The biggest two days in the Flat racing calendar are upon us as the Investec Derby Festival gets underway at Epsom. Our racing expert has previews of the two big races, the Oaks and the Derby for you to enjoy below.
This is perhaps one of the most open looking Oaks for a long time, with the top-four in the betting all having won last time. In all honesty, it’s very hard to split the John Gosden-trained pair of Mehdaayih and Anapurna. Both were impressive in their trials and I wouldn’t be surprised if either won. Perhaps it’s telling that Frankie Dettori has chosen Anapurna and at around 11/2, she’s probably the bet of the two.
Pink Dogwood is the 9/4 favourite with Grosvernorsport.com and she’s the one at the head of the market, I really can’t have. The ground at Epsom is at worst going to be good and all of the form of Aidan O’Brien’s runner is on soft, with her most disappointing run being on good ground at Longchamp in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac. At that price, she’s got to be taken on and I’m going to do that with Maqsad.
William Haggas’ three-year-old got the job done, just, on her seasonal reappearance at Newmarket over a mile, but it was clear that was a trip short of her optimum. That’s because when stepped up to 1m2f the next time, she absolutely bolted up and although some think she might be a bit pacey for this mile and a half trip, I think there’s plenty more to come. 7/1 is a huge price in my eyes and I’m very keen on her.
Of the 13 horses declared for this year’s Derby, seven are trained by Aidan O’Brien. In my opinion, this race is simply about figuring out which one of those will win and I’ve come down on Anthony Van Dyck at 13/2.
He was pretty successful as a two-year-old, winning on three occasions over seven furlongs and a mile. He was also just touched off by Quorto in the National Stakes, which looks very strong form. However, we perhaps didn’t see the potential the horse had until he was stepped up in trip at Lingfield in their Derby Trial. He powered away in convincing fashion and given he has form on a fast surface, I’d much prefer to be with him than Sir Dragonet at 11/4. The favourite is guaranteed to stay, but has only run twice in his life and I’m against him at the prices.