Saturday Racing Preview
Epsom takes centre stage for this weekend’s preview, where dreams will come true in flat racing’s blue ribboned event, the Cazoo Derby. A strong looking field of twelve are set to go to post and they are headed by Aiden O’Brien’s sole representative, Bolshoi Ballet. Frankie Dettori has scooped the ride aboard the exciting John Leeper, whilst Mac Swiney will look to complete a quick-fire Classic double having won the Irish 2000 Guineas. Elsewhere on the card at Epsom, we have a pair of Group 3’s and a whole host of competitive looking handicaps, including the World Pool “Dash” over a blistering five furlongs! Fingers crossed we can highlight a few to go well at nice prices.
Patient can provide Murphy and Beckett with the Dream start
The first race on Epsom Derby day is a competitive looking handicap over a mile and two furlongs. King Frankel currently heads the betting for Mark Johnston after a good second at Newbury last time out. He is entitled to run another big race but has gone up a further 6lbs for a 4-length defeat. At his current odds of 2/1, I would be inclined to look elsewhere. Freak Out is a horse who visually appears to be crying out for this step up in trip having finished off his last two starts over a mile in powerful fashion. Headgear has also been applied for the first time and there could be plenty of improvement to come off a mark of 81. Another who could improve plenty for the step up in trip is Patient Dream 9/2 for Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy. The son of Al Kazeem will need to settle a tad better over the longer trip, but the form of his reappearance win at the track in April could not look any stronger. The second, third, fourth, sixth and eighth have all come out and won since, meaning the subsequent 7lb rise for Patient Dream could look very lenient. At the time of writing, both Beckett and Murphy are in fine form, boasting strike rates of 28% and 27% respectively. Let’s hope we don’t have to be Patient for the Dream start!
Rank outsider not without a chance in first Group 3
The first of two Group 3’s is next up on the card over an extended mile. Maamora heads the current betting and has strong claims on the pick of her form last season. She will need to take a big step forward after a slightly disappointing reappearance run. Of those towards the top of the market, Posted made most appeal to me but was another who needs to take a big step forward for her reappearance run. As a result, I have decided to side with one of the outsiders in the shape of Queen Kahlua 50/1 for Stuart Williams and Adam Kirby. She caught my eye when making her stable debut over 6 furlongs in listed company. Slowly into stride and subsequently held up, Queen Kahlua stayed on nicely into fourth. This step up to a mile on better ground looks an interesting move and being by Kingman and out of a middle-distance mare, her pedigree would suggest significant improvement could be on the cards now racing over a mile. In a race where a few of the market principles have to bounce back, she may be worth chancing at massive odds.
Side with youth in the Cazoo Diamond Stakes
Century Dream is the current 11/4 favourite for the Group 3 Cazoo Diamond Stakes over a mile. On previous course form and Official Ratings, he sets the standard, but I believe he is worth taking on with Sir Michael Stoute’s Maximal 7/2. Officially rated 107 he has 7lbs to find on ratings with Century Dream, but he does receive 12lbs thanks to the three-year-old allowance. This puts him bang there on figures, but I also like pieces of his form. Two runner up spots this season have come to subsequent Dante winner Hurricane Lane and French Derby hopeful El Drama. This drop back to a mile looks a good move and this impeccably bred colt can strike for a trainer who doesn’t often throw his younger horses into the deep end! Of the others, I thought Oh This Is Us was one who could outrun his odds. A major upset in Listed company earlier in the season proved his well being and he has gone well at Epsom a few times in the past. He could be one to sneak a place.
Sunday Sovereign can show them a clean pair of heels in the dash
The downhill five furlong straight at Epsom is one of the quickest races in the world and I am hoping the electric Sunday Sovereign 8/1 can be hard to peg back from the front. With a limited amount of large field sprints at Epsom in a season, the data for draw bias is a tad vague but the numbers would indicate a higher draw in big fields is preferred, so the fact Sunday Sovereign has drawn 19 can be seen as a positive. A 33/1 runner up for the preview on his last start, Sunday Sovereign has shown sparks of his blistering two-year-old form. The form of his last run looks solid with the sixth and seventh placed horses going on to run very well on their next starts, whilst the eighth placed horse has come out and won since. Sunday Sovereign has a 3lb rise to deal with but that should be well within his reach having previously been rated 10lbs higher. Silverstre De Sousa has chosen to ride him, and I believe the pair could be extremely hard to peg back off the front end. Sunday Sovereign has always shown scintillating gate speed and on a track where a prominent position can be key, he surely possesses all the assets required to run a massive race.
