Epsom Saturday Racing Tips: Circus Maximus the Derby selection

Epsom racecourse
Tony has a quartet of selections for Derby Day at Epsom

It's Derby day at Epsom, and our big-price tipster Tony Calvin - fresh from tipping up a winner at 28.0 BSP last Saturday - is back with his thoughts and tips on the afternoon...

"Certainly, there are few better than Frankie Dettori, a very rare jockey booking for the stable (1 from 4 in the UK, and 0 from 7 in Ireland), than cajoling one home. Indeed, that one winner was Scorpion in the 2005 St Leger."

Back Circus Maximus at 15.014/1 or bigger in 16:30

Having seven of the 13-strong field gives Ballydoyle tactical (and nuisance) options in the Derby at 16:30, and I am hoping that their fifth-string - to judge from the current betting at least - is the one to come out on top.

Step forward Circus Maximus at 15.014/1 or bigger, though to be honest this race has such an open look to it this year that I won't be going mad on the stakes front.

And the selection's price has been shortening in the last 24 hours as well, which very nearly put me off sticking him up.

Trip, headgear and Frankie all positives for Maximus

I said fifth-string above but I don't think anyone connected with the Aidan O'Brien stable truly knows which one of his septet will come out best in the white-heat - and it promises to be red-hot at Epsom - battle over 1m4f at Epsom on quick ground on Saturday.

But I am rowing in with Circus Maximus.

He was a bit unheralded at two, considering he finished third to Persian King and Magna Grecia on fast ground at Newmarket, and then was beaten only a length behind another pair of Guineas winners in the Vertem Trophy at Doncaster.

Classic winners all the way, and he was certainly plying his trade in lofty company at two.

His defeat of Mohawk (clearly unsuited by the step back in trip in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the weekend) in the Dee Stakes also wasn't flash and certainly didn't have many scrambling to back him for the Derby in the immediate aftermath of the victory.

And that trial is not traditionally one in which the stable tend to run their premier Epsom hopes, though 2017 runner-up Cliffs Of Moher took it two years ago.

But it was a reappearance win that he is fully entitled to build on, especially as you have to expect the step up to 1m4f will probably suit him, as per all of Aidan's colts in here.

The first-time cheek pieces are also a very interesting angle, though Aidan O'Brien is a decidedly underwhelming one from 25 with this option, I have to say (I sounded like Claude Duval there).

Apparently, Circus Maximus can be lazy, though - he looked to be thinking about it up the straight at Chester before picking up again for his jockey in the final furlong - so perhaps the headgear is just what is required to harness that talent and bring him forward sufficiently to get competitive here.

Certainly, there are few better than Frankie Dettori, a very rare jockey booking for the stable (1 from 4 in the UK, and 0 from 7 in Ireland), than cajoling one home. Indeed, that one winner was Scorpion in the 2005 St Leger.


Dragonet the correct favourite under Moore

There is little doubt that the selection pales into insignificance when he comes to sexiness when compared to his stablemate Sir Dragonet - or indeed the rock-solid claims of the likes of Broome, for all he may want easier ground ideally - and the unbeaten colt has definite, and obvious, hints of Ruler Of The World, who came from nowhere to win this race in 2013 on his third start, having made his debut in April.

And the clock backed up the stunning visual impression he created when winning the Chester Vase by 8 lengths from Norway.

He took a while to warm to his task there, and this will represent a totally different test to his two soft-ground wins to date, but he could be in a different league to these in terms of raw talent, though maybe that is down the line.

The choice of Ryan Moore (or perhaps it wasn't totally his choice), he is probably the price he should be at around the 3/1 mark, given the doubts, and the widest draw in 13 may not be ideal.

O'Brien outsider could run a big race

Reading Moore's Betfair column, it is quite taking what a positive mention he gave to Sovereign (he wasn't ruling out any, mind you), though you would surely be better off backing lightning to strike twice on your bonce rather than his sparingly-used jockey Padraig Beggy to follow up his win on Wings Of Eagles in this race in 2017.

Don't get me wrong, he was a 150/1 chance in a place on Thursday afternoon for a reason, and that is because he is rated just 105 and has been stuffed by his stablemate Broome in both starts this season and his only win to date came in a heavy-ground maiden.

