Saturday, September 18, 2021

Runners & Riders – Epsom Derby 2021

Matthew Steeples selects three ‘dark horse’ options for the Epsom Derby 2021 at 13/1, 8/1 and 15/1 as well as options for three earlier races

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Blue Riband,’ the Epsom Derby is considered the best of the five Classics.

Inaugurated in 1780 and originally sponsored by the Earl of Debry, this 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards Group 1 flat race is open to three-year-old colts and fillies. It inspired the 1952 film Derby Day starring Michael Wilding and Anna Neagle and aside from having been won by Lester Piggott nine times, its leading trainer has been Aidan O’Brien with eight winners to date.

In 2019 and 2020, O’Brien scored victories with Anthony Van Dyck and Serpentine and today the heavily backed favourite is his single runner, Bolshoi Ballet at 3/2 (Radio 4, The Sun NAP, GG.co.uk, Daily Mail ‘Robin Goodfellow’ and ‘Gimcrack’ NAP).

Opting for slightly ‘darker horses,’ my selections for this cracking spectacle and three earlier races follow.

Third Realm Roger Varian Epsom Derby 2021
Roger Varian hopes to land the Cazoo Derby with Third Realm “after waiting seven years to find the ‘right horse’ following Kingston’s Hill’s second place” in 2014, according to the ‘Daily Mail’s’ Marcus Townend. Varian has branded the Sheik Mohammed Obaid owned horse “a relaxed character” and “a cool dude.”
One Ruler Charlie Appleby
The £1.125 million Group One Cazoo Derby is considered the jewel in the crown of British flat racing and of Charlie Appleby’s One Ruler, ‘Wigan Today’ remark: “The forgotten horse in the line-up. Sixth in the 2000 Guineas, but the step up in trip should be the making of him. An interesting each-way player.”

4.30pm Epsom Downs – The Cazoo Derby (12 runners, 3 places)

Roger Varian trained Third Realm at 13/1 from 14/1 earlier (The Sun ‘Longshot’)

The Sun states: “Can spring a surprise in the Derby. He won the Lingfield Trial fair and square and is one of the few in the field with proven staying power.”

Racing Post remarks: “Convincing winner of Lingfield Derby Trial (soft); a handy type who can improve further.”

Also in the same race, J.  S. Bolger trained Mac Swiney at 8/1 from 15/2 earlier (RP Ratings, Daily Express, The Star, Daily Record)

Greg Wood for Guardian offers: “On balance, and unless his price drifts abruptly, Bolshoi Ballet looks worth opposing with an each-way alternative, and Hurricane Lane and Mac Swiney are the most obvious candidates with the form and potential to make them plausible winners. Mac Swiney’s odds began to contract as the ground eased on Friday but 11-2 is still a fair price for a colt who had enough class to land a Guineas last time but will surely be better still at 12 furlongs.”

Racing Post adds: “Two Group 1 wins on testing going, the latter in Irish 2,000 Guineas; likely to stay 1m4f.”

Also in the same race, James Doyle – Charlie Appleby combo One Ruler at 15/1 from 22/1 earlier (Sporting Life)

Matt Brocklebank for Sporting Life shares: “The value may now lie with ONE RULER, one of Charlie Appleby’s trio, who also enjoys ease underfoot and isn’t badly position either ‘out wide’ in stall 11 (they turn right-handed to begin with, don’t forget).”

“He ran consistently as a two-year-old and his juvenile form ties in really well with some of the other leading Derby contenders in that he beat Maximal a length and a half in a Sandown maiden, with that horse subsequently beaten a length into second behind Hurricane Lane at Newbury in April, and signed off in October with a narrow defeat to Mac Swiney in desperate conditions in the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.”

“Prior to that he’d beaten subsequent top-class winner Van Gogh in the Group Three Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, form that has worked out quite nicely with the fourth Megallan pushing Hurricane Lane close in the Dante last month. He ran consistently as a two-year-old and his juvenile form ties in really well with some of the other leading Derby contenders in that he beat Maximal a length and a half in a Sandown maiden, with that horse subsequently beaten a length into second behind Hurricane Lane at Newbury in April, and signed off in October with a narrow defeat to Mac Swiney in desperate conditions in the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.”