Hurricane Lane can land connections a second Derby
The 2021 Cazoo Derby looks a cracking renewal and this year’s market is headed by Bolshoi Ballet for Moore and O’Brien. The Ballydoyle maestro often throws a handful of darts at the race but this year Balshoi Ballet is his sole representative. This could be a huge clue in itself or merely Aiden O’Brien shuffling his pack. At 5/4 he is not my kind of price in what looks a very good renewal, but it is easy to see why he is the clear favourite. Two effortless wins, including a six-length success in the Derrinstown, propelled Bolshoi Ballet to the top of the market and this good moving colt looks sure to handle Epsom as a track. The form of his Derrinstown win also looks good with the reopposing Mac Swiney winning the Irish 2000 Guineas and Fernando Vichi landed listed honours at Leopardstown. Breeding would suggest he will stay the extra two furlongs and he may well provide Aiden O’Brien with a ninth Derby win.
Southern Lights and Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Mac Swiney, complete the Irish charge and both would appear to have work to do to reverse the Derrinstown form with Bolshoi Ballet. Southern Lights hasn’t been seen since that effort, so he is harder to assess but Mac Swiney did improve massively for the run when landing the Irish Classic. That did come over a mile and he must now prove he is a similar force over the extra half mile. Jim Bolger is very bullish about his staying prospects and I would agree. My main concern would be the better ground conditions. His two big wins to date, both as a two- and three-year-old, have come with considerable ease in the ground. In fact, his form on ground officially described as good or better reads 984 compared to his form on yielding or worse which reads 51111. Mac Swiney fans may want to do a rain dance!
According to the betting, the English charge this year is headed by John Leeper who will now be ridden by Frankie Dettori. Ed Dunlop’s son of Frankel looks an extremely talented individual and his last start demonstrated this. It did also demonstrate how immature he is and I would have massive question marks surrounding his mental toughness and whether this race has come too soon in his development. On the other hand, William Haggas’ Mohaafeth looked the ultimate professional when cruising to success at Newmarket on his last start. He is a perfect 3 from 3 this season but I do think he needs to improve significantly again if he is to win the Derby.
Godolphin send three runners all heralding from the Charlie Appleby yard. 2000 Guineas sixth, One Ruler, looks a nice each way price for James Doyle whilst Adayar may not be best suited to Epsom’s undulations. Hurricane Lane 9/1 looks a lovely price to me, and he is the choice of William Buick. The unbeaten son of Frankel may only have the three lifetime starts un his belt, but his mental toughness and attitude looks outstanding. He was an extremely game winner of the Dante on his last start, battling all the way through the line. He looks sure to relish every inch of the mile and a half trip and where others are yet to have a proper tussle this season, this lad seems to thrive when eye bawling his opponents. On official ratings he has a bit to find with the main market principles, but further improvement is possible, and I expect him to run a very big race!
Red Force is the One in penultimate race of the day
Group One Power currently heads the betting for the penultimate race of the day, a handicap over a mile and a half. He looks a progressive sort who may well kick on again but judged on his course and distance clash with Soto Sizzler, the latter comes off much better at the revised weights. Both were beaten on their last starts though and they could be susceptible to one on a steep upward curve. Red Force One 14/1 has always been a horse I’ve liked, and he has caught my eye on his last two starts for new trainer Philip Kirby. Two starts ago he was a very good sixth at Aintree in a competitive handicap hurdle, outrunning his huge starting price odds of 100/1. Sent back on the level on his last start, he cruised through the contest and quicken away to win a four runner race at a canter. Raymond was a length back in second that day and has since come out and won, so a 5lb rise could look extremely lenient. I am hopeful he can outrun his odds and potentially get his head in front.
Kimifive can land the lucky last
The last race of the day is the Cazoo Handicap over six furlongs. Lexington Dash currently heads the betting for Hannon and Marquand and looks to have strong claims on the back of an impressive win last time out. Desert Safari is another who appears to be in fine form and is 2-3 since being gelded. I’m going to take the pair on with Kimifive 7/1 for Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy. Kimifive caught my eye on his seasonal reappearance when meeting some trouble in running and plugging on for third. I’m not sure he’d have won that day but it did represent a good reappearance. He hasn’t got his head in front for a while now but did come second in the 2020 Stewards Cup off this mark so has to be a danger now he’s race fit and seemingly in good form. His sole visit to Epsom yielded a fourth so we know he handles the track and I think the signs are there for a very big run.
As always, best of luck if you’re having a bet. Enjoy Derby day!
By Sam Rideout,
Follow me on Twitter – @TheTr17pleP