Epsom Derby and Oaks

Road To The Epsom Derby: Arrest 10/1 and The Foxes 10/1 are both wildly overpriced

Betfair Tipster Daryl Carter
Daryl takes one final look at the Epsom Derby.

It's week four and the final column of Daryl Carter's Road To The Epsom Derby series. The supplementary stage has now closed, and Daryl looks at the final entries for the Epsom classic...

  • Daryl takes one final look at the Derby runners

  • Makes a U-turn with his opinion on the Dante winner The Foxes

  • Says John Gosden's Arrest should be backed at double figure odds

In week one, we touched on race trends and the correlation between the last ten winners in an attempt to give us a better understanding of what it takes to win the Epsom Derby. You can read that here. We also put up Naval Power 25/1 as a 1pt win bet, and he is now a non-runner.

We highlighted White Birch 33/134.00 and Tony Montanna 40/141.00 in week two for 1pt and 0.5pt win bets. Tony Montanna is a non-runner, having been well held at Newbury recently, but White Birch's strong Dante finishing second gives us hope, and he is now a 14/115.00 chance.

In week three, we saw the Derby field reduced to 22 runners and took a closer look with a line on each runner.

Today, in our final column, we will look at the weather this week, likely going conditions, pace angles, and the effect the draw can have, and make a last ante-post punt in the Epsom Derby.

There's no rain due at Epsom


According to the Met Office, this week's weather is predicted to be dry, with no rain due. According to a May 28th Tweet by course Clerk Andrew Cooper, the ground is currently Good at Epsom. Cooper said 5mm of irrigation would be applied to the track on Monday (today), with temperatures expected in the low 20s this week.

I would expect Arrest 6/17.00 to be a drifter in the market throughout the week. His trainer John Gosden expressed that his runner would need rain to enhance his chances, and the markets rarely miss that type of comment. However, it's unlikely to be rattling quick, given the enormity of this event, and with irrigation starting five days out, they seem to be trying to maintain good ground.

Spreywell 10/111.00 could improve significantly for a move away from soft ground for the first time in his short career. The son of Churchill is a good mover, and his pedigree would give plenty of confidence that good ground will see him in an even better light. I expect him to shorten in the market this week into an SP of around 6/17.00 and perhaps swap places with Arrest.

The faster the ground, the better for outsider Artistic Star 66/167.00 with a low-flowing daisy cutter action, Auguste Rodin 3/14.00, who could prove a different proposition faced with a sounder surface and the Dante winner, The Foxes 10/111.00, who is a beautiful mover.

All in all, we should expect good ground, and it shouldn't inconvenience anyone to a detrimental effect.

High-pressure provides a strong pace element

If the ground shouldn't concern punters, one drastically missing element should, and that is the lack of front runners. However, given the nature of the Epsom Derby, it's rare that this race is not run at a true gallop. With the high-profile pressure many jockeys are under in this contest and the sheer gravity of what the race means, no one wants to get caught knapping off a slow pace.

One expects Dubai Mile and Dear My Friend from the Johnston yard to be prominent runners. Aidan O'Brien has thrown Adelaide River, San Antonio and Covent Garden, all of whom have made the running at one point or another in their careers. They are likely here to ensure this is a good test for Auguste Rodin, so I expect this race to be run at a good honest clip.

The draw

Adam Kirby Adayar Derby win 1280 x 904.jpg

Adayar, in 2021 put the hoodoo of stall one to bed, but it's been highly profitable for punters to back horses drawn high over 1m4f at Epsom when there have been 14 or more runners (up to 22).

Backing high-drawn runners would have yielded a punter a 37% ROI across all races since 2014 and a 33% ROI in Group 1 races. High-drawn runners have an A/E of 1.4 (performing much better than the market expects) compared to those drawn low (0.34).

The Derby Verdict

The 2023 Epsom Derby is one of the most wide-open renewals of a decade. There's plenty to like about the market leader Military Order 3/14.00 who arrives on the back of a Lingfield AW Derby trial victory. There's little getting away from the fact that things fell into his lap that day, and the form is a little hard to weigh up.

The runner-up, Waipiro 16/117.00, didn't get the best of runs and failed to see out 1m4f distance, while his Newmarket Novice victory took a few knocks. Military Order has done nothing wrong, he just hasn't impressed me, and he needs to take a step forward on the bare form so I can leave him alone at the head of the market.

