Steve Hughes provides his best bets for Derby day at Epsom
This does not look a vintage renewal of the Derby, and I think this can go to the favourite. However there are other good betting races on the card, so I have selections for four races in total. Manuela de Vega made the place for our each-way bet in the Oaks yesterday (SP 16/1).
Epsom 3.45: Copper Knight & Eeh Bah Gum
Trainer Tim Easterby has his string in fine fettle at present, highlighted by a hat-trick at Carlisle on Friday and his two runners both have great chances in the Dash.
Copper Knight always seems at his best in the spring, and this season has been no exception. He has already landed a big pot by making most at York and has been in the first four in big handicaps on all three other runs. At his best on fast tracks, I think he prefers this fast going despite a good recent record on slower. He simply seems to be improving at the age of five and can turn the tables on Duke of Firenze who beat him at York last week but is 5lbs worse off today.
I have been following Eeh Bah Gum for a while and I am sure his turn is near in a race of this type. I don’t think he has been ridden to best effect on his last couple of starts, but he has pace to burn and his most recent win came when last partnered by today’s pilot Jamie Gormley. He made most to win at York that day and more positive tactics today can pay dividends.
Epsom 4.30: Sir Dragonet
It is still unusual to find a Derby winner who was unraced at two (Aidan O’Brien managed it though with Ruler of the World). However Sir Dragonet can buck the trend in a weaker than usual running of the Derby.
He has not really been fancied for either of his two races this season, but has been incredibly impressive in winning on both occasions. He was a 14/1 winner at Tipperary on debut, winning by 3l despite his inexperience. He was then thrown into the deep end at Chester, but responded with a last to first effort, storming home 8l clear of Norway.
This will be his first attempt on faster ground, but the track was well watered yesterday and horse that appreciate give such as Defoe excelled yesterday. I don’t therefore see conditions as an issue. His stamina is fully proven given both wins have been at this 12f, and that is a factor you can’t say is given for most of his rivals.
Epsom 5.15: Soto Sizzler
A horse who seems to excel on these idiosyncratic tracks, I take Soto Sizzler to back up a win here at the last meeting.
He broke his maiden in style winning at Glorious Goodwood in summer, relishing the fast pace and big field that day. His subsequent two runs in smaller fields were not as eyecatching though.
However after a satisfactory return at Kempton in March, he again exploded from the pack to take the Great Metropolitan in April and this well balanced sort seems to reserve his best for undulating tracks. He has only been put up 5lbs for a win that was in excess of 3l and can take advantage of that leniency here.
Epsom 5.50: Beyond Equal
A winner four times in seven starts in 2018, Beyond Equal looks to be peaking in time for this valuable finale on the card.
A keen racer, he is a gelding that will relish a strong pace and has the tactical early speed to make use of a decent draw in six, given the turning nature of the first half of this race. He did win twice at the stiff Salisbury track, but his two other wins were at Haydock and Ffos Las where early speed is generally favoured.
He showed up well enough at Doncaster last time when fourth to suggest he was reaching peak fitness and his current mark of 87 looks very workable.
1pt each-way – Copper Knight – 3.45 Epsom – 10/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Eeh Bah Gum – 3.45 Epsom – 12/1 BetVictor, Coral (1/5 odds 1st 5)
2pts win – Sir Dragonet – 4.30 Epsom – 3/1 general
1pt win – Soto Sizzler – 5.15 Epsom – 3/1 general
1pt each-way – Beyond Equal – 5.50 Epsom – 10/1 general