The ground was described as good to soft at Epsom on Saturday morning ahead of the Derby although a dry warm day is expected. Conditions could be nearly good come post time for the classic although it could also be tacky and holding.
The card begins with a fascinating 10f handicap for the classic generation and King Frankel carried my cash when runner up in the London Cup at Newbury last time. A 6lbs rise for a 4L defeat looks harsh on the face of it, but that is one of the best 3-y-old handicaps of the season and the Mark Johnston colt is a must for any shortlist. He is short enough in the betting at 2/1, however, and Greatgadian (2.00) is an each way alternative.
The selection – 11/2 with MansionBet – refused to settle on soft ground at Sandown on his first start over today’s trip but there is likely to be more pace on this afternoon and he is certainly bred to appreciate ten furlongs. If he learns to drop his head, he is potentially well treated off his opening mark.
I was looking forward to seeing Maximal drop back to a mile for the first time this season in the Gp 3 Diomed Stakes but he was taken out of the race on Friday on account of the rain. The Crisfords’ Century Dream (3.10) has won two of the last three renewals – it was held at Newbury in 2020 – and conditions have come right for the seven-year-old although his run on reappearance in the Lockinge has to be considered disappointing.
Aidan O’Brien saddles just one in the Derby for the first time since 2004 but that one is the short priced favourite Bolshoi Ballet who dotted up in the Derrinstown Stud Derby trial at Leopardstown last time with subsequent Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney over 6L back in fourth. The latter is the only Group 1 winner in the field – also won the Vertem Futurity as a juvenile – and is a threat to all but the each way recommendation is the unbeaten Hurricane Lane (4.30).
The selection – 13/2 with William Hill 4 places – won the Dante at York last month and that is the best trial – certainly in Britain. You could argue that Coolmore must think Bolshoi Ballet is in a different class to High Definition – beaten 2L by Hurricane Lane at York – to save the latter for the Irish Derby at the Curragh at the end of the month, but Evens is a short enough price for the favourite and Hurricane Lane looks a real fighter. The 9s with William Hill who are offering 4 places looks fair. Note the market leader has drifted out to 13/8 at the time of posting.
In the opener at Doncaster, I hope to see Idilico (1.20) go one better than when runner up to a progressive filly at Nottingham last time. The selection – 7/2 with 10Bet – was slowly away and met trouble in running on that occasion but that was not the difference between winning and losing. The hope is that he won’t bump into one as well treated this afternoon. It is a pity that none of Epsom’s rain hit south yorkshire, but Ian Williams has his string in good form and I hope Idilico will be ridden more prominently this afternoon.
In the Edinburgh Cup at Musselburgh Dhushan (3.25) is a confident selection for William Haggas having easily landed the odds at Haydock last time. The colt had finished runner up in both previous starts, but he is bred to be better than his current mark. A son of Sea The Stars, the selection looks to have inherited his father’s stamina and he will need to win today of he is to make the field in the King George V Handicap at the Royal meeting later in the month. Friday’s 7/4 looked too big and he is into 6/5 with William Hill at the time of posting.
I thought Fitzroy (2.40) jumped well at Perth on his chase debut and is taken to go one better in the Beginners Chase at Hexham for Olly Murphy and Aidan Coleman. The selection won a good ground hurdle at Market Rasen on his penultimate start but promises to be a better chaser. He meets nothing of the calibre of Ballymoy – his Perth conqueror – this afternoon. The selection is 10/11 with BetVictor.
There is a terrific Novice Chase at Worcester and I hope to see Captain Tom Cat (1.45) follow up his fluent Aintree success when he made all in the manner of an exciting recruit to the larger obstacles. He will be tough to beat if he jumps with the same fluency. Friday’s 6/4 was the wrong price and he is into 4/5 with BetVictor at the time of posting.