The Epsom Derby is one of those days where most racing fans can remember the first time they really sat up and took notice of the sport.
Mine was when David O’Brien’s Secreto beat the mighty El Gran Senor, trained by his father, Vincent, in that epic battle many years ago.
We start at 14.00 with a 1m 2f handicap. Nayef Road actually ran in the Dante Stakes won by Derby hopeful Telecaster. When I spoke with Sylvestre Da Sousa after that York race, he was convinced that Nayef Road was a Group horse. He will need all of that class to carry 9-7 on Saturday but I’m willing to take SDS’S word and let NAYEF ROAD prove his worth here.
The Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at 14.35 is a good chance for Ryan Moore to strike again as he rides likely favourite Veracious. She looked in need of the outing last time and with that run under her belt, she will be tough to pass. For non favourite backers, there may be a little value in NYALETI. This one has some cracking form to her name and last time was a definite step in the right direction. Mark Johnston’s daughter of Arch has not won for a while, but don’t let that put you off. She is going the right way.
Zaaki is the likely favourite for the Group 3 over 1m at 15.10 off the back of a good win at Ascot where he claimed the scalp of Barney Roy. However, BYE BYE HONG KONG has kept pretty lofty company this season, winning twice for trainer Andrew Balding. He beat Oh This Is Us at Windsor comfortably and looks to have a bright future. I really like the King Power-owned runner though horse though with SDS in the saddle.
The 5f Epsom Dash is an amazing spectacle at 15.45 and with this being one of the fastest sprint tracks in the Uk – the draw and how you break is all important. Course form is very important and JUST THE LORD ticks that box. He finished third in this last season and is on a handy mark again. He gets the vote with regulars like Duke of Firenze and Caspian Prince bound to be thereabouts.
I was all over Sir Dragonet when he won the Chester Vase. He is a big, strong, boy who took a huge step forward from his first run at Tipperary to win. My concern now is that he was ridden ‘cold’ that day and was allowed to creep into it the contest. He came alive then and absolutely bolted up. On quick ground though, the start will be all important for him, and while he has lots going for him with Ryan Moore in the saddle, I’m going to overlook him this time.
Aidan O’Brien has six other runners in the race apart from Sir Dragonet, and the one for me is the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trail winner BROOME who is guaranteed to stay the 1m 4f trip. Donnacha O’Brien will be trying to follow in his brother Joseph’s footsteps by winning this and he has an excellent chance here. Anthony Van Dyke was workman-like when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial but connections believe he will improve.
York Dante winner Telecaster is raw, but talented. He’ll have to do it the hard way as that contest was only 16 days ago. Connections have paid the supplementary fee of £85,000 to run, so they must feel it is a gamble worth taking.
Andrew Balding’s Bangkok is another whose form stacks up. He beat Telecaster in March and was very impressive on his last run at Sandown and should run into the places at least.
*Prices correct at publication