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Derby Day tips – best bets for the Epsom ITV races

Our racing expert gives his verdict on the televised action.

2:00 1m2f (1m2f17y) Investec Private Banking Handicap (Class 2) (3yo 0-105)
Soft ground is a concern for likely favourite Poet’s Prince, who has been doing all his winning on the all-weather and was second on fast turf at Newbury last time. John Gosden’s Court House has a similar profile, with his sole turf outing on good to firm yielding a second of three at Newmarket. Ship Of The Fen, on the other hand, won’t mind these conditions one bit as he was a soft ground winner over this trip in April. But a subsequent 6lb rise and a potentially tricky wide draw in stall 11 tempers enthusiasm for his chances of a follow up.

Instead, I’m going to take a chance on Sylvester Kirk’s GEORGE at a double-digit price (14/1 bet365) in the hope that he appreciates stepping from a mile for the first time. That he’s a brother to a 1m2f winner provides encouragement for that and his two efforts this season have been fair, including a fifth (of 15) at the Newmarket Craven meeting on his return. But his juvenile form is far more interesting as it includes a second over 7f here on heavy ground and off a 1lb higher mark than today’s. I’m also a big believer in trainer form and that’s a positive too as Kirk has saddled a couple of winners in the last and went close with 33/1 shot Salouen in yesterday’s Coronation Cup. Furthermore, and this clinches the bet for me, he’s had winners at 25/1, 16/1 and 10/1 plus a runner-up from just seven runners in this race.

2:35 1m½f (1m113y) Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) (Group 3) (Fillies & Mares) (Class 1) (3yo+)
There is no standout performer in this open race but ANNA NERIUM is going to appreciate today’s slower ground having found conditions far too quick when seventh in the 1000 Guineas last time. Already a winner at this level last season, albeit over 6f, she looked to have done well from two to three when landing the Free Handicap (7f, good) on her reappearance with loads in hand and there may well be more to come from her over a mile. Lincoln Rocks is a tough mare coming off a close second in a Group 3 and may give the selection most to do. Take Hills’ 9/2.

3:10 1m½f (1m113y) Investec Diomed Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo+)
David Simcock’s Arod can be relied upon to go well here having won this race in 2015 and finished fourth in the previous year’s Derby. Coming off a Listed success at Windsor, where he had the re-opposing Sovereign Debt well beaten off, he has to be thereabouts and is just preferred to stablemate Breton Rock, who is rated higher but is arguably better over 7f.

However, the stable is struggling for winners (1-28 in the last fortnight) and I’m therefore going to plump for Simon Crisford’s CENTURY DREAM instead, with bet365’s 4/1 looking fair value. He has a little to find on the official ratings having done most of his winning in handicaps, but he broke through at Listed level at Ascot on his most recent start, when just doing enough to hold Crazy Horse on the soft ground he loves. With conditions again in his favour and with his stable in fine form (4-16 in the last fortnight), he should go close to giving William Buick a deserved winner after a couple of seconds on Friday.

3:45 5f Investec Corporate Banking “Dash” Handicap (Class 2) (3yo+)
A typically wide open renewal, but one horse is almost guaranteed to go well is course specialist Caspian Prince, who is going for a remarkable fourth win in the race and fifth win in five starts at this track. He has been well beaten in recent starts but that was also the case 12 months ago, when he also overcame a low draw to come home in front at 25/1. He’s no bigger than 9/1 this time around, despite again being drawn low in stall two, and you’d be daft not to at least have a saver on him.

However, I’m going to have a bigger bet on last year’s unlucky runner-up DARK SHOT, who joined Scott Dixon from Andrew Balding during the winter and ran a blinder on his stable debut at York where he was just pipped at the post by El Astronaute, to whom he was conceding race fitness. Whilst he’s gone up a couple of pounds for that, he’s effectively running off a 2lb lower mark than 12 months ago, taking Jamie Gormley’s claim into account, and he’s also fared better with the draw as he will come out of stall 19 (of 20). Of course, he’s going to need some luck in running and hopefully a better start than last year, when he was slowest away, but he was up with the pace from the off at York and, like his dam, it’s quite possible he is getting quicker with age. I would have liked bigger than 6/1, and we might get it on the day itself, but I do think he has an outstanding chance.

4:30 ITV (1m4f6y) Investec Derby (Group 1) (Entire Colts & Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo)
Saxon Warrior is the best horse in the race and will win if staying the trip, but there is enough doubt over that to take him on at short odds with a couple of value longshots in DELANO ROOSEVELT and DEE EX BEE. You can read my full preview of the big race here.

SELECTIONS

Epsom 2.00, George each-way @ 14/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
Epsom 2.35, Anna Nerium @ 9/2 Hills
Epsom 3.10, Century Dream @ 4/1 bet365
Epsom 3.45, Dark Shot @ 6/1 bet365 / Caspian Prince (saver) @ 9/1 bet365
Epsom 4.30, Delano Roosevelt each-way @ 14/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3) / Dee Ex Bee each-way @ 25/1 Ladbrokes (1/5 odds, 1.2.3)

All odds were correct at time of posting.

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