“Prior to that he’d beaten subsequent top-class winner Van Gogh in the Group Three Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, form that has worked out quite nicely with the fourth Megallan pushing Hurricane Lane close in the Dante last month. He’ll travel into it better than most, I suspect, and it’s well worth highlighting the fact Appleby’s sole Derby success to date came via Masar, who was a 16/1 drifter on the day based on the fact many (even those closest to him) doubted his stamina for 12 furlongs after a good third in the Guineas.”

Racing Post less enthusiastic: “Chased home Mac Swiney on final 2yo run; not guaranteed to stay 1m4f on pedigree.”

Turning to earlier races at Epsom Downs, I also suggest:

2pm Epsom Downs (8 runners, 3 places)

Mark Johnston trained Chase The Dollar at 17/2 from 8/1 earlier (The Sun ‘Each Way Thief’, SPOTLIGHT, Racing Post)

The Sun suggests: “He went close at Newcastle last time and looks on a fair weight in an open contest.”

Racing Post adds: “This race may principally concern Patient Dream and the Mark Johnston runners King Frankel and CHASE THE DOLLAR… Battled to a narrow defeat at Newcastle (1m2f, AW) latest; can make further improvement.”

Oisin Murphy – Ralph Beckett combo Patient Dream at 14/5 from 11/4 earlier (Racing Post ‘Ace Tipster’, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, The Star, Daily Record)

Keith Melrose for Racing Post muses: “Beat a host of subsequent improvers at the track last time and is bound to be suited by this step up in trip.”

Racing Post adds: “8.5f win here on reappearance; races freely but he’s bred to be well suited by 1m2f+.”

At The Races concludes: “It may be worth taking him on with the course experience of PATIENT DREAM here though. Ralph Beckett’s showed a real liking for this idiosyncratic venue when successful over shorter last time and the step up in trip could help him overcome a 7lb hike.”

2.35pm Epsom Downs (8 runners, 3 places)

Oisin Murphy on Parent’s Prayer at 19/4 from 9/2 earlier (Radio 4, TOPSPEED)

Racing Post remarks: “Listed winner on soft last October; might not be far away.”

3.45pm Epsom Downs (19 runners, 5 places with Ladbrokes ’The Grid’)

Tony Carroll trained Recon Mission at 17/2 (The Sun ‘Each Way Thief’, Guardian)

The Sun says: “He won well here last time and not all horses handle this helter-skelter track. He can strike again.”

 

Greg Wood for Guardian reserves: “Recon Mission and Ray Dawson were ready winners over track and trip in April and Tony Carroll’s gelding has a fair chance of a follow-up from a 3lb higher mark.”

 

Racing Post adds: “Won in April (good) on the second of two C&D starts; best form would see him thereabouts.”

 

Hans Solo Berger at 18/1 from 16/1 earlier (Racing Post ‘Dark Horse’)

Sam Hardy for Racing Post muses: “Consistent type who looks potentially well handicapped given he is rated 5lb higher on the all-weather. Jockey George Wood is bidding for his third win aboard the Chris Wall-trained six-year-old.”

 

Racing Post adds: “Ran well at Ascot in April but hasn’t been back here since one go in 2018.”

 

Also in the same race, Oisin Murphy – Andrew Balding combo Stone Of Destiny at 15/2 from 7/1 earlier (POSTDATA, The Sun, Daily Telegraph, GG.co.uk)

The Sun shares: “Consistent and another good run at Goodwood latest.”

 

Racing Post says: “Close 2nd over 5f at Goodwood latest; a slow starter who will need luck in running.”

 

At The Races less enthusiastic: “It usually pays to focus on those drawn high. Stone Of Destiny is one such horse but his tendency to start slowly is a big negative.”

 

To join our racing followers – who receive a FREE tipping email six days per week, email editorial@thesteepletimes.com.

 

Happy racing.

 

Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.

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