Horse-by-horse guide and tips for Saturday's Investec Derby

Russian Emperor - rock-solid for the Investec Derby

David Ord has a horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Investec Derby and makes Russian Emperor a solid each-way bet at Epsom.

AMHRAN NA BHFIANN

Carries the name of the Irish National Anthem and a colt who was pointed at this prior to his reappearance in a Leopardstown maiden. He was only fourth there but the form is strong, Tiger Moth, Dawn Patrol and Order Of Australia finishing in front of him. It was a promising enough run but one that hardly suggested he would be up to winning Flat racing’s blue riband a month later – for all he’s bred to. He’s a 1.3million guineas full-brother to Was.

ARMORY

Also under consideration for the French Derby and things didn’t fall his way when fourth behind Siskin in Irish 2000 Guineas on his return. He’ll stay 10 furlongs but there has to be a question over a mile-and-a-half. Something you’ll hear a fair bit more of around here.

EMISSARY

Touched off by Khalifa Sat in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood but shaped well there, and seemed undone by greenness on only his second start. There’s more to come from the exciting son of Kingman who has place prospects but the worry is a test as tough as this arriving at such an early stage of his education.

ENGLISH KING

An awful lot to like about his win in the Lingfield Trial which confirmed he’s on a steep upward curve and hasn’t peaked yet. No stamina concerns and should handle the track so sure to give Frankie Dettori a great spin. The only issue is his price from a punting perspective but he must be there or thereabouts in such an open year.

Leading Investec Derby hope English King

GOLD MAZE

Too keen when sixth to Santiago in the Irish Derby and hard to make a compelling case for him to fare any better here – even if he settles.

HIGHLAND CHIEF

Did well to pass all but two rivals down the Ascot straight to win the Golden Gates Handicap from a mark of 101 at the Royal meeting. Impressed with his attitude as much as his sustained run there and could be more to come as he goes up to a mile-and-a-half.

Highland Chief is driven out to win

KAMEKO

The best horse in the race having landed the QIPCO 2000 Guineas on his return. 10 furlongs should be within his compass but there are obvious concerns about the extra two furlongs of a Derby. His sire was a middle-distance performer but there isn’t oodles of stamina on the dam’s side and the simple answer is we won’t know until Oisin Murphy presses the button at the two furlong marker. If he stays – he wins.

KHALIFA SAT

Dictated matters when beating Emissary at Goodwood and while he’s far from certain to confirm that form here, he remains an improving colt in his own right and one over whom there are no stamina questions to answer.

MAX VEGA

Beat Miss Yoga in the Zetland Stakes last season but only fifth behind Berlin Tango in the Classic Trial at Kempton on his return. Could be better than that – but needs to be, and by some margin too.

MOGUL

Looked the Ballydoyle number one for this race before a laboured return in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot. Has five lengths to find with Pyledriver on that form but the vibes from home are he’s thrived for the reappearance and the team haven’t lost faith. Neither should we but this is very much D-day and he needs to start delivering on his early promise.

MOHICAN HEIGHTS

Tracked and passed Mogul in the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot but that was only sufficient for fourth place. Things didn’t pan out for him there and he too is entitled to take a leap forward. Another who has place claims in such an open year.

MYTHICAL

Excuses for his run in the Gallinule Stakes on his return but even the balance of his two-year-old form leaves him with a lot to find. Might have to offer a helping hand to a stablemate or three instead.

PYLEDRIVER

Earned a shot at this with his impressive win in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot where he had too much speed for his rivals. Whether things will fall as well for him here is another question and they’ll be a more searching gallop but he’s every right to be here – and we’ve learned all about underestimating him in the past too.

RUSSIAN EMPEROR

The most solid of the Ballydoyle team for me, looking more polished when winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot than had been the case before. He knuckled down well at the finish there, will relish going up to a mile-and-a-half and there’s more to come. At around 7/1 he looks a solid each-way play.

SERPENTINE

From the family of Dylan Thomas and impressive winner of maiden at the Curragh last time. That performance represented a career best but he needs to back it up with another to be competitive against more battle-hardened rivals.

VATICAN CITY

A full-brother to Gleneagles, he ran a fine race to chase home Siskin in the Irish 2000 Guineas and would have finished closer to the winner with a clear passage. Only had three starts and a fascinating prospect, but we return to the same question with him – stamina. 10 furlongs looks like it wouldn’t be an issue, a mile-and-a-half might just be.

WORTHILY

Closely-related to a St Leger winner in Lucarno and a very impressive winner on his belated debut at Nebwury last month. In very good hands and an exciting prospect but this is such a tough test for a colt with only one race under his belt for all those previous positive points stand.

VERDICT:

There are reasons to take on the front two in the market, English King on price grounds and Kameko with the stamina doubts. Emissary and Mohican Heights appeal as sporting each-way suggestions but a much more solid one is RUSSIAN EMPEROR. He’s learning his trade but did well to win the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot and should appreciate going up in trip here.

With Mogul under-performing on his return and Vatican City having significant stamina doubts surrounding him, the selection is the most solid of the Ballydoyle raiding party and a colt I struggle to see outside the three on Saturday.


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