The 2014 Epsom Derby is set to be run tomorrow the 7th of June at 4.00 at Epsom. The distance is a mile and a half, and while the ground is currently good as I write this, there is the possibility of very heavy showers Friday night. If they hit, then the ground could be soft by race time. I preview and provide my tips for the Epsom Derby below. If you want my best bets everyday, then check out my hugely successful Premium Advisory Service, which after 8 months, is showing a profit of 492 points, for a remarkable Return On Investment of +31.8%.
This race revolves around Australia, who has been hyped up so much by his trainer, that he is priced up as a proven superstar for this, yet hasn’t yet shown enough on the track to justify such claims. Australia won his maiden on his second start, before turning over the very promising Free Eagle at Leopardstown. I was one of those who thought Free Eagle was very good, and a 6l beating of him looks good on paper, I don’t however think the 2nd was right that day, as is backed up by the fact that he only finished just over 3l ahead of the average Kingfisher.
It was after that Leopardstown win that the hype really started, with claims from the trainer that Australia was the best he ever had. That’s pure thrash talk, and to tell the truth, the powers that be at Ballydoyle must feel their fellow breeders are a bunch of idiots, to think that making claims, that changes your best horse every year is fooling anyone. Remember Camelot, and how he was some much better than real stars like High Chaparral, Rock Of Gibralter, Galileo? Yes he won a Guineas and Derby, but he was extremely lucky to win those races, without having to beat a horse up to even group 3 standard. If connections thought Australia was the superstar, they claimed he was immediately after that Leopardstown race, how come they let him go off at 10/3 on Betfair in a 4 horse race? Perhaps they don’t bet!
Australia reappeared in the Guineas, and ran very well to come third, beaten under 1l. He was on the opposite side to the first two, but you couldn’t argue he was unlucky, indeed had the winner kept straight, he’d have won further. Kingman was 2nd, and he franked the form somewhat by hacking up at the Curragh, but I don’t think he was the same horse at Newmarket as he was in the Greenham, or at the Curragh. He never traveled with the same zest at Newmarket, and I think the ground might have been a little fast for him.
On that run Australia clearly has a decent level of form coming into the Derby, but he’d probably still need to improve to win it. On breeding, without knowing anything else about the horse, you would guess Australia’s optimum trip would be 12 furlongs, so on that side the signs are promising. The thing is part of the reason for the hype, was the fact his trainer claimed he was doing unbelievable sectionals at home over 4 furlongs. Now if that’s true, then that means he’s showing an awful lot of speed, and if you have a horse that has very good form over a mile, showing you sprinter speed at home, then you can’t also assume he will improve, or even be as good over an extra half a mile. So believe the hype, or believe he’ll improve for the trip, but don’t believe both, like the market seems to.
Australia was made odds on favourite for the Derby after the Guineas, and it’s only this week he’s drifted to 6/4. I think it’s safe to assume anyone who backed him at odds on, isn’t a winning punter, as there can’t be any logic in taking such a price, about a horse that will likely need to improve, and mightn’t even make the race. Is the 6/4 too short? I think it is, and maybe 9/4 or so would better reflect his chance, especially with rain forecast. There are so many ways he can get beaten. For one his jockey isn’t exactly top class, he makes far too many mistakes. All too often he goes from overconfidence, to panic in two strides, he waits until he’s boxed in before trying to take any action, instead of anticipating a problem before it happens.
What way will he ride the horse tomorrow? He could fall for the hype, and take a wide route to keep him out of trouble, that could see him get the best horse beaten. He could do as he often does, fall asleep, and suddenly find himself maneuvered into a pocket by his more astute rivals. That’s two ways he may get beat, and there are many more. He may not be as good over 12 furlongs as a mile, he may be just as good over 12 furlongs as a mile, but that might not be good enough. He’s stepping up half a mile in trip, after being wound up for a mile race, so he might pull, as Dawn Approach did last year. He may even be better over 12 furlongs, and improve for his last run, but still get beat. It doesn’t look a great Derby at the moment, but there are enough unexposed types, to think one of them might step up hugely on previous form.
So yes Australia is the most likely winner of the 2014 Epsom Derby, but his price looks too short, and that means there should be some value elsewhere, but what is it? If you don’t have a Betfred account though, you can open one, and get a free €25 matched bet, and also avail of 4/1 on Australia to win the Derby. You only get the 4/1 for €10 of your stake, but for many that will be enough to give them an interest in the race.
Kingston Hill hacked up in the Racing Post Trophy on soft ground last year, but that was a shocking renewal of that race. The second is probaly not even up to winning at listed class, and it seemed most of the field failed to handle the ground that day. Kingston Hill came 8th in the Guineas, staying on okay late on. The ground was probably too fast for him that day, and it may be in his favour tomorrow, which would give him a chance, but it’s not guaranteed to be soft, and even if it is, his price of 7/1 wouldn’t look big. Like Australia he’s likely to be better over 10 furlongs, than a mile, but whether he’s as good at 12, as 10, is another matter. His half brother stayed 12, but is arguably better over 10 furlongs, and he is by more of a stamina influence than Kingston Hill’s sire Mastercraftsman.
