Epsom Derby Preview And Betting Tips

The world's most iconic Flat race comes up on Saturday afternoon as Epsom stages The Derby. It's a month later than normal in the re-jigged 2020 racing calendar but that won't matter to connections if they taste success in the premier Classic on The Downs. The Racing Post bring you a runner-by-runner preview to be big race plus expert betting tips to help guide you into making a front-runner decision.

 


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1. Amhran Na Bhfiann - Aidan O'Brien/William Buick

A Galileo colt, he cost 1,300,000 gns as a yearling and is a full brother to four winners, including Oaks winner Was, for this stable. He was having just his second racecourse start when fourth in a spectacularly strong Leopardstown maiden last month (trainer had first four home, winner Tiger Moth second in the Irish Derby since, with second and third behind in third/fourth). 

There could be plenty more to come and he's a lively outsider.

2. Emissary - Hugo Palmer/Jim Crowley

This Kingman colt is a half-brother to the 2010 Derby/Arc hero Workforce in these colours; winning debut on the all-weather at Wolverhampton back in October and stepped up on that in seasonal bow when neck-second in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood (evens-favourite) behind Khalifa Sat. 

He's entitled to improve again in first-time cheekpieces but this requires another leap forward.

3. English King - Ed Walker/Frankie Dettori

Form of his all-weather maiden win at Newcastle in November worked out and he was very impressive when taking Lingfield's Derby Trial on his reappearance last month, merely nudged out to score. 

Runner-up Berkshire Rocco gave subsequent Irish Derby winner Santiago a race in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot and there's likely to be plenty more under the bonnet. Frankie Dettori has been secured for this.

4. Gold Maze - Jessica Harrington/David Egan

Confirmed last year's promise when second to Crossfirehurricane over 1m2f on reappearance in Group 3 company at the Curragh but only sixth in last weekend's Irish Derby back there. 

The seven-day turnaround is a point of concern and, in any case, he'll need to improve markedly having raced quite keenly in the early stages of that contest and faded late.

5. Highland Chief - Paul Cole/Ben Curtis

Returned to action in fine style at Royal Ascot when taking out a 1m2f soft-ground handicap off a mark of 101 in first-time cheek-pieces; making a strong move from the rear of the field and seemingly getting stronger with every yard. 

Lively outsider for in-form Ben Curtis, who is riding in The Derby for the very first time.

6. Kameko - Andrew Balding/Oisin Murphy

Narrow winner of the Group 1 Vertem Futurity Stakes at Newcastle in November, he well and truly squashed any suggestion that was fortuitous when coming fast and late to foil Wichita and Pinatubo in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month. 

That pair upheld that form at Royal Ascot in a cracking St James's Palace Stakes and if he stays the extra half-mile he's going to be a massive danger to all as he loves a close finish.

7. Khalifa Sat - Andrew Balding/Tom Marquand

Backed up last year's maiden success at Goodwood when gamely repelling Emissary in the 1m3f Listed Cocked Hat Stakes back there last month. There was no fluke to that win and he could be capable of better again. 

Tom Marquand rides, having been a casualty of the 'Frankie-factor' with English King.

8. Max Vega - Ralph Beckett/Harry Bentley

Progressed quickly last season after waiting to debut in September, winning the Group 3 Zetland Stakes over 1m2f (soft) at Newmarket on third start. Disappointing in Kempton's all-weather Classic Trial on reappearance when only sixth (Pyledriver second) and has to bounce back. Could do that and is a big enough price to warrant some interest.

9. Mogul - Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore

Group 2 winner over a mile but didn't shine in the Vertem Futurity at Newcastle on final start when easy to back and only fourth as Kameko won; odds-on casualty in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on reappearance, with ground to make up on Pyledriver (first) and Mohican Heights (third) now. 

Long been viewed as leading Ballydoyle contender for this race and don't discount a much-improved showing now with Ryan Moore's colours nailed to the mast.

10. Mohican Heights - David Simcock/Andrea Atzeni

Was bought for a cool £520,000 following an impressive debut at Leopardstown in May 2019 and landed a Listed prize at Salisbury in August on sole start for new connections last season. Might just have needed the run in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on reappearance when third behind Pyledriver. 

Should be sharper and suited by the better surface forecast here. Remains a work in progress.

11. Mythical - Aidan O'Brien/James Doyle

No match for Max Vega in the Zetland Stakes in the autumn having started favourite (finished fourth) but placed afterwards in a French Group 1 in the mud. Failed to give his running on return at the Curragh in 1m2f Group 3 over 1m2f (4/5 favourite) and now has to bounce back. Sire won this in 2012 and it's not inconceivable he'll have a say at a big price.

