ITV Racing's Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to the Investec Derby Festival in his latest column and he has tips for both Classics, including a 25/1 chance in the big one.
Last Thursday’s evening card at Sandown was a terrific success and I was thrilled the groundbreaking ITV coverage reached 400,000 viewers. It just shows, the appetite is there for good midweek racing on terrestrial TV.
That has put the team in a great mood ahead of the Derby meeting and I still look upon this week last year as the most enjoyable in my ITV Racing career so far.
There was drama right from the off with Aidan O’Brien’s horses being delayed and we followed their progress from the airport and along the motorway to see if they would reach the track in time.
They did, with minutes to spare, but the drama was far from over. "He’s bailed, he’s bailed," yelled Jason Weaver when Daddys Lil Darling bolted to post prior to the Oaks, Olivier Peslier taking evasive action as the American filly charged towards the starting stalls.
Perhaps the rumbling of thunder had something to do with her spooking, but the electrical storm in the sky was tame compared to the one on the track as Enable scorched the turf to win the fillies’ Classic by five lengths in tremendous style.
It would be a surprise if this year’s Oaks was as enjoyable as that one and at the moment it looks an absolute guess up.
Lah Ti Dar’s unfortunate absence is the reason for that and what a shame for owners Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber, who have had some rank bad luck with this race. So Mi Dar, Lah Ti Dar’s half-sister, missed it two years ago with injury and who can forget The Fugue’s luckless passage in 2012?
Hopefully Lah Ti Dar will be fit and firing later in the season, but in her absence I’ll take Aidan O’Brien (who else?) to land the Oaks with unlucky Chester runner-up FOREVER TOGETHER.
Weaver was straight onto her Epsom chance after the Cheshire Oaks and I have come around to his way of thinking. She was stopped at every turn, it was her seasonal reappearance and she must improve a bundle for that.
It was a bit Wings Of Eagles-esque, really, and jockey plans later in the week will be fascinating, but in an open renewal I feel she has more improvement than most in her and for that reason the 13/2 Non Runner No Bet with Sky Bet appeals to me.
Also on Friday I’m looking forward to seeing Cracksman strut his stuff in the Investec Coronation Cup. It’s hard to believe he didn’t win last year’s Derby considering subsequent events but he should win this in a canter… it looks a penalty kick for him.
Investec Derby, Epsom Saturday June 2
Latest Sky Bet odds (Non Runner No Bet, prices correct at 1730 BST 28/05/2018)
- Saxon Warrior 8/11
- Roaring Lion 5/1
- Young Rascal 10/1
- Delano Roosevelt 12/1
- Hazapour 12/1
- Masar 14/1
- Knight To Behold 16/1
- Rostropovich 20/1
- The Pentagon 20/1
- DEE EX BEE 25/1
- Sevenna Star 25/1
- Kew Gardens 40/1
- Nelson 40/1
- Zabriskie 50/1
That brings us onto the main event, the Investec Derby, and it’s all about one horse. The unbeaten 2000 Guineas winner, the super son of Japanese sire Deep Impact, Saxon Warrior.
Part of me wants him to win by 10 lengths and announce himself as a superstar. Ballydoyle really should be commended for aiming for history and the Triple Crown with this horse, rather than thinking solely about the commercial side of their breeding operation.
If he wins this, make no mistake, Saxon Warrior will be on the front pages of newspapers ahead of the St Leger at Doncaster and that would be fantastic for the sport and everyone connected with it.
However, he’s 8/11 and I couldn’t back him at that price. The Guineas form took a few knocks with Gustav Klimt and particularly Elarqam being beaten in the Irish version at the weekend and Saxon Warrior does still have to prove that he stays.
That means the race has a nice betting shape to it for each-way punters and I’m mad keen on DEE EX BEE at 25/1 (NRNB with Sky Bet).
He’s got loads going for him. He won at the track as a juvenile, which is crucial, but nothing has gone right for him this season. He couldn’t get to the lead back at Epsom in the trial in April and then he was drawn wide in the Chester Vase where a bump from Young Rascal didn’t help his cause.
But he will relish this trip, unlike plenty, and I’d say Silvestre de Sousa, a great jockey booking by the way, will be doing his best to make sure this horse goes forward from an early stage.
If Saxon Warrior reels him in, all well and good - we'll have a monster Triple Crown story on our hands. But I’m convinced the big and likeable Dee Ex Bee will give us a great run for our money and he can at least hit the frame at big odds.