Geoffrey Chaucer won his only two starts at 2, and reappeared in the Derrinstown Derby trial. The race was a good example of what Joseph O’Brien often does wrong in a race. The pace was very steady and from 5 furlongs out it should have been blatantly obvious that if he maintained his position on the inside rail, he was very likely going to meet traffic trouble in the straight. Joseph left that to chance however, and duly got little run. I’m not sure he’d have won as he was in the clear for long enough to pick up, and he didn’t do enough to think he was unlucky. He finished behind both Fascinating Rock and Ebanoran that day, yet is a shorter price than both now. Given his trainer’s horses tend to come on a good bit for their first run back in a trial, he’s probably entitled to be shorter, although whether he should be half the price of those two is another matter.
Fascinating Rock came 2nd that day as they crossed the line, but got the race in the stewards room. He probably would have won a head had he not been interferred with close home, so that seemed fair. Also given that he was last turning in, he did very well to get so close, as the pace really was steady up to that point. Had they gone a better gallop I suspect he would have beaten Ebanoran by a length or two. That said there has to be a question mark about him being as good over 12 furlongs, and he may not have the same scope to improve as that other pair, with the impression being his trainer made hay with a fit horse, while he could. He started 9/1 for a maiden at the end of March, so if DKW thinks he’s a Derby winner in waiting. he certainly hasn’t thought it for long.
Ebanoran has progressed with each of his three races, winning his maiden, before a good 3rd in a listed race, and then getting disqualified after beating Fascinating Rock in the Derrinstown. Of the first three that day, he undobutelty had the run of it the most, but that performance was still a big step forward for him, and there must be a good chance he can improve again. He took a hold that day, and considering he’s by Oasis Dream the trip has to be a doubt, especially if he didn’t settle. That said he’s 16/1 so we don’t expect everything in our favour, and he is certainly one of those at double figure odds that might take the leap neccessary to put it up to the favourite. I’d prefer the ground to stay good for him, but good to soft should be fine, very soft ground would be a worry both for acting on it, as I think he’d be better on better ground, but it would also bring stamina more into play.
True Story was very impressive when hacking up in the Fielden, and on that run you would give him every chance, but was very disappointing in the Dante. He never seemed to travel with the same zest that day. I think his Dante run is poor form, and he will need to bounce back to have a chance here. Yes you may have read that the Dante has worked out well, but you really shouldn’t be reading anything, by anyone, with such basic analytic skills.
To take the fact that the Dante winner followed up in the French Derby as a reason to upgrade the Dante form massively, if at all, is a classic case of using the pieces of evidence that suit your argument, while ignoring those that don’t. The 6th and last finisher in the Dante was the maiden Saab Almanal, beaten just 4 1/2l, sometimes in small fields such horses are flattered by their proximity due to a slow pace, but that certainly wasn’t the case here, as they went fast, and if he was flattered it was due to him closing up a little late when the others were stopping. That said he got hammered in a maiden next time, and you couldn’t logically assume anything other than The Great Gatsby improved a good bit, to win a well below par French Derby.
Arod was second in the Dante, but unlike True Story he doesn’t have previous form that would make you think he’s any better than that average form, and while he’s only had 3 runs, and can therefore improve, I think he’d need a big step forward to win this.
Western Hymn is very interesting. Sectional Times enthusists will have marked him down as very useful after his maiden win. He then won a decent conditions race at Newbury easily. The second that day went on to win the Lingfield Derby trail, although the 3rd ran poorly in that same race. Overall the form is a good way short of what will be needed here, but he left the impression there was much more to come. At Sandown last time he, not for the first time, looked a tricky ride, holding his side to one side, and then running around in front. Again though he won, while looking capable of much more.
The extra 2 furlongs has to be a slight doubt, but no more so than with most of these, and he’s a 16/1 shot, which compensates for the doubts. He is also far from bombproof regarding handling the track, but one thing in his favour is he seems to race quite lazy, and only goes through the gears when asked. He still has bundles of potential, could easily be top class, and the 16/1 available looks too big.
Orchestra stepped up from winning a maiden last season, to winning the Chester Vase on his comeback. He only beat Romsdal a nose at the line, but went through the race like much the best horse, and it was probably only lack of a recent run that keep the margin so close. That form will need improving on, but he’s very likely capable of improving a good bit, he will go on the ground tomorrow, and has to have a good each way chance. His price of 14/1 reflects the fact he hasn’t been hyped like his stablemates, but similar types from the stable have run very well before, and he’s one of the few in the race that will relish a stamina test.
That Chester Vase run was only Romsdal’s 3rd run as well, but of the pair that day, I would expect much more improvement from the winner, and it’s hard to see Romsdal turning the tables. None of the others make much appeal as likley winners.
Australia is the most likely winner, but his price looks too short. The likely ground is still not certain, but two horse who should be fine on both good, and soft are Western Hymn, and Orchestra. Western Hymn is 16/1 with BetVictor, and I think that’s too big on a horse who has the potential to be top class. Orchestra is a more solid selection, in that he should be hard to keep out of the frame, being one of the few that should relish a stamina test, but he is still unexposed enough to improve enough to win. I’m going to recommend backing both of those at the moment, but if the heavy rain fails to materialize, and the ground is no worse than good to soft in the morning, then I also think Ebanoran would be a good each bet if the current 16/1 is still available.
4.00 Epsom Derby Tips
1 PT EW Western Hymn at 16/1 with
1 PT EW Orchestra at 14/1 with
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