Steve Hughes looks ahead to Derby Day with selections in four races at Epsom including an each-way fancy for the feature.
Aidan O’Brien managed to land the Oaks yesterday with his least fancied of three runners and it could be a case of déjà vu for the Derby with O’Brien saddling another three contenders – again it might not be the obvious one that comes out on top.
Epsom 3.45: Perfect Muse
A high draw is greatly favoured on fast ground over the flying 5f at Epsom and for that reason I have concentrated on those drawn twelve and above given their distinct advantage. Of those Perfect Muse is the one that appeals most.
The 5yo is proving something of a late developer, only winning her first race as a 4yo when scrambling home at Newbury last June. She then went on two gain two further successes last season at Sandown and latterly at Salisbury despite enduring a very troubled passage – displaying a terrific late burst of speed to get out of trouble.
However it was perhaps her last two runs in defeat that flagged up her chances for today. She travelled like much the best horse on soft ground at Pontefract before tiring on the stiff finish and deep going late on during her final race of 2014. Her comeback run at Goodwood last month confirmed she has the pace to cope with this speed test, keeping on nicely into third and she will have come on nicely for that run with today in mind.
Epsom 4.30: Hans Holbein
There might be classier horses than Hans Holbein in the line up but if you want a horse at a decent price that can be relied upon to keep galloping in what could prove to be a real stamina test then Aidan O’Brien’s colt looks the one to side with.
The son of Montjeu himself can force the early pace, but he may not need to with Epicuris and Success Days both natural front-runners. I would still expect Seamie Heffernan to ride him handily to make use of his proven stamina because several of his rivals are not proven stayers, principally the favourite and form horse Golden Horn.
He warmed up for this race with an all the way win in the Chester Vase over the full 12f and he reminds me of the stable’s Ruler of the World winner of the 2013 renewal in being something of a grinder he will keep galloping once others have cried enough.
Epsom 5.15: Adventure Seeker & Jakey
A maximum field of 20 over the full Derby trip should mean a real battle for track position early on and this could favour hold up horses able to stay on late on. I have two against the field who usually do their best running late on.
Adventure Seeker is one who interests me most as he is largely ignored in the betting on the back of two sub-standard runs this spring. However the first was on unsuitably slow ground and the second was at a time the Ed Vaughan yard was going through a quiet spell. They are right back in form now, and the 4yo looks well in on the evidence of his runs last summer. He has not won since producing a tremendous late burst to win at York’s Dante meeting but was second over 14f there at the Ebor fixture and was second in a fiercely run valuable handicap at Newmarket in October, his last start of 2014. Only 2lbs higher today he will also get his favoured fast ground.
Locally trained Jakey acts well on this undulating track, winning his maiden here and also winning a fast ground 10f handicap last season, he looks to have been trained with this race in mind. To that end he has only raced once this season, over course and distance when narrowly beaten by Lungarno Palace at the April fixture. He has been ridden with restraint to great success in recent races as he had a tendency race keenly early on and those tactics could be ideal for this cavalry charge.
Epsom 5.50: Swiss Cross
Unlike the 5f trip a low draw is great advantage over 6f here, at least when there is a big field like today. Course specialist Swiss Cross has secured the ideal berth in one and looks to have been trained all season with this race in mind.
6f is a minimum requirement for him these days, but he proved he retains plenty of ability when fourth over 5f here in April, running on strongly in the closing stages. He has had two quiet runs on the All Weather most recently but has dropped to a mark of just 82 now, his lowest since his 3yo days back in 2010.
He won this very race in 2011 since when his course record reads 14244214 and he loves this rattling fast ground. David Probert replaces an apprentice jockey and provided he gets a little luck in running he can take advantage of that plunging handicap mark.
1pt each-way – Perfect Muse – 3.45 Epsom – 10/1 Bet365, BetVictor
1pt each-way – Hans Holbein – 4.30 Epsom – 16/1 general
0.5 pts each-way – Adventure Seeker – 5.15 Epsom – 14/1 general
1pt win – Jakey – 5.15 Epsom – 12/1 general
1pt win – Swiss Cross – 5.50 Epsom – 13/2 general