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Epsom Derby And Oaks Preview: City Of Troy Is A Terrible Favourite

With the Derby and Oaks Trials now over, I’m turning my attention to the ante-post markets at Epsom.
Dante Day 3 Preview

Oaks Looks Better Than The Derby

At this point, both races appear to be competitive, albeit for different reasons. Between the two, the Epsom Oaks seems to have greater depth, with multiple contenders having strong chances. On the other hand, the Epsom Derby lacks a clear  super star, although City Of Troy remains the favourite, but I will discuss him later.

Ylang Ylang Is Not A Stand Out

When it comes to the Epsom Oaks, the current favourite is Ylang Ylang for Aidan O’Brien. She was last seen finishing staying on into fifth place in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month. That race was over 1m, and she’ll have to improve to tackle this longer trip. 

However, if you look at her pedigree, she’s by Frankel, and her dam was placed in Listed company over 1m4f, so it shouldn’t be an issue. At the time of writing, she’s currently 5/2 with Rhino. I would say she deserves to be towards the front end of the market, but I don’t think she is head and shoulders above the opposition, as they are some exciting-looking fillies.

Moore Has A Dilemma

However, the one that is my main fancy for the race is also trained by Aidan O’Brien, Rubies Are Red. I was very impressed with her in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, though she only came second. If you go back and watch the race, you’ll see that she flew home from nowhere in the home straight to make up lots of ground. She recorded the fastest final three furlongs according to the sectional data, and I could see her relishing the course at Epsom.

Her sire, Galileo, has been the standout stallion over the last couple of decades, and he’s renowned for having his daughters rapidly improve when they get to three. I’d expect her to take a step forward from her Lingfield run, and it would be interesting to see who Ryan Moore would choose. Aidan O’Brien knows what it takes to win the Epsom Oaks, as he’s won it ten times in his career, so don’t be surprised to see him win it again.

Forest Fairy The Pick Of Becket’s Fillies’

Away from the Ballydoyle contingent, Ralph Beckett looks to have a strong hand of fillies, with the standout being Forest Fairy. She’s undefeated in her two starts, with both her racecourse outings coming over the Oaks trip. The last time we saw her, she showed a good attitude to win the Listed Cheshire Oaks at Chester, which has often been a good trial over the years for Epsom. Her jockey, Rossa Ryan, was quite impressed by her and said she would probably learn a lot from that run. If she does, then she can be a serious player in the Oaks.

The other filly that’s been talked about for the Oaks is Classical Song, after she finished third in the Musidora Stakes at York. I don’t see it; she did make up ground in the home straight, but I thought the winner, Secret Satire, always had her measure. Secret Satire would merit respect if Andrew Balding sent her to the Oaks, but I am not sure about the form, and I prefer the fillies I have already mentioned for the race.

Don’t Buy The City Of Troy Hype

Now it’s time to move over to the Epsom Derby. For me, this could be the weakest renewal of the Derby for quite some time. City Of Troy is the favourite, but his price of 2/1 is a joke to me. I didn’t buy the hype from last year as a juvenile, and I’ve never had him down as a Derby horse. His performance in the 2,000 Guineas was very disappointing, and there was plenty of talk about his appearance in the parade ring beforehand, with people saying that he hadn’t grown from two to three. It’s hard to see him bouncing back and being competitive in the Derby.

Aidan O’Brien managed to turn around Auguste Rodin last year, but he had the excuse of the ground, which managed to transpire for the rest of the season. Furthermore, in the last week or so, Aidan O’Brien has come out and remained bullish on his chances, which is bewildering. For me, City Of Troy had no real excuses in the 2,000 Guineas and has to be opposed.

However, the big question is what do you take him on with? As I’ve already mentioned this looks a weak renewal, and there aren’t too many horses that have standout claims.

Hard To Trust Ambiente Friendly

The second horse in the market is Ambiente Friendly for James Fanshawe, who won the Lingfield Derby Trial with plenty in hand. That performance kind of came from nowhere, as he was well-beaten in a Listed race at Newmarket last month. There’s no doubt he’s a good horse that anyone would like to own, but it’s hard to trust the form of that race as it looked like it fell apart. Therefore, at the prices, I have to leave him.

Don’t Understimate Los Angeles

Elsewhere Aidan O’Brien’s second-string Los Angeles is worth a second look. He was last seen winning at Leopardstown, and he is undefeated after three career starts. The son of Camelot is heading in the right direction, and he is by a Derby winner, so going to Epsom shouldn’t be a problem. The talk about him has been a little quiet due to the hype around City Of Troy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to throw his hat into the ring.

Voyage The Surprise Package

If you have read my tracker column, you might remember I wrote about a horse called Voyage for Richard Hannon. I was very taken by his win first time out at Newbury in April. He travelled so well throughout the race, and he looked like the winner a long way from home. His sire is Golden Horn, and his dam is a Galileo mare, so he’s got the pedigree to be a Derby horse. 

Richard Hannon has said that his owner, Julie Wood, is very keen to have a go at the Derby, so it looks like he’s an intended runner. It would be a massive step for him to get involved, but lightly-raced, big-priced horses have done it in the recent past. In fact, in 2021, Richard Hannon sent Mojo Star to the Derby, who had a similar profile to Voyage, and he managed to finish second at 50/1, so his team knows what it takes.

Two Lively Outsiders

Elsewhere, there are two other horses that I am also considering at bigger prices. The first one of them is Deira Mile, won at Windsor back in April on good-to-firm ground. He had some good form next to his name last season, which included a fourth in the Group 1 Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster. He hasn’t been since April, but he would be an interesting contender.

The other one that’s currently on my shortlist is Harper’s Ferry for Ed Walker. He won snugly at Windsor, beating a good horse of Ralph Beckett’s called Poniros, who finished second in the London Gold Cup at Newbury last weekend. I think that’s a strong piece of form, and his dam, Talent, won the Epsom Oaks, so again, he’s another contender that makes appeal on pedigree. The son of Lope De Vega has several nice entries, so he could be anything.

Overall, the Epsom picture could change a lot from now to the beginning of June, but as things currently stand this is how I see things.

If you are having a bet at Epsom, then please remember to gamble responsibly.

Epsom Oaks Shortlist

Rubies Are Red (3/1)

Forest Fairy (10/1)

Epsom Derby Shortlist

Los Angeles (6/1

Voyage (33/1)

Deira Mile (66/1)

Harper’s Ferry (66/1)

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With the Derby and Oaks Trials now over, I’m turning my attention to the ante-post markets at Epsom.
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