Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Epsom and Doncaster. View selections below
Today’s Epsom Derby is worth £782,314 to the winning owner or about a fortnight’s wagers if you are Wayne Rooney. The last ten winners of the race have come from the first four in the betting but today’s forecast heavy rain casts a massive cloud over the race.
Arod has long been my each way selection for the classic but connections want good or faster ground for the colt and, at the time of writing, there is rain due to hit the track on Saturday morning and last for much of the day. How much rain they get is fundamental to the make-up of the race.
On good ground I think Australia remains the one to beat but trainer Aidan O’Brien has voiced concerns over the possibility of soft ground for his colt whose sire, Galileo, won the classic in 2001 and whose dam, Ouija Board, won the Oaks a decade ago. He is certainly bred for the job but he is likely to drift in the market if the rains arrive and at 11/8 with BetVictor he is reluctantly overlooked.
If the rain arrives I expect to see a different Kingston Hill (4.00) than the one beaten 5 lengths at Newmarket in the Guineas and he is taken to reverse the form with Australia but only if the weather forecast is correct. Unbeaten in three starts as a juvenile Roger Varian’s colt was particularly impressive in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and that form has been given a much-needed boost of late by the successes of Snow Sky, Lingfield Derby Trial, and The Grey Gatsby, Dante and French Derby.
The other Group 1 on the card looks more straight-forward with French 8-year-old Cirrus Des Aigles hard to oppose. I have backed Battalion (2.40) each way at 40/1, however, earlier in the week in the hope that the forecast is correct and I don’t think he should be a 33/1 chance with BetVictor if the ground turns soft.
Trainer William Haggas said he felt like kicking himself up and down Newmarket High Street for letting him take his chance at Newbury last time on ground, palpably, too fast. Ryan Moore let him come home in his own time when headed and I think we can put a line through the form.
If the rain doesn’t arrive he could get lapped but I’m not convinced Flintshire wants soft ground and I certainly wouldn’t want to put anyone off last year’s Oaks winner Talent another who will relish significant rain.
The stands’ rail might be the place to be in the Dash and Evens Stevens (3.15) must go well from stall 20 with talented claimer Matthew Hopkins taking off a valuable 7lbs. His Catterick win in heavy ground last year reads very well and he could be very hard to peg back if bagging the rail.
Blue Wave and Mirsaale like to lead and I hope the pace is strong for Saptapadi (4.50) in the 12f handicap for Brian Ellison. The selection ran well when denied a run at York last time and has been dropped 1lb as a result. Silvestre De Souza looks a significant jockey booking, he goes on all ground and, although one win from 33 starts hardly suggests he is a winning machine, he will be a big price and one of these days everything will drop just right for him.
Many dangers but the obvious one is the progressive 4-y-o Stomachion who looked a horse to follow last autumn especially at Salisbury on heavy ground back in October. He showed faster ground held no terrors when scoring from a 5lb lower mark at Newmarket last weekend and he must go well with Ryan Moore again in the plate.
At Doncaster Satellite (3.45) is fitted with a hood for the first time having run an excellent race at Newbury in a hot handicap last time despite running away with Frankie Dettori. If proving more amenable to restraint this son of Danehill Dancer can land what is a fascinating 10f Classified event. The selection would be receiving 3lbs from some of the other horses if this were a handicap but I think he is the one to be with.