The Betfred Derby looks one of the most wide open in years with 14 runners set to head to post. It features all the leading connections you would expect in the world’s greatest race, but could a fairytale follow in a final farewell Derby success for Frankie Dettori?
Here, we go through the fourteen runners and their chances.
ADELAIDE RIVER – Sired by Derby winner Australia (hence the name) he was eased at Chester when six lengths behind Arrest. Trailed him and Dubai Mile in Saint Cloud last October and without a win since a debut success. Aidan O’Brien has pulled rabbits out of hats here before, but he would be a surprise winner.
ARREST – Are the tears set to flow for a farewell Frankie success? Arrest comes here on the back of an easy Chester Vase success and a narrow defeat last season at Saint Cloud to Dubai Mile. He won a maiden on good to firm but his best form has come with plenty of dig and he did hang at Chester to the stands’ side. Does have leading claims to deliver the story horse racing wants, but ground and ability to handle the course are questions to be answered.
ARTISTIC STAR – Unbeaten in two starts, impressively winning a Nottingham maiden last year before scoring at Sandown 18 days ago under a penalty. Both races on soft ground and takes a massive step up in class here, but has beaten everything he has encountered and connections saddled the unlucky third in last year's race. Not a forlorn hope but would be a good result for punters.
AUGUSTE RODIN – Three juvenile victories culminating in a Group 1 victory at Doncaster in October that saw him head into winter quarters as favourite for both the 2000 Guineas and the Betfred Derby. Talked about as a potential Triple Crown contender by trainer on a pre-season stable tour but that came crashing down when trailing in a well beaten twelfth at Newmarket. Aidan O’Brien has not lost the faith and still insists we will see the real deal here, and the market has backed him up. Fascinating contender and the man knows what it takes, bidding to win his ninth Betfred Derby.
DEAR MY FRIEND – Well beaten in the Dante so will need to turn around form with the first three there, and even that may not be good enough. Listed winner on the all-weather but trainer has a stronger candidate.
DUBAI MILE – Had Arrest and Adelaide River behind when a gutsy and game winner over ten furlongs at Saint Cloud in October. Opened his campaign with a staying on fifth in the 2000 Guineas, an eye-catching run considering the trip would certainly have been on the short side. Has plenty of experience and will be running on strongly when others have cried enough. In a race of doubtful stayers, he is not one and looks a decent each way play.
KING OF STEEL – Wide margin debut winner at Nottingham, and then turned up just ten days later in the Futurity at Doncaster. Beaten ten lengths by Auguste Rodin there and got worked up at the start in the Dante so missed his trial. Makes seasonal and stable debut in the hottest race of its kind. Another would be surprising scorer.
MILITARY ORDER – No horse in the line-up has greater credentials than this fellow as a full brother to 2021 Derby hero Adayar. Useful in his own right and could live up to the billing, having beaten a useful yardstick easily on seasonal return and then landing the Lingfield Derby Trial from Waipiro, albeit on the all-weather. Ground and trip are no concern but stable form is. Just three winners from their last 25 runners at a 12% strike rate and plenty of short ones turned over too.
PASSENGER – The intriguing entry, added to the contest on Monday at a cost of £85,000 by connections after a luckless passage when third in the Dante at York. Impressive winner of the Wood Ditton and Sir Michael Stoute won the race in 2010 with Workforce following a Dante defeat. Stoute also landed last year’s contest with Richard Kingscote on board Desert Crown, so is looking for back-to-back wins in the world’s greatest race and a seventh success overall. Reportedly laid back and professional at home and could be the one to surprise all here.
SAN ANTONIO – Two wins as a 3yo following a Dundalk maiden success with a game all the way victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester. Kris Kin was the last horse to do that double in 2003. Fair second strong for Ballydoyle but may need to replicate the tactics of Serpentine in 2020 to win.
SPREWELL – Jessica Harrington bids to become the first female to train a Derby winner and this fellow has improved with each start to date. He shed the maiden tag at Naas in March before staying on strongly to win the Irish Derby Trial four weeks ago, running through the line. All runs have come on soft or heavy so needs to prove he can act on the ground. Certainly one to consider.
THE FOXES – Took traditionally the strongest trial for the Betfred Derby when coming through to win the Dante at York, ahead of White Birch and Passenger. Would be quite an exposed Derby winner on his seventh start and goes up to twelve furlongs for the first time, slight doubt from the sire’s side and reportedly shows plenty of speed.
WAIPIRO – Only one and a quarter lengths behind Military Order at Lingfield and made him work for victory, so hard to see why he is four times the price on just a fourth career start. 25/1 novice success at Newmarket in April perhaps surprised a few but wouldn’t be surprised to see him outrun his price and have more behind than ahead at the line.
WHITE BIRCH – Ballysax Stakes winner at Leopardstown who almost followed up at York, going down by a neck to The Foxes. That proved he handled quicker ground and the trainer has been very bullish in the build up to the race. Plenty to like about him although stamina is a slight question mark while stall 2 has never produced a Derby winner since stalls were introduced in 1967.
VERDICT – The sounds from Ballydoyle regarding Auguste Rodin really does make you sit up and take notice, especially from an eight-time winning trainer. It could be folly to take him on, but I am and with the Appleby stable not quite firing for Military Order and ground concerns for Arrest, I’m siding with the luckless PASSENGER to come good and provide Sir Michael Stoute with a seventh Derby success and back-to-back victories in the world’s greatest race.
Dubai Mile looks a nice each way price as he looks sure to run his race while Sprewell should also be competitive and maybe worth an each way interest at a double figure price.
*18+ | BeGambleAware