Epsom Derby and Oaks

Epsom Derby: Say what... Tony Calvin has a 150/1 bet to consider

Betfair Ambassador Tony Calvin
Tony is backing a huge price outsider in Saturday's Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby is one of the highlights of the Flat season so Tony Calvin takes an antepost look, debating that the favourite is way too short in the betting while suggesting a huge price ousider can outrun his odds...

  • Saturday's Epsom Derby field holds up well

  • Impossible to fancy City Of Troy after Guineas flop

  • 150/1151.00 outsider fancied to outrun his odds


The Derby went from 21 entries to 20 after the noon confirmation stage on Monday, with The Euphrates and Defiance coming out, and Tabletalk being supplemented.

A very healthy number at the five-day stage, underlining just how many owners and trainers are fancying their chances of an upset this year.

And that explains why connections of Chelmsford maiden winner Tabletalk, who could well be eligible for a 0-80 handicap when his official rating is revealed, have coughed up £75,000 to run.

Who said we had no flawed Economics in this year's Derby?

I am assuming owner Abdulla Al Mansoori is a glass overflowing type of guy, or trainer Tom Clover can spread it on very thick indeed with the chat.

Yes, I know. Apologies.

Mind you, he is only 50s with the Sportsbook, so some are believers in this twice-raced colt.

Impossible to have City Of Troy on my radar

Your ears will probably be bleeding by Saturday afternoon with the amount Auguste Rodin will be namechecked and mentioned this week, as desperados itching to side with City Of Troy at a criminally short price will be referencing last year's winner.

Now, only an idiot would say the 9/43.25 chance City Of Troy - predictably a lot bigger at 3.814/5 on the exchange, but nowhere as big as he deserves to be surely? - has no chance of winning, as he has the best form, but if anyone can point to one iota of positivity from his Guineas run then I am all (bleeding) ears.

I don't tip at those kind of prices anyway - 4s wouldn't even begin to interest me on the likely ground - but backing him at his current odds after he was beaten before halfway in the Guineas, and this a horse unproven beyond 7f remember, is surely madness.

Epsom Oaks Day with stand and runners.jpg

Sure, Auguste Rodin - sorry - was beaten even further than him at Newmarket before winning at Epsom but I can't have one horse's disappointment, and subsequent, occasional resurrection, as having any bearing or relevance as to City Of Troy's chance on Saturday.

You'd be laughed out of town for suggesting that about any other horse.

It's akin to the nonsense you read about the record of favourites in certain races, when people try desperately to bolster a wafer-thin case with any old filler.

It is just nonsensical, though the jollies do have a poor recent record in the Derby, it has to be said....

Was City Of Troy the best of these last year?

By a mile. If (easily the most expensive word in betting) he were having his first start of the campaign here he would be odds-on.

And have the stable's better 3yos been improving for their reappearance run?

Yes.

Is this a winnable Derby?

Undoubtedly.

However, there was zero promise in his Newmarket run, and all his best form has come over a trip 5f shorter than this, and those are the indisputable facts.

I simply cannot have him at his current price, but the market forces of the exchange suggest plenty think differently.

Wisdom the pick of the fancied runners

It is currently soft, good to soft at Epsom, but they are getting further rain on Monday afternoon, as I write this (3mm so far and counting). So basically it will be soft by the next update on Tuesday morning.

Aidan O'Brien still has six in here - though on Monday the Racing Post's David Jennings hinted that he will only run three - and Los Angeles is vying for second favourite at around 6s on the exchange with Ambiente Friendly.

The unbeaten Los Angeles beat stablemate Euphoric (those were the three runners Jennings was referring to, along with City Of Troy) at Leopardstown but I can't get remotely jiggy about that particular bunched formline. He is shortening into nearer 5s as I write, though.

At least, Los Angeles was a 1m2f Group 1 soft ground winner at two and looks as if he will eat up the extra two furlongs, but I can't have him at around 11/26.50.

