Who do I think is the most likely winner of the Investec Derby? It has to be Jan Vermeer. Who do I think is the best betting proposition? It has to be MIDAS TOUCH. Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won English racing’s premier Classic since 2002, but that looks set to change tomorrow and his supposed second string looks terrific each-way value at 6/1 with William Hill.
The ante-post Derby picture has changed dramatically in recent weeks since the withdrawal of long-term market leader St Nicholas Abbey. Jan Vermeer was trading at around 20/1 for this race before making his successful seasonal reappearance at the Curragh and, even though he shortened drastically immediately after the race, it still appeared his target would be the French Derby. However, in the space of about 10 days he has rattled to the top of the betting as he has become the chosen mount of stable jockey Johnny Murtagh in St Nicholas Abbey’s absence.
He did look mightily impressive when winning that particular Group 3 at the Curragh without even coming off the bridle. Yet, even though he had to carry a 7lb penalty, the quality of the field he beat has to be questioned. I’d far rather concentrate on his rock solid two-year-old form which included a comprehensive win in the Group 1 Criterium International. As a son of Montjeu, he is bred to win a Derby and he hasn’t shown anything on the racecourse that suggests he is not up to the task. The one thing that puts me off is the price and I simply cannot be backing him at as short as 13/8.
Midas Touch comes into the race on the back of arguably a far more impressive trial. Even though he only faced three other rivals in the Derrinstown, the race was run in an exceptionally quick time and he showed true battling qualities in the straight having looked in trouble. The Ballydoyle team were under a slight cloud at the time and I expect plenty of improvement from the son of Galileo. He finished behind his better fancied stablemate Jan Vermeer on two occassions as a two-year-old, but arguably is better bred for the ‘Epsom challenge’ and is available at over three times the price.
Of the others, Workforce, Bullet Train and Rewilding all look set to run big races, but just don’t look like Derby winners waiting to happen. If there is to be an upset, then Michael Bell’s Coordinated Cut could outrun his odds of around 25/1 on Betdaq. He was in front for a long time in the Dante and will be a different horse with some cover.
The Derby day card is always fiendishly difficult, but Alain de Royer-Dupre’s filly REGGANE should have far too much class for the rest of the field in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She has the Godolphin pair of Antara and Aspectoflove to beat, but Saeed bin Suroor’s horses haven’t been running well lately. Reggane was second to Ghanaati at Royal Ascot last year and on that form she would eat this lot for breakfast.
Epsom’s ‘Dash’ (3.15pm) is the quickest five furlongs anywhere in Europe, so you need a horse who can live with the fierce pace. Chris Wall’s FATHOM FIVE has won twice over this course and distance and finished sixth in this race two years ago on his only other appearance at the track. He has an excellent draw in stall 18 right against the stands rails and Wall’s stable is bang in form at the moment.
REGGANE Epsom 2.40pm (tomorrow)
FATHOM FIVE e/w Epsom 3.15pm (tomorrow)
MIDAS TOUCH e/w Epsom 4.00pm (tomorrow)