Saturday 4th July brings us the Investec Derby Day at Epsom Downs and horse racing analyst Will Smith is back with more hot tips for both the Derby and the Oaks.
Read Will’s free Derby day tips below or visit our horse racing tips page for more hot picks.
Note: Any odds featured on this page were correct at time of publishing (10:30 am 30/06/2020) and are subject to change.
Small but select fields look the order of the day this weekend at Epsom, as the Oaks has only attracted 11 entries. The Derby itself has 17 entries, and with Aidan O’Brien potentially saddling seven of them, it looks a cracking, if not overly easy, puzzle to try and solve. More of that later…
The bet of the weekend comes earlier on the card, in the Woodcote Stakes over 6f at 1.50. This race is often a nice stepping stone for a good horse, and Pinatubo won it last year. Mark Johnston has a good record in the race, understandably for a trainer with a standout record with two-year-olds year on year, and he could saddle three – potentially the pick of them could be Mutazawwed.
At first glance there isn’t an obvious superstar among them, and if there was a danger to the selection it could be Owen Burrows’ debut winner Twaasol, who looked green as grass at Windsor. I’d be worried about going to a track like Epsom on just his second racecourse start.
By far the most interesting horse in the field is Mamba Wamba – available at 8/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral. Regular followers will know that I was keen on Adrian Nicholls’ filly for the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, and while she was only sixth, it doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story.
The Queen Mary was run at a scorching pace, and in particular the closing sectionals of the winner, the Wesley Ward-trained Campanelle, were much the best of any two-year-old event that week. That Mamba Wamba could make up ground from mid division into a never nearer sixth in the latter stages of the race marks her down as a filly with huge natural ability. While it must be noted that the race seemed to develop on the other side of the track to where she was drawn.
There is a very real possibility of her improving markedly for the step up to 6f here too, given she has been notably strong in the finish on both her debut effort at Newcastle and also in the Queen Mary. Put simply, while a few layers have noticed this and priced her up accordingly at as short as 9/2, it seems Ladbrokes and Coral are willing to take a chance at 8/1.
If she was trained in a bigger yard then she would be nearer favourite for the race, and given the conditions of the race she receives a huge chunk of weight from all the opposition, despite perhaps being the best horse in the race.
Adrian Nicholls wouldn’t be known to everyone, but he comes from vintage sprinting blood, as his father Dandy Nicholls was a brilliant trainer of fast horses, winning any number of good sprint races – the duo combined to win the Epsom Dash in 2002 – with Adrian riding the Dandy-trained Rudi’s Pet.
The family have history at Epsom, and I strongly believe Mamba Wamba can go very close to etching another little notch into that history on Saturday.
Amrhan Na Bhfiann – 50/1 EW (generally)
Having recommended backing Aidan O’Brien’s Russian Emperor at 10/1 last week, it is pleasing to seem him confirmed for the race, and I do believe he could be the pick of the Ballydoyle runners, and potentially the pick of Ryan Moore.
However, after events of last weekend at the Curragh, when Aidan O’Brien saddled the first four home in the Irish Derby, I feel it might be prudent to add another massive-priced string to our Derby bow.
Santiago backed up his Royal Ascot win in scintillating fashion by winning the Irish Derby, but what has flown slightly under the radar is how the next three home all came from the same stable and finished 1-2-3 in a Leopardstown maiden three weeks ago. O’Brien saddled the first four home on that occasion too, and it is the fourth home then, Amhran Na Bhfiann at 50/1 generally, that could be a good each-way bet for the Derby.
Sent of an unconsidered 22/1 shot that day, he looked as if he had been earmarked with providing a nice tow into the race for more illustrious stablemates. That view proved true, but he ran very well to finish fourth, and interestingly had been mentioned in dispatches as a Derby contender even a few weeks before that seasonal debut. That his only run before that was an uninspiring 13th of 16 as a two-year-old, this assumption made the ears prick up somewhat.
His sister Was, won the Oaks at Epsom at odds of 20/1, having had just the two racecourse starts also. Lightning could strike twice, and at wild odds of 50/1 I’m willing to find out if Amhran Na Bhfiann is more than just a pacemaker this Saturday.