Epsom Derby Day Tips: Bets for the big race and beyond

Cosmic Law wins at Epsom
It's Derby day at Epsom and TC has three bets on the big race
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It's Derby day at Epsom and Tony Calvin has two more bets to add to his antepost pick for the big race, as well as giving his thoughts on the rest of the card...

"Masar didn't get the credit he deserved for his juvenile efforts. He got no luck in running in either the soft-ground Lagardere or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf after previously beating Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Romanised in the Solario Stakes... He's the form pick outside of the favourite."

The vibes emanating from the Ballydoyle camp suggest that not only do they expect Saxon Warrior to win the Derby, but to win it well. And, if true, you can see why the unerring confidence is there.

He has the best form courtesy of his Guineas win - and apparently he only came to hand in the week or so before Newmarket, which is probably why he was smashed up in the betting on the day and not ante-post - and he has the pedigree, the looks and the temperament to excel over 1m4f.

And you also have an odds-against price now courtesy of him being handed the dreaded stall one, which is 0 from 114 over 1m4f in double-digit fields at Epsom since 2000.

It's undoubtedly a worrying stat if you are backing one at a short price, allied to the doubts about the horse stepping up half a mile for the first time, but he has four stablemates to help him out and I guess you have to trust Ryan Moore to do his job if you are backing the horse.

Good luck if you are, but playing at his price is not for this column, and we have already nailed our colours to the Delano Roosevelt mast at 16/1 each-way, ante-post.

Two bets for the Derby

He doesn't possess much in the way of a turn of foot, so far at least, but he has been brought along gently with considerate trials in the Ballysax and the Derrinstown behind Hazapour, and I expect him to be seen in a better light over an extra 2f and with a more positive ride from Seamie Heffernan.

I won't be pressing up win-only at the 20/1 mark on the exchange, so I looked around for another bet in the race.

William Haggas is apparently very sweet on the chances of his Chester Vase winner Young Rascal, and that trainer has always struck me as a very good judge of his horses, and certainly not a misty-eyed operator when it comes to running them in Classics for the sake of that. He showed that by not appearing to seriously consider Sea Of Class for the Oaks.

But he is now second favourite and if you fancy him, then you have to at least consider the horse he beat Dee Ex Bee ½ length at Chester at three times the price.

I know he is more exposed than the Haggas colt but Dee Ex Bee certainly didn't get the run of the race that day (he was drawn 10 of 10 for starters) and he is a hardy soul who could outrun his price.

However, I am going to put up two others, for differing reasons.

The more traditional tip is Knight To Behold at 20/1 each way with the Betfair Sportsbook.

Apparently, he can be a bit buzzy, which may not be ideal in the Epsom pre-race cauldron (keep an eye on him in the preliminaries) - it is perhaps telling that Harry Dunlop calls him "funny and hard to gauge" - and he was very free early on at Lingfield on his return.

But he really was very impressive in seeing off the solid Kew Gardens by 3 ¼ lengths there - the fact that the runner-up lost a shoe after three furlongs notwithstanding - and the usual comments apply. If he were trained by a "bigger name" then he would be half the price after a performance like that.

He will have to contend with pace rivals here if he decides to go on, and softer ground - though his jockey said it was loose on top at Lingfield after rain, even though it was officially good to firm - but he is a horse of no little potential after just three starts.

The other play in the race is a back-to-lay of Masar on the exchange. I suggest backing him at [23.0] and upwards and putting in a keep bet to lay him at around the 4/1 mark for a free bet. I will be going up at [5.1] myself.

From a strict form point of view, he is massively overpriced, and if you want to back him more "tradition-ally" each-way, then be my guest.

This horse didn't get the credit he deserved for his juvenile efforts. He got no luck in running in either the soft-ground Lagardere or the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf after previously beating Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Romanised in the Solario Stakes.

Ignore a throw-out run on dirt in Dubai, and his 3yo exploits aren't too shoddy either. A 9-length Craven win and a 1 ¾ length third in the Guineas makes him the form pick outside of the favourite.

The obvious question mark is stamina but he is by a Derby winner out of a dam with some illustrious middle-distance names in her pedigree.

He could well stay and win, but I do harbour doubts about his ability to last home, hence I will take the in-running lay as insurance. I can see him tanking along 2f out failing to see it out. If he does, then happy days.

Sylvester Kirk has outstanding claims in opener

The opening race at 14:00 had me in a bit of a dilemma.

Sylvester Kirk has a good record in this race but the fact that his George is 4lb out of the handicap is off-putting and I kept on coming back to Poet's Prince. The question is whether he is worth backing at around the 4/1+ mark, with doubts about him on the ground (though he is clearly a different horse this year).

We were with him at a price when he was collared close home by his stablemate at Newbury last time, and that 3yo handicap is traditionally one of the hottest of the season.

I think a 5lb rise is very fair, considering the winner was unexposed and they pulled well clear of the third, and his earlier form at Redcar and Chelmsford is also very strong.

It is at the lower end of the price scale that I like to play at, but he has such outstanding claims that I am going to back him at [5.5] or bigger. Hopefully, the ground will continue to dry out.

I was with Anna Nerium in the 1,000 Guineas and she ran perfectly well when seventh there. However, I was expecting her to perform a little bit better after what was a very impressive win in the Free Handicap.

It could be that the quick ground didn't suit her there, and I was very tempted to give her another spin against the older fillies.

But she has a 3lb penalty and I am not totally sold on her stamina now after Newmarket, even if her breeding suggests it will suit. More importantly, I was hoping for a bit bigger than 9/2 in this race. A reluctant pass.

The Diomed Stakes at 15:10 looks exceptionally tricky, with two previous winners of this race, Arod and Sovereign Debt, taking on improvers like Century Dream, and then you have classy horses likes Breton Rock to consider.

I just didn't have an opinion in the race at the prices, and the same is true in the Dash at 15:45.

Luck in running plays a massive role in this contest, so it is probably no coincidence that speedball Caspian Prince is going for a remarkable fourth win in the race; jump out in front and avoid the trouble in behind. He is drawn in two though, and history tells you that high is the place to be.

I was toying with Tarboosh at around 14/1 after his luckless run here in April but his draw may not prove to be the best and, on balance, I will leave the speedsters alone.

The best punt of the day

One that massively catches my eye in the 17:15 is Eddystone Rock and he rates a decent-stakes bet at [17.0] or bigger. He is probably my punt of the day at the prices.

I tipped him at 33/1 in this column when he was fifth at Newmarket last time, and he ran a blinder there considering the ground was too quick. In fact, he travelled really well throughout that contest and I thought he could well win 2f out.

It was a good run, though, and the easier ground here is very much in his favour. The handicapper dropped him 1lb for that run, too, and he is now just 2lb higher than when finishing second to Soldier In Action in this race last season.

The form of the yard is a concern - they have only had two winners this year - but he still has plenty going for him.

Watchable and Ashpan Sam are my two against the field in the last, but no bets there.

Good luck.


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