The first weekend in June has become the traditional date for the two Epsom middle distance classics and whereas The Oaks appears to be an open race according to the markets, The Derby betting is dominated by the Aidan O’Brien trained colt Australia.
After a third place in the 2,000 Guineas, Australia will be attempting more than a mile for the first time in his career and although his breeding suggests a 1m4f pedigree, he is by no means a definite winner of the classic.
Betfair are currently trading at 2.64 for Australia (around 6/4+) for the Investec Derby and having Galileo and Ouija Board as his parents does offer him an advantage. He trounced the much vaunted Free Eagle at Leopardstown in September and ran creditably when third to Night of Thunder in the 2,000 Guineas.
Aiden O’Brien has already intimated that he may be one of his greatest ever horses but that he does need quicker ground to produce his best form. With rain forecast this week, it may be wise to look at the alternatives.
Stable mate Geoffrey Chaucer is second favourite at 8/1 with Paddy Power and he lost his unbeaten record when finishing only third in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown. It was claimed that he was unlucky in running that day, but he did fail to grasp a couple of opportunities to quicken and it may just be that he lacks a real turn of foot.
Ahead of Geoffrey Chaucer that day was Fascinating Rock who finished second and may be better suited by the extra distance of the Derby. He is quoted at 14/1 by Skybet but the winner of that race, Ebadoran, showed a good attitude and an ability to quicken. The John Oxx trained colt is a Sadler’s Wells horse and may be worth an each-way bet at 16/1 with BetVictor.
Of the English participants, Kingston Hill is the more favoured horse at a price of 8/1 with Bet365. Trained by Roger Varian and sired by Rainbow Quest, the Racing Post Trophy winner was disappointing in the 2,000 Guineas when only finishing eighth but may improve for the extra four furlongs.
Unbeaten Western Hymn has raced mainly on easy ground but won the Sandown classic trial in a manner which suggests there is scope for improvement assuming he can handle the Epsom gradients. John Gosden recently sent the son of High Chaparral to the Downs for a racecourse gallop and is hopeful of a decent performance from a colt priced at 14/1 by Ladbrokes.
True Story had once been quoted as second favourite after an impressive display at Newmarket. A subsequent third to The Grey Gatsby in the Dante Stakes at York dented his reputation, but soft ground prevailed that day and the winner has since won the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. Ladbrokes are offering 14/1 for his Derby chances but of more appeal might be Dante second Arod.
He won impressively at Windsor before finishing well after being hampered in the closing stages at York. Arod may represent decent each way value at 16/1 with Skybet.
For the Oaks on Friday, Taghrooda and Marvellous are disputing favouritism. Unbeaten Taghrooda is a daughter of Sea The Stars and could not have been more impressive when winning the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket with Bet365 offering her at 10/3 to win this contest.
Aidan O’Brien trained Marvellous comfortably won the Irish 1,000 Guineas after a disappointing seasonal appearance, but the stable horses are improving as the season progresses and she is offered at 10/3 by Coral for the Oaks. The only concern is the two week gap between the two races.
Of the other runners, Ithimal won by 10 lengths over 10 furlongs at Meydan and is 8/1 with Betfred whereas Tarfasha was a comfortable winner of 1m2f event at Naas, although it is difficult to gauge the strength of that form. She is priced at 7/1 William Hill for Friday.
5pts EW – Arod – 16/1 Skybet
5pts EW – Ebanoran – 16/1 BetVictor
10pts win – Taghrooda – 10/3 Bet365