12. Pyledriver - William Muir/Martin Dwyer

A remarkable tale for his small-time owners, he outran odds of 40-1 to be second in the Classic Trial at Kempton on the Polytrack last month and then stormed home to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Mohican Heights (third) and Mogul (fourth) behind. 

There was no fluke in that success and connections are quite confident he'll handle Epsom. Arguably the market is once again failing to pay him due respect.

13. Russian Emperor - Aidan O'Brien/Seamie Heffernan

Improving with every outing, this son of Galileo came from off the pace with a strong late challenge to win the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot (1m2f, good) last month on just his fourth start. 

Ryan Moore was on board then but he's losing nothing with Seamie Heffernan back in the saddle today and bidding to win two Derby's in seven days. Further progress is likely and he's a leading player up in trip.

14. Serpentine - Aidan O'Brien/Emmet McNamara

Confirmed his promise when sauntering nine lengths clear of his rivals to win a Curragh maiden (1m2f, good) in first-time cheekpieces a week ago. He's on the upgrade and, given connections, you'd struggle to be surprised if he was in the firing line in the run for home. He does have to improve plenty however.

15. Vatican City - Aidan O'Brien/Padraig Beggy

Won a Dundalk AW maiden on second start in October and thrown in at the deep end on comeback when he found only crack-miler Siskin too good in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Promises to offer more going up in trip and Padraig Beggy's record in Derby's for Ballydoyle means he is to be overlooked at your peril.

16. Worthily - John Gosden/Martin Harley

Point Of Entry colt makes sound appeal on pedigree and he beat a next-time-out winner in Choral Work for a winning debut at Newbury last month (1m2f, good, good to soft). 

John Gosden wouldn't be known for sending a boy on a man's errand and so his place in this esteemed company has to be viewed as an indication of the belief the trainer has in him.


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Epsom Derby Betting Tips

A different route to Epsom for the class of 2020 as The Derby falls into the schedule a month later than planned and, pointedly, after Royal Ascot.

The trials have been different, if not missing entirely, and the consequence is that we have a wide open 16-runner field assembled for the world's best-known Flat race. It's 5-2 the field and in all truth there's very few in the line-up that you'd want to cross off with a degree of certainty.

With three of the last four winners trained in Ireland by Aidan O'Brien, it's perhaps fitting that the market leader is Ed Walker's English King in his attempt to provide some home rule. He was most impressive in his Lingfield Trial win (form has been boosted) and makes solid appeal; while the booking of Frankie Dettori will ensure he carries plenty of public support. Essentially, the market has him spot on.

O'Brien fires a team of six runners as he attempts to win The Derby for the eighth time and stand alone as the winning-most trainer of all-time in the great race.

Ryan Moore partners 5-1 chance Mogul, long touted as Ballydoyle's leading contender for this prize. He has blotted his copybook to a degree either side of the winter break and, while he remains capable of better, isn't fancied at the prices.

Seamie Heffernan is a man with the Midas Touch right now and instead his mount RUSSIAN EMPEROR might be the one to give O'Brien the landmark success.

He improved to win last month at Royal Ascot, doing well having been left with plenty to do turning for home. He certainly shapes as though he will stay this trip and in Heffernan he has a pilot operating at the peak of his powers right now. He stayed on resolutely to overhaul First Receiver and win the Hampton Court and now gets his chance to shine up in trip.

You cannot rule out any of the Ballydoyle sextet in confidence and both Vatican City and Mythical could get involved.

At the front of the market, Kameko is a fair price as a 2,000 Guineas winner. He impressed there and if he stays this trip he'll relish the fight. Stamina is a concern though and only two Guineas winners since 1989 have been able to come on and win the Derby afterwards; such is the vast difference in challenge this race presents compared to the Rowley Mile Classic. Still, Oisin Murphy's mount ticks many boxes and if he gets home, it will take a massive effort to thwart him.

Perhaps there will be a fairytale with Pyledriver for William Muir. His owners are small-time in comparison with some of the powerhouses in Flat racing but the King Edward VII Stakes scorer is meritorious of a place in this line-up.

His trainer believes there is plenty of improvement in him and has suggested he anticipates Pyledriver will handle the unique Epsom test. Were he representing a Coolmore or Godolphin, it's improbable he'd come here after that display at Ascot and be as big as 16/1 in the betting.

He's not at Epsom to make up numbers and rates as a decent each-way option. The same can be said of Mohican Heights, third at Ascot behind him, and both are big prices compared with Mogul, only fourth in that race last month.

Selection: Russian Emperor @ 13/2

Next Best: Pyledriver @ 16/1

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