Ambiente Friendly is far easier to warm to, and he has rightly shortened in the market ever since his impressive Lingfield defeat of Illinois (also still in the race), and you could easily argue there is still a touch of trainer snobbery regarding his exchange price of 6.611/2.

He has probably already outstayed his pedigree but will 1m4f on potentially/probably soft ground in a big field bring stamina more into play here?

O'Brien also currently has French Guineas fourth Diego Velazquez (a big form runner) and Sandown fourth Portland in here - priced at 20s and 100s respectively by the Sportsbook - but it sounds like they are not sure to go. I'd hold fire on that pair and Illinois, by the sounds of it.

Plans change though, so keep them peeled.

Ancient Wisdom is fourth in the betting at 6/17.00 with the Sportsbook, and I wouldn't argue with that positive assessment of his chance.

Winner of that 1m Group 1 at Doncaster last season (I am never sure what to call it these days) from the recent German Guineas winner Devil's Point, he ran perfectly well to finish second to Economics in the Dante and staying 1m4f should be of no concern.

If you asked me honestly, I'd say he and Ambiente Friendly should be shorter in the betting than City Of Troy.

At the top end of the market, he'd be my lean at 8.07/1 on the exchange.

Complete outsider can outrun his odds

Meanwhile, at the other end of the market, here comes a right old swing.

Andrew Balding didn't even deem Sayedaty Sadaty worthy of a mention in a stable tour he did with the ATR website on April 25 but, as regular readers will know, I view this as a positive and this horse intrigues me at 150/1151.00.

Why would you reveal anything meaningful to the masses?

Granted, the horse will have come rather a long way if he wins this, having effectively run out when odds-on at Windsor last August, and his two efforts this season barely entitle him to hold his current mark of 102, if truth be told.

However, he does have experience of the track and he probably ran his best race yet when a 4-length second to Caviar Heights in a good time (the clock-watchers liked it, anyway) over 1m2f at Newmarket last time (the winner was bitterly disappointing at 4s in the Dante but that surely wasn't his true running) and this horse's pedigree suggests he will improve for this greater test of stamina.

The sire was a miler but he has got 1m4f to 2m winners (at a lower level) and the dam won over 1m6f on heavy ground in France.

I have a gut feeling he could massively outrun his, well, massive odds.

Put it this way, I'd happily back him at evens against Tabletalk in a match bet, even if he is three times the price of Clover's runner.

I know the ridicule factor is high - and, following the City Of Troy-Auguste Rodin logic, I should probably point out that Balding had a 150s runner-up with the same owner's Hoo Ya Mal in this race in 2022, not that I believe that has any particular relevance - but I'm happy to back him at 150/1151.00 each way myself, so I am duly tipping him here at those odds with the Sportsbook.

In betting, you have to look beyond the obvious and not dismiss any horse too hastily or lazily.

Incidentally, Hoo Ya Mal finished a 7-length second in the same Newmarket Listed race as Sayedaty Sadaty's, as a prep to finishing second to Desert Crown at Epsom.

He is available at 150s price in five places on the Oddschecker grid as this goes live, and at least 100s everywhere else, with 125s on offer, too. The 100s would do me, if needed.

So what I do think of the others?

Again, there could be trainer snobbery at work with French Guineas runner-up Dancing Gemini being available at 12s in the marketplace, and Sea The Stars colt Macduff looks a very likely improver at 1m4f. And Dallas Star will shorten the more rain Epsom gets.

However, having gone through all of the 20 entries, I don't fear, or fancy, a whole heap in here.

Which is why I am happy to risk the ridicule and row along with Sayedaty Sadaty at 150s each way.

I hope and trust 1m4f and testing ground for the first time (the sire handled firm and soft alike, and the dam loved it deep) can bring about enormous improvement.

He Who Dares, Rodney.

He Who Dares.


Now read Daryl Carter's Epsom Derby runner-by-runner guide here.


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