The more you look at this race, the more you warm to Auguste Rodin's 3/14.00 chances, and if you're happy to put a line through his 2,000 Guineas run, then a fair case can be made, but only a fair one. Because of that fact, his price offers no value to this punter, and I can let him win at sub 5/1 when he should be 8/19.00 minimum.

Many think Dubai Mile 14/115.00 has been "missed" in the market, but I can assure you that's not the case, and he is a correct price with the stamina not guaranteed. His attitude when holding off Arrest in France was excellent, but he leaned toward the runner-up leaving him with little room on the rail. He lost out to The Foxes in the Royal Lodge when holding track position in a steadily run affair. He may well run into a place.

Spreywell 10/111.00 has become the talking horse of late and popular with many pundits. I am always sceptical of these horses and have been slightly put off since our column last week. His claims are very valid, but I wouldn't say I liked how he strode out (short cadence).

Passenger 9/25.50 has been supplemented, having run excellently well in the Dante when denied a clear run will prick some ears, but he is now priced like he won the race at York 16 days ago.

Typically there is an extra week between the Dante and the Derby, so this is a relatively quick turnaround for one so inexperienced. I mentioned last week that I advised Passenger to win the Derby at 16/117.00 in another column (it wasn't priced up on the Betfair Sportsbook).

Still, his current price, having reviewed the Dante repeatedly, wouldn't tempt me. While he was denied a clear run, he didn't immediately pick up when the gap came, and White Birch finished stronger than he did, and The Foxes travelled just as well. Perhaps he was well positioned, and I am not overly convinced about this move up in distance, and he could be seen to good effect later in the year over ten furlongs.

None of those at bigger odds interests me other than Artistic Star 66/167.00, but perhaps that's because of the lack of depth in the race rather than his quality. He was good on debut at Nottingham, but I was waiting for a change of legs at Sandown and hoping he would kick away from Gosden's Torito, but he didn't. That led me to think. How high on the Epsom Derby list was Torito at the yard? As high as Arrest? I doubt it very much.

Still, Artistic Star should only be written off partially with the promise of more to come and can represent connections well.

Artistic Star 1280 x 805.png

We already have White Birch in the book at 33/134.00, and I am extremely happy with that the closer we get to race day. My only concern is where he will be placed in the race. The news that Colin Keane is in the saddle is a big positive, but I hope connections don't continue with this drastic hold-up running style. Granted, his break from the gates has contributed to his racing position, but it doesn't pay to be too far off the pace at Epsom. Please, god, they know that.

The ground won't be the reason Arrest flops

The horse I continue to come back to is Frankie Dettori's Arrest 11.010/1 on the Betfair Exchange. Yes, the drying ground is probably not ideal for him, but he is priced as though it will end his chances, and that's not true on the running of his Sandown form as a two-year-old.

He could hold the rawest talent in the field and is a dour stayer. Connections entered him in the Arc the day before he ran at Chester, and it feels as though we haven't scratched the surface with him yet. His high cruising speed at Chester will be a big asset here, and Frankie Dettori will find him a prominent early position, and he is entitled to improve for his first outing of the season. He is currently 6/17.00 on the Betfair Sportsbook, but there is plenty of 11.010/1 on the Betfair Exchange, which is too big.

Back Arrest to win the Derby on the Betfair Exchange 1pt win


Dante winner should not be a double-figure price

I quickly wrote off the Dante winner, The Foxes 10/111.00, last week in my runner-by-runner comments, which was foolish. Having repeatedly re-watched the Dante and he won with a little more authority than I initially gave him credit for, and he is bred for middle-distance trips with stacks of stamina in the family. My only real concern on race week with him is hanging to the right.

That is not a trait you want to see at Epsom, but I can see him getting a good racing position, and he might prove hard to catch as he glides along a sound surface. Oisin Murphy has surprisingly never won the Derby, but he rides Epsom well and knows the horse well, so in the hope he keeps runners on his outside, he could easily run a huge race.

There was a moment during the Dante running where The Foxes changed his legs, and Murphy took a pull behind the leaders inside the home straight. He delayed his challenge, which I initially missed, and then went around runners to kick for home.

On reflection, Passenger was making no ground on the winner, only White Birch was forcing him across the line. With White Birch in the book, I think it's wise at double-figure odds to get The Foxes in also because there's no way the Dante winner should be 10/111.00.

Back The Foxes to win the Derby 1pt win


Recommended bets

Daryl's Epsom Derby ante-post P/L


Daryl's Derby bets.


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.