Epsom Derby A-Z and best bets

1m4f  (1m4f6y) Cazoo Derby (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Entire Colts & Fillies)  (Class 1) (3yo)

I was very keen to back High Definition before he and all the Coolmore horses bar Bolshoi Ballet were withdrawn, but their absence does no harm to this year’s renewal of the great race as a betting proposition. Here’s my A-Z and best bets for this year’s race.

Adayar 33/1

Lacks the speed to win a Derby and might be better over further. Rotten draw.

Bolshoi Ballet 5/4

Possesses plenty of speed and his low, smooth action would flourish on fast ground, but the rain has come and that’s a negative for his chances. Ominous he’s the only Ballydoyle runner given the operation is built around winning this race, but the lack of a pacemaker is a bit of an alarm bell to me. Perhaps Ballydoyle don’t want an end-to-end gallop and there are some stamina doubts in the camp? He could make the running.

Gear Up 50/1

Has shown nothing so far this year but beat the favourite in a Group One as a juvenile, but heavy going was a very valid excuse for that and he’s probably not classy enough for a Derby winner.

Hurricane Lane 6/1

Admirable winner of the Dante but he had a hard race there and didn’t hit the line as strong as you’d like to see from a horse stepping up in trip. His striding suggests 12f might stretch him but his pedigree says otherwise. He’s neither here nor there for me at 6/1.

John Leeper 9/1

I was taken by his Newmarket run, which was a falsely run race where he got the job done. Reading his form literally doesn’t point to him being a Derby winner but he’s bred to be top class and the hype has been enticing. My hunch is he hits the ground quite hard with his action so soft ground will be okay. This might come too early in his career, though.

Mac Swiney 9/1

A dual Group One winner over a mile, most recently in the Irish Guineas. He’s therefore the form horse but both those successes came on bad ground and his stamina is far from assured based on his striding and his sole go beyond a mile, when thumped by Bolshoi Ballet. However, he returned a bad blood sample and clearly proved his form next time out so stamina would be the only real question mark remaining.

Mohaafeth 9/1

Could be anything but the ground might have turned against him. He strides like a 12f horse but hasn’t got any Group race form, and his easy Listed win last time out was exaggerated by a pace collapse. He does, however, have some collateral form with Highland Avenue, a miler I rate very highly.

Mojo Star 80/1

Put up by Richard Hannon as a stable star in his early season tours, this horse is entered in the Arc off the back of one run as a juvenile. It’s difficult to ignore such lofty targets and the fact he is running in a Derby as a maiden is compelling. He’s got a nice pedigree and his two starts to date have been full of promise – he pulled 8l clear of the third and went down half a length to a subsequent winner. That form is well below Group One class but he’s an enormous price.

One Ruler 14/1

It’s hard to find a reason why 14/1 is too big as he’s been consistently held at this grade and isn’t an obvious one to improve for this trip. His best form is also on softer going, so the rain might help.

Southern Lights 33/1

It would be a big leap of faith to bet on him reversing placing with Bolshoi Ballet and the truth is there just isn’t enough evidence to believe the market has him wrong.

Third Realm 12/1

I really like this horse but he’s been shafted by the draw. He likes to be held up and swoop late and he might have no choice but to try and come from the back and through traffic to win this. A strong pace isn’t guaranteed and that’s not going to suit him but he’s got lots of class.

Youth Spirit 33/1

He looks a bit overpriced on his Chester form, but lacks a bit of the class of a typical Derby winner. The rain on Friday will have helped his chance no end.

The verdict

MOJO STAR has to be backed each-way at 80/1 with up to five places on offer. Getting him placed is my idea of the best value in the race as he’s completely unexposed and his connections must really like him to enter him here and in the Arc off the back of two maidens. I’m expecting Bolshoi Ballet to make the running if nothing else wants to, given the lack of a pacemaker, but I’ve major doubts he will be able to quicken like he did at Leopardstown with give in the ground. Value is everything in betting and MAC SWINEY is too big at 9/1. He, Bolshoi Ballet and Hurricane Lane are the clear form horses but the other two are significantly shorter in the market. This has been Mac Swiney’s number one target all season and I’m more than happy to take a chance on his stamina, particularly as every drop of rain yesterday will have suited and I think this could be a Derby run at a moderate pace, where those at the back struggle to get into the picture.

1pt win Mac Swiney @9/1, 16:30 Epsom, Saturday
0.5pts each-way Mojo Star @66/1, 16:30 Epsom, Saturday (1-5, 1/5 Sky Bet)

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