Epsom Derby Preview

Currently, 29 runners are entered for the contest, but only 20 will actually be in the gates at 4.30pm on the 5th of June. Of those 29, here are my three picks for the race: a short price, an each-way price and a big outsider.

Win – High Definition (4/1)

Yet again, O’Brien has a star-studded line-up for the Derby and currently has eight entered for the race. The top two in the ante-post market, Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition, are both trained by the Irishman and it is the latter that I fancy to come home in front in the Classic.

The colt finished third on his seasonal reappearance behind Hurricane Lane, 8/1 for this race, and Megallan in the Dante Stakes earlier this month. The colt did plenty wrong over that 1m2f trip but the way he finished was very impressive. He dwelled approaching the final three furlongs before unleashing an eye-catching turn of foot and finishing fastest of them all, with his sectionals from those furlongs suggesting the step up in trip should suit.

I suspect that there will be a pace collapse in the race as, with last year’s renewal in mind, no one will want to allow an O’Brien horse to bowl along in front freely. Therefore, I would be most confident siding with a horse that will stay on powerfully like High Definition; I’m hoping he becomes only the second ever horse to be beaten in the Dante and then win the Derby.

Each Way – Mohaafeth (8/1)

It was hard not to be taken back by Mohaafeth’s crushing display in the Newmarket Stakes on the 1st of May. William Haggas’ Frankel colt made a mockery of his three rivals by winning on the bit, with odds-on favourite Secret Protector finishing a distant second.

The three-year-old travels incredibly well and has shown in his last three runs that he can be tactically flexible, but, if possible, Jim Crowley will probably want to be prominent with him. There was significant improvement between his win in April, where he was very keen in the early stages, and his recent run, so I expect him to improve again before this race. Although we haven’t seen him truly battle to the line on grass yet, he did show a great turn of foot and attitude on the all-weather at Lingfield in March.

The concern for Mohaafeth is the ground as Haggas has said that he will not run on soft ground as it ‘blunts his turn of foot’. Therefore, placing an ante-post bet on this colt without ‘non-runner, no bet’ conditions is very risky and I would advise waiting closer to the day if you are considering backing him.

Outsider – Gloucestershire (100/1)

At odds of 100/1, there are obvious risks attached to the bet. However, Gloucestershire looked a good contender for the Derby when winning a maiden at Kempton in December. But frustratingly for connections, he has taken a while to recover from an off-hind infection which has prevented him from returning to the track.

Now on the search for a race before the Derby, Gloucestershire showed enough on his debut to warrant a small punt in my opinion. The colt stormed home under a strong ride from Tom Marquand to win a maiden by just over a length, but it was his turn of foot two furlongs out that caught the eye. Gloucestershire was in the rear of the pack and travelling nicely, but as he became short of room Marquand found a small gap and asked his mount to pick up. Under hands and heels, Gloucestershire powered through the pack and it was that sudden change of gear that won him the race.

Given that we don’t know how Gloucestershire will take to grass, whether he has improved for that run and if he will handle a step up in trip, you can understand why bookies have him at a triple-figure price. But, personally, those unknowns also make him a fair outsider.