tough it out over the trip and not go much further. White Birch looks to be the one to take out. He’s by Ulysees, which means he will stay. His half-brother stays 1m 3F, which suggests he’ll get the trip. He’ll have to overcome a tricky-ish draw in stall two, but he looks to be one to watch at an each-way price of 12/1.
Personally, I think the principles are hyped up. Auguste Rodin finished 12th of 14 in the Guineas. That’s the worst result of a Derby trial for any horse. How can he be deemed favourite? Favourites also have a terrible record in the Derby, in recent years. Aidan O’Brien can work miracles, but after such a disappointing run, he can’t be trusted. Arrest ran well at Chester, and he has the Frankie factor, but the ground is massively against him. John Gosden said Arrest will need a lot of rain overnight. He won’t get it.
Which means by default, Military Order gets the nod. His stamina will be tested on firm ground, but he is a full brother to Adayar, and that points him in the right direction to win. But I think the ground might catch him out. He’ll certainly have a crack at the top three, so he gets in the tricast.
Tricast: Dubai Mile, White Birch, Military Order
2:10 – Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Group Three) – Prosperous Voyage @ 11/8
Prosperous Voyage may not have returned well, but everything seems to be in her favour here. She relishes firm ground, she’s a course winner and the top-rated horse. She will have blown the cobwebs away at Newmarket and should be back to her best at Epsom and Frankie will make amends for Derby disappointment.
3:20 – Epsom DASH (Heritage Handicap) – Clarendon House @ 15/2
It’s a little bit of a lottery the Epsom Dash, and it’s the same this year. But it seems the stars have aligned for this horse. Stall two has proven to be a good draw over the years, he’ll be right up with the pace, and has won five times on firm ground. The stable are starting to turn a corner with a winner last Friday and a second during the week, and Danny Muscutt may be riding on a high from his Derby heroics. If not, he’ll want to win this race. The form from the York dash played out last week, with Mondammej just beaten narrowly by Chipstead. It could work wonders here.
Each-way plays are the way to go for the Dash, and Lihou is one of them. Middle to high draws are the favoured places to be, Lihou is drawn in 18. Plus, he is at an advantage, winning at C&D earlier this season at the Riband meeting. That was on soft ground, but he can perform on firmer. He’s also, only 2lbs higher than that win in April, and is running fresh off a narrow second at Goodwood. A good play at 12/1.
Another play is Look Out Louis who has things in his favour over the flying five. In September, he won in similar conditions over the five furlongs at Haydock, and is only one pound higher than that winning mark. He looks to have blown the cobwebs away since the Chester run, and can be back to his best on the Downs, from a decent draw in six, at 12/1.
The very best of luck on Derby Day!
(And, Come On United for the FA Cup!!)
All prices are from Betfred, proud sponsors of the Epsom Derby