But he travelled pretty sweetly for Seamie Heffernan when placed in both the Ballysax and Derrinstown, beaten only 3 lengths last time and not given too punishing a time once headed, and if ever a horse was bred to be suited by stepping up to 1m4f for the first time it is this stamina-laden colt.

A mixture of his strong-travelling nature (tactical speed can be crucial here) and stout pedigree suggests he could just be a big improver, and his full-brother Cliffs Of Dooneen gained his 1m6f and 2m wins on fast ground.

He is probably just about favourite to come last, and he may well do - indeed he could be sacrificed as a pacemaker on the front end - but I have never been afraid of ridicule, so back him at 120.0119/1 win and 21.020/1 place, or bigger.

Trader to help us into profit

I was very surprised to see The Trader open up at a general 7/1 for the opener at 14:00 after the declarations on Thursday morning.

This is a deep race, full of improvers, but I wanted to be with the selection after his fifth in the always-strong London Gold Cup last time and I was pleasantly surprised by the price.

I was going to tip him for that Newbury race, but his seeming inexperience when a close second at Chelmsford previously - he wandered around a bit there, but the winner gave that form a timely boost when dotting up at Sandown on Thursday night - put me off in the final analysis.

I was beginning to regret deserting the 33/1 poke when he made a big move around the 2f pole at Newbury, but his run flattened out in the closing stages.

I think he is better than he showed there in fifth, although he still wasn't beaten far in what was a deep race, and hopefully SDS can make it count when he delivers his challenge this time around.

I strongly suspect there is plenty more to come from this well-bred individual (dam was a Group 1 winner), and I fancy him a fair bit, so back him at 8.07/1 or bigger.


Fav hard to fancy after latest run

Veracious was a big disappointment on her reappearance at Newmarket and wears a first-time tongue-tie in the 14:35 which isn't a major surprise as she did cut out very quickly at Newmarket after travelling well into the race, so maybe her wind was an issue there.

She is the horse to beat in here, even with her 3lb penalty, but I cannot have her at around 7/4 and 2/1 after that comeback run.

This looks ripe for an each-way punt in this eight-runner race, and last year's unfortunate runner-up Anna Nerium best fits the bill at 5/1+, but I would advise betting win and place on the exchange (where original place terms stand) if you are going down that route, rather than fixed-odds.

Eight runners, and all that.

I can just about resist it, though.

Duke set to make it back-to-back Saturday wins

The seven-runner Diomed Stakes at 15:10 isn't doing it for me either - I wouldn't argue with the betting at the top of the market, and the bottom half doesn't interest me - but I have a new-found zest and enthusiasm for sprint handicaps after Duke Of Firenze did us a huge favour at York on Saturday.

I suggested backing him at 11/1 or bigger there, and he ended up sluicing in at a Betfair SP of over 28.027/1.

And, boy did he dot up too, as he was always tanking along on the near side and won far more snugly than the winning margin of a neck suggested.

He went up 5lb for that, which means he is still 1lb well-in with his 7lb penalty (this is an early-closer, and he had previously gone up 3lb for his Thirsk victory), but the 10yo is still very well-handicapped on his past form and his Epsom form figures of 107333655 is quite impressive, as most of those starts came in big-field handicaps like this.

Indeed he won this in 2013 (after trading at 1000.0 in running), finished third in 2016 and 2017, and was sixth last season.

He is simply the most likely winner in his current form, allied to his track and race history, and he is worth a bet at 11.010/1 or bigger.

He comes out of the same stall of 19 from which he won this race six years ago, and he should go close again given the usual luck in running. I nearly put up Blue De Vega as a saver at 25/1+ but I will stick with just the one selection.

In the non-ITV races at the end of the card, I thought Grandee was caught too far out of his ground at York last time and is better than he showed there, and his Ripon second last season suggests this 1m4f trip should be fine for him. He is worth a second look.

Lake Volta could well follow up in the last, but that isn't a race that I am itching to get involved in. I'll stick to ITV, ta. In fact, I have to, as there still weren't any prices knocking about when I filed.

Best of luck.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open your account today using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn - £/€20 Back in cash if your bet loses
Bet Now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles