Derby Day Racing Tips: Tony Calvin expecting Mohican to hit the Heights in Epsom Derby

Epsom Derby race finish
Tony has five fresh selections for Derby day at Epsom

A top class card at Epsom is dominated by the Derby and Oaks, and our resident tipster Tony Calvin is here to guide you through both Classics and more...

"Everything about this horse’s pedigree suggests a more evenly-run 1m4f will suit him here – he is an Australia half-brother to very smart 2m and 1m6f performers – and I expect him to be coming home stronger than most."

Mohican Heights at 24.023/1 or bigger in 16:55 at Epsom

I put up Mohican Heights at 33/1 each-way for the Derby on Monday, and little has changed in the interim to affect my betting stance.

Well, maybe his (slightly) shortening price and the draw - more of that shortly, but English King's connections must have been devastated to get the coffin box in one, and Mogul's only marginally less so having been handed box two - but the question to ask is whether I am pressing up my bet?

The answer is yes at 24.023/1 or bigger, win-only, on the exchange in the Epsom Derby at 16:55.

You can read my ante-post assessment from earlier in the week if you wish but I'll re-state my thoughts.

Bit of a guessing game for Ballydoyle sextet

I am happy to take on the favourites English King and Kameko on price/draw and stamina grounds respectively - I don't buy into the "if he stays, he wins" argument for the 2,000 Guineas, as staying is relative, and he isn't gun-barrel straight under pressure either - and the Ballydoyle colts too, on the basis that even the mighty Aidan O'Brien doesn't appear to know which of his sextet is the best.

Indeed, the Ballydoyle assault on Classics is usually a numbers game - when it is not (as with Love in this year's 1,000 Guineas) take note - and this Derby renewal has shades of last year, when Anthony Van Dyck led home a 1-3-4-5-6-8-10, a race in which the stable's three subsequent Group 1 winners finished third, sixth and tenth.

So which of the stable's six will come out best here is anyone's guess.

Aidan O'Brien 1280 .jpg

You obviously can't ignore them - as last year's result hammered home - as they are all bred for the job (five Galileos and one Camelot, out of mares of varying stamina influence) and all are entitled to step forward considerably on the big stage after so little racing.

Indeed, Serpentine takes his chance here just eight days after his maiden victory at the Curragh, though it remains to be seen whether he will be the designated front-runner for the team.

I probably prefer Hampton Court winner Russian Emperor the most out of O'Brien's, but I can't see much of a betting angle into any of them.

Barbers back open so time for a Derby day Mohican

No, I still like Mohican Heights best.

Now, as for the draw in 15.

It clearly isn't ideal, as the stats underline (Sinndar was the last winner from the stall in 2000, for what it is worth), and it took a monumental ride from Ryan Moore to win from that berth in the 2010 Oaks on Snow Fairy.

But I would rather be drawn wide than on the inner this year, where I suspect there could be precious little room with English King and Frankie Dettori possibly set to get some unwanted attention in one, and the expected pace is at least all around him in 12 (Serpentine), 14 (Khalifa Sat), and 16 (Gold Maze), so that could free up some valuable racing room for Andrea Atzeni.

And Wings Of Eagles did win from 14 in 2017 - the first seven home that year were housed in 14-13-7-4-16-10-19 - as did Authorized, so perhaps we shouldn't be too concerned.

I am not, and I prefer to concentrate on the horse's positives, and let his jockey Andrea Atzeni worry about the tactics.

The horse was unbeaten at two, changing hands for £520,000 after his first start, and the manner of his Salisbury win over a mile on his final start at two was particularly pleasing as he finished his race off so powerfully against some decent yardsticks.

His stable were going through a very quiet spell at the time of his reappearance third to Pyledriver in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot - and it is yet to catch fire in truth - so that made his third there all the more meritorious, especially as he again stayed on well from off the pace in a moderately-run race.

Everything about this horse's pedigree suggests a more evenly-run 1m4f will suit him here - he is an Australia half-brother to very smart 2m and 1m6f performers - and I expect him to be coming home stronger than most.

And hopefully the strongest. He is said to have come out of Ascot really well.

Of the others, I have already backed Pyledriver at 20/1 myself, and he would be my alternative at the prices - the bare facts are that he had Mohican Heights 4 lengths adrift when winning at Ascot, with Mogul another ¾ length away in fourth, and he can handle any more rain - but he can be a little keen early doors and I am a touch worried by his draw in three, too.

And, as much as any ease in the ground will be no problem to him (they had 11mm on Thursday afternoon), it does place that little bit more emphasis on stamina, and this promises to be a stouter test than the steadily-run 1m4f of Ascot for a horse whose sire, Harbour Watch, does not usually scream middle distances.

But he has won over 1m4f, so maybe I am over-thinking it. He and Highland Chief are other 21.020/1+ pokes to consider, anyway.

Love and Darling can be taken on in Oaks

As I said in my Oaks piece on Tuesday, you can't really argue with the fact that wide-margin 1,000 Guineas winner Love and smooth Ribblesdale scorer Frankly Darling dominate the betting for the Oaks at 15:40.

Or can you?

Love is bred to stay the trip and is the form horse on that Newmarket win, but she isn't copper-bottomed on stamina and, as we all know, that Classic form has taken a few knocks since.

And, crucially, she is a 5/4 chance, and she would have preferred genuinely quick ground, too (little bits and pieces of rain around from the early hours on Saturday, it seems).

I probably have a touch more issue with Frankly Darling being as short as 2/1 in truth, and that is from someone who was lucky enough to be sitting at a computer as she scooted up in her Newcastle maiden on the first day's racing after lockdown was eased.

I couldn't believe that some bookmakers left her unchanged for this race at 25/1 after that victory, and I ended up backing her at 25s, 20s and 16s each-way, and she obviously enhanced her claims at Ascot.

But she can a bit too keen for her own good - John Gosden says she is a "bit wild" - and I have looked back at the Ribblesdale race about 10 times now, and I reckon the three that finished immediately behind her, and re-oppose here, are all backable each-way at the price.

So I laid off the win part of my ante-post bets at just above 5/2 earlier in the week, which at least means the long-term book is healthy whatever happens.

Two to back in both Win and Place markets

But, like I said, she is not certain to confirm that Ascot form - though visually she did ease home there - most obviously with the runner-up Ennistymon, who looks the most glaring of each-way, fixed-odds bets going, even if you will be sweating until the gates open with just the eight runners.

One withdrawal and it all goes pear-shaped.

You may want to back her in Betfair's each-way market on the exchange, where the original place terms stand come what may, when the liquidity arrives in that market on Saturday.

But for the purposes of betting and tipping at this stage, I am happy to back her at 8.88/1 win and 1.910/11 place.

She must have recorded one of the most eye-catching of debuts of 2019 at the Curragh last June - you suspect she may have beaten the runner-up, a certain Love, that day given a fair (or one) crack of the whip - but she was pretty underwhelming in victory over 1m2f at Leopardstown last month.

However, she must have improved the best part of two stone just a week later when second to Frankly Darling at Ascot, and she may have even bustled up the admittedly easy winner had she not come from so far off the pace.

That may be pushing it, but the sectionals confirmed she was coming home fastest of all in the final 2f. You have to think she can step forward again here.

Epsom stand 956.jpg

Again, you may want to keep it simple and back her each-way on the exchange but I am also going in win and place on Bharani Star at 60.059/1 and 7.06/1 respectively, as well.

She ran a similar race to Ennistymon from off the pace when fourth in the Ribblesdale, and she was messed around from an early stage there too, and she may not have been ideally positioned on the inner up the straight as well.

She was beaten only 5 lengths in the final analysis, and saw out the 1m4f out well, and it is not hard to see this Sea The Stars filly, who cost a punchy 270,000 euros as a yearling, outrun her massive odds here. I am sure Oisin Murphy will have her closer to the pace than at Ascot.

She came forward massively from her earlier dead-heat off a mark of just 71 at Haydock just eight days previously, and if she progresses similarly again from her second to third start then it is not out of the realms of possibility that Peter Chapple-Hyam, the golden boy of the early 90s, could be back in the big time after a very long wait.

A very well-handicapped horse if all is well

I better tighten this copy up from here otherwise this will read like War And Peace, so I am ignoring races in which I don't see a bet.

The first two small-field contests predictably fit that bill, but Ironclad stood out for me at 8.07/1 or bigger in the 1m2f handicap at 15:00.

He looked good in a brace of wins over this trip last season before disappointing slightly over 1m4f on his final start. But it transpired he had a hairline fracture after that run.

He has been gelded since too, and this regally-bred Dubawi colt, out of a dual Grade 1 winner in the States, could prove very well handicapped here if that has done the trick. He is also related some very good horses, including Mirage Dancer.

Given the injury it was no surprise that he was taken out because of the fast ground at Doncaster last month, so the rain on Thursday is a plus. Maybe this isn't the ideal course for him given that physical problem, but Hugo Palmer knows better than me and I think he has a very well handicapped horse on his hands.

Course lover can go well in finale

Reputation is clearly very interesting off a falling handicap mark on his first start for Ian Williams in the 17:35, especially on a track on which he goes well. And he won first time out last season, after which he was raised to 98. He is off just 89 here.

But the Williams stable is not in the best of nick and Reputation's usual hold-up (and occasionally slow-starting) style could see him in plenty of trouble from stall one here.

Corazon Espinado blitzed out of the number two stall to make all from Hateya (drawn one) in this race last season, with Alemaratalyoum (looked the winner 1f out) in fourth, and is just 3lb higher here after a very satisfactory return over 1m at Lingfield at the start of the month.

He is not so well berthed in 12 this time, but if Atzeni can get the same tune out of him out of the gates here - he rocketed out last year and stuck on remarkably well - then he could well follow up.

I know he is locally-trained and probably primed for his jaunts up the road, but course form figures of 1723121 prove he loves the place, and he is handicapped to be on the premises again.

He is already on the same mark as when winning at Lingfield four starts ago.

He is a bit too obvious for my liking but back him at 8/1 each-way, four places, with the Betfair Sportsbook, while I did also consider a saver on Hateya and Alemaratalyoum too, as I hope last year's form could be the key to this handicap.

Good luck, whatever you punt on Derby day.

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