By News Team
4th June 2021
It’s here. The greatest race in Flat racing has finally arrived and what a cracking Derby we have in store.
Read on for Nick Luck’s fancies for the big one as well as the remainder of the Epsom card.
MOHAAFETH can win the Derby (4.30pm) at 6/1, and give trainer William Haggas his second victory in the race, 25 years after Shaamit. While Mohaafeth has not contested one of the more recognised trials for the race, he has shown huge improvement through three starts this spring, before being given time to harden and develop in some tough workouts at home.
It will be pointed out that his victory last time owed a bit to rivals underperforming – and this is true to an extent – but he showed a greater level of application through the race and looked a stronger, more streetwise horse. My feeling about this year’s race, with a smallish field and just a single Ballydoyle runner, is that the pace may not be frenetic, and that a strong traveller with a high cruising speed may be the order of the day. The ground should be nice and quick by Derby time, which will suit, and I feel this is a colt of real star potential.
Bolshoi Ballet is clearly a hugely talented colt judged on his Derrinstown win where he allied a sparkling performance on form to a very commendable time. There are no real negatives except a short price – he is obviously the biggest threat.
Of the recognised UK-based triallists, Hurricane Lane may come out best: I expect him to run a solid race while perhaps just lacking the pace of Mohaafeth or Bolshoi Ballet.
For those looking for a long shot, there are worse ideas than GEAR UP (40/1), who I will be backing each-way. He was a Group One winner at two, and I expect Ben Curtis to let him slide into lovely rhythm near or on the front end on a surface that will suit him better than York.
Other Epsom races
CAMELOT TALES makes a bit of appeal in the opening handicap (2.00pm), and at a fair price of 12/1. He was quite impressive on his only run on turf and a defeat of Military Mission makes his handicap mark look quite lenient. He probably faced the impossible behind John Leeper at Newcastle, but this looks much more suitable.
ILLYKATO (15/2) looks a bet in the Princess Elizabeth (2.35pm). Although she appears to have a slightly more exposed profile than some of these, she might only be scratching the surface now that she has been stepped up to what looks to be her correct distance. The Goodwood race she won was fair form for the grade, and I liked the way she stuck at it. Her two standout bits of form have come on downland undulating tracks, and she should be well suited by the way this race is run.
BELL ROCK makes quite a bit of appeal in the Diomed Stakes (3.10pm) at 6/1. He was a bit frustrating last year, but the ability has always been there, and he looked to have taken a good step forward when winning a decent handicap on the Rowley Mile. Fast ground will suit well, and he doesn’t need to improve much to beat some horses on the downgrade here.
LORD RIDDIFORD looks an interesting play at 10/1 in the Dash (3.45pm). He is clearly quite a bit better on the all-weather, but he’s a stone lower on turf as a result and – if you dig back to his better turf efforts of two years ago – he boasts some very solid form (particularly when showing blinding speed at Goodwood) off a higher turf mark than this. You would be churlish not to agree that he is a fundamentally better horse now, and he could break this race open if he jumps well from the stalls.