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Monday 2 June 2014

Derby Preview

Australia has been ante post favourite for the Investec Derby (4.00 p.m. Epsom, Saturday, June 7) ever since he impressively won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Trial Turf Stakes, over a mile, at Leopardstown last September and was hailed by his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, as ‘the best horse we’ve ever had’. The Galileo colt confirmed his position at the head of the ante post market when finishing third, beaten half a length and a head, behind Night Of Thunder and Kingman in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket five weeks ago and co-owner Michael Tabor told At The Races last week that ‘people in Ballydoyle will be surprised if Australia doesn't win’.

However, Aidan O’Brien has expressed his concerns about the possibility of soft ground at Epsom on Derby Day and, with the going currently good to soft, good in places and an unsettled forecast for the week ahead, underfoot conditions may not be ideal for Australia. Furthermore, O’Brien also failed to categorically deny that another of his Derby entries, Geoffrey Chaucer, had comprehensively beaten Australia in a gallop at Ballydoyle so, for all his Classic credentials, Australia looks poor value at even money.

The good news, as far as we’re concerned is that the bookmakers bet 12/1 bar the O’Brien pair already mentioned, so there must be a decent chance of an upset. The longest priced winner of the Derby in the last ten years was Ruler Of The World at 7/1 last year, but looking further back, High Rise (20/1), Snow Knight (50/1) and Morston (25/1) all belied long odds, so a shock result is not entirely out of the question.

Although not strictly an outsider, insofar as he’s 12/1 third favourite in the ante post lists, Kingston Hill looks overpriced if the going at Epsom remains on the soft side. The son of champion first-season sire Mastercraftsman, out of a Rainbow Quest mare, has 4¼ lengths to find with Australia on their running in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas Stakes, but the way he kept on steadily at Newmarket, albeit with threatening the leaders, suggested that stepping up to a mile and a half would be in his favour. Indeed, he stayed on strongly when winning the Racing Post Trophy, over a mile, on soft going at Doncaster last October and, while a line through the runner-up Johann Strauss also gives him something to find with Australia, he looks to have bright prospects of reversing the Guineas form if conditions remain in his favour.

Sir Michael Stoute has won the Derby five times, most recently with Workforce in 2010, so Snow Hill (25/1) must be worth a second look. The Nayef colt has 2¼ lengths to find with impressive winner Western Hymn on their running over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Newbury in April, but improved to win the Derby Trial Stakes, over 1 mile 3½ furlongs, at Lingfield four weeks ago. Exactly what that form amount to is hard to tell, but it seems the further he goes the better he is so, with underfoot conditions sure to suit, whatever the weather, he looks a live outsider.

Whatever the result, The Investec Derby promises to be an umissable contest, but our two against the field, in no particular order, are:

Kingston Hill (12/1 with Bet365, Betvictor and Paddy Power)
Snow Hill (25/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill)

Good luck!


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