Betting guide to the Epsom Derby

This Saturday is the 229th running of the Derby held at Epsom. JONATHAN TEWSON takes a look which horses could win this prestigious race and claim the £1.25million prize. AT the time of writing there were 18 horses declared for one of the richest horse

This Saturday is the 229th running of the Derby held at Epsom. JONATHAN TEWSON takes a look which horses could win this prestigious race and claim the £1.25million prize.

AT the time of writing there were 18 horses declared for one of the richest horse races in the world, with a total prize fund of £1.25m.

The talk this week has been of the Jim Bolger-trained New Approach. The trainer had been saying that the colt would side-step this race in preference for the Irish equivalent, but it now appears that he will take his chance at Epsom. This Irish raider ran five times as a two-year-old and won each start, including two Group 1 races. This season he has had two outings and was beaten on both occasions by the brilliant Henrythenavigator from the Aidan O'Brien stable, who has chosen not to participate at Epsom. Therefore many feel that this gives New Approach an ideal opportunity to stamp his authority and confirm his position as the second best three-year-old in Britain. However, both races this season have been over one mile, and not the one-and-a-half miles that he will encounter on Saturday.

This extra distance might just be his undoing. Therefore, even though the trainer is obviously confident, I think we may need to look elsewhere for the winner.


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Another horse that may go off favourite is Casual Conquest trained by Dermot Weld. This horse has only run twice in its career, and last time out was the impressive winner of a Derby Trial over 11/4 miles at Leopardstown. This trial has produced three subsequent Derby winners in the last decade and therefore must be respected and added to any shortlist. However, there is a question mark over whether he will handle the trip and, in particular, Tattenham Corner.

The third horse vying for favouritism is the Newmarket-based Luca Cumani's Curtain Call. This trainer won the Derby in 1988 and 1998, so is 2008 his year? This colt has had a workout at Epsom and appeared to handle the track, and the importance of this can not be stressed enough. He was due to run in the Lingfield Derby Trial (won by Alessandro Volta) but was withdrawn due to the firm going, and with the going likely to be on the soft side of good this could further play into our hands. This colt has the benefit of an extremely shrewd trainer and I feel could go very close at odds of around 5/1 ridden by the extremely capable Jamie Spencer, joint winner of the 2007 Jockey's Championship.

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The next three in the betting are all trained by Sir Michael Stoute - Doctor Fremantle, Tajaaweed and Tartan Bearer. Tartan Bearer won the Dante at York which is usually a good trial and has produced 3 of the last 4 Derby winners. However, the favourite on that day ran below-par and I am not quite sure of the quality of the horses he beat on the day. Although, with the jockey booking of Ryan Moore, he appears to be the best of Stoute's three entries but I would be surprised if he was good enough. Tajaaweed won the Dee Stakes at the Chester which is a very different track to Epsom but the race has produced recent Derby winners. I wonder if he will handle the track. Doctor Fremantle won the Chester Vase, a race in which the winner has not gone on to win the Derby in last 25 years.

Aidan O'Brien, successful with back-to-back successes at Epsom in 2001 and 2002, comes to the Derby with a five-pronged attack - Alessandro Volta, Bashkirov, Frozen Fire, Washington Irving and King of Rome. Of the five, preference is for King of Rome but I would not be surprised if none of them featured in the finish.

Frankie Dettori broke his duck in the Derby last year aboard Authorized and this year rides the Godolphin's Rio De La Plata. He is currently on offer at 20/1 and I think even the 'Frankie Factor' will not enable him to be involved in the shake-up with stamina being a major doubt.

Of the remainder, I like the look of River Proud. This colt is trained by Paul Cole who was successful in this race with Generous in 1991. Earlier this week his connections made the decision to supplement River Proud at a cost of £75,000. In both of his two runs this year there have been excuses. Last time out in the French Guineas he finished the mile trip strongly and, even though stamina may be his downfall (like so many of the others), at odds of 33/1 I am prepared to take a chance.

Conclusion

Curtain Call (win @ 5/1)

River Proud (each way @ 33/1)

In what looks a very open Derby this year I think that Luca Cumani will be successful with Curtain Call, and am hopeful that River Proud will give us a good run for our money and make a place.

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