Horse Racing: Ballydoyle flyer the one to beat in the Derby


RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from Saturday's racing at Epsom.

14:35 Epsom | Princess Elizabeth Stakes | ITV

The Princess Elizabeth Stakes is a Group 3 for fillies and mares over just under 10 furlongs and the market is dominated by Laugh Aloud (5/4 Bet365). Despite 10 lining up it looks like those at the top of the market should dominate in what should be a good race.

Laugh Aloud has won three times, all from the front and that style of running is ideal here. She's progressing and this four year-old daughter of Dubai, who won impressively last time, is the one to beat but she would need to maintain that level of progress to score here.

Urban Fox (9/1 Betfred) was busy as a juvenile and ran some great races including when third in the Fillies Mile. She's fallen just below the top class so far but could still prove better than Saturday’s rivals. She gets a good weight for age allowance here but I'm not convinced she wants this trip and is passed over.

The one I really like here is Absolute Blast (10/1 Paddy Power) from the Archie Watson yard. She had a fine winter on the all-weather winning three times and placing in the Winter Derby and Easter Classic since coming over from France.

She's yet to win on turf but she kept good company in France and ran in their version of the Oaks. She has improved since then and if she handles the track I make her a solid each way-bet.

15:10 Epsom | Diomed Stakes | ITV

The Diomed Stakes is another Group 3 and looks a very wide open race. With eight horses lining up there's no rank outsider here with only one horse at double-figure odds. All bar one of these have won this season and this looks the most competitive race of the day.

Sovereign Debt (13/2 Bet365) has just turned eight but since joining Ruth Carr he has got a new lease of life. He's won his last two starts and has ran in this before when a luckless fourth. He has to concede weight all round and against in-form rivals that may just be too much.

Folkswood (9/2 Stan James) had a great winter in Dubai and has form in the book to get competitive here. He's not quite reached the same level in his two starts back in the UK but his stable is absolutely flying right now and he will be hard to beat.

The one I like here is actually the outsider of the field in the shape of Custom Cut (10/1 Ladbrokes). At his very best he would be a short price to win this and I feel he is overpriced.

He been placed twice before in this race and form at this course is vital. He won last time out in Ireland and if all eight line-up he's another good each-way bet to me.

16:30 Epsom | The Derby | ITV

The Derby is upon us and a huge field is lining up in this famous race. There are plenty of inexperienced horses taking part and I feel there will be plenty of hard luck stories/races lost in the build-up and with a lack of an obvious superstar pre-race you can make a case for a lot of these.

Cracksman (9/2 Ladbrokes) has won both of his starts so far and is one of many inexperienced Colts of immense potential in the race. He needs to step up on his win at the track last time and I'm not convinced he is going to be the strongest stayer in the race. He's clearly an above average horse but I'm not sure he's exceptional.

Best Solution (16/1 Stan James) took in the Dubai Festival over the winter but didn't seem to like the all-weather at Meydan. However, he was a good juvenile and was an impressive winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial last time out. He will stay the trip and would handle soft ground if rain does arrive so he could represent each-way value.

One I do like at a price is the Joseph O'Brien-trained Rekindling (28/1 Betfair). Winner of the Ballysax in Ireland he ran better than his finishing place suggests at York last time out. The extra distance will suit and he will handle any cut in the ground as well. With some bookmakers offering five places, I think he is overpriced.

Cliffs Of Moher (9/2 Betfred) is a horse that I really liked when winning his maiden last season and was heavily supported for this over the winter. He won the Dee Stakes on his return and though that was in workmanlike fashion he is expected to come on dramatically for that.

It's always a concern when Ballydoyle send over six as it indicates they don't have a number one but in a wide open race I feel Cliffs Of Moher may just find the improvement required to take this.

Best Bets

14:35 Epsom – Absolute Blast (10/1 each-way Paddy Power)

15:10 Epsom – Custom Cut (10/1 each-way Ladbrokes)

16:30 Epsom – Cliffs Of Moher (9/2 Betfred)

16:30 Epsom – Rekindling (28/1 each-way Betfair)

About Author

I grew up watching Hearts games with my dad and playing football at every opportunity so betting on it was the logical next step! Football coupons became a Saturday ritual and it introduced me into the world of horse racing. I started watching it on a regular basis, and after Galileo's Derby win in 2001 I was hooked. I follow both flat and national hunt racing attending the northern meetings when possible.

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