The contrarian word on Derby day at Epsom....

Last Updated: 01.06.2018

Friday, 1st June 2018

The contrarian word on Derby day at Epsom….

They thought plenty of EQUIMOU at Robert Eddery’s yard last term....

So much so, she was given an entry in the G1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and was rated 103 this time last year....

She didn’t take up that Ascot assignment, but she did come into her own on ground with cut towards the back end of the season and connections expressed the view that she would make up into a nice 4yo this season....

On debut this term she was tried in G3 company in the Palace House Stakes. It wasn’t the strongest renewal – but she produced a good run to finish 4th and beaten just over a length – in and around horses rated in the low to mid-100s....

Tomorrow, with that run under her belt and I would assume all the sharper for it, she steps back to handicap level in the Investec Corporate Banking Dash at Epsom (3.45)

She races off a mark of 100 and she can prove dangerous at 16s on the prevailing ground at the track....

  • Two-against-the-field....

I want to be two-against-the-field at prices in this one and my second selection is Robert Cowell’s BLUE DE VEGA at 16s – still very lightly-raced for a 5yo....

This one was a serial representative in pattern races when with Michael O’Callaghan in Ireland. At his peak he was rated as high as 110....

The form dropped off after that and he was switched to the care of Robert Cowell – a consistent exponent in getting sprinters back to form....

He’s had the horse for 6 runs and the latest signs are that Cowell is working the magic again. The Wokingham and the Stewards Cup have been suggested as viable targets this term – a signal that Cowell not only believes but is brimming with expectation.

In the meantime, he dropped the horse to 5f. It takes time to adjust to the racing at the minimum trip. The horse has had a few goes at it and things are starting to click.

The last-time-out performance at Thirsk was the best for a long time and the suggestion is that this classy horse could now be ready to get closer to old heights off tomorrow’s mark of 98....

No doubt he’ll come late and need things to open-up and go his way. But he’s a nice price about a classy horse whose back on the trial. He strikes as one to follow this term – however it pans out tomorrow.

  • Going big in the Derby....

In the Derby at 4.30 Aidan O’Brien’s ZABRISKIE is well worth chancing each-way at a general 66s. He looks over-priced to me....

He’s the rag in the market, the apparent 5th string runner for his trainer and he’s only won one of his 5 races to date. So he doesn’t have the traditional Derby profile....

But against all that I measure the fact that O’Brien has always felt this horse is a Derby horse. And, if anybody should know, O’Brien should. He’s won enough of them....

This son of Frankel was a decent-enough third behind Roaring Lion in the Dante at York. And I expect him to improve considerably for the extra yardage at Epsom. He looked a 12f horse at York and his half-brother Bago won an Arc over 12f – so the expectation is reasonable....

He’s certainly got plenty of the right credentials in his pedigree. He’s just about the best-bred horse in the race in terms of his direct antecedents – and O’Brien reports that his horse is improving....

That last factor is the key consideration for me. He’s showing the right signs at home just ahead of the big assignment. He could turn up a different horse than we’ve seen to date....

He handled the track okay when running below par – and probably not quite at the game – over 10f in April. And with trip and ground likely to play to his strengths, he can outrun his price by a distance – as so many O’Brien trained horses have done in this race down the years....

This is an out-and-out value pick. I just think he’s too big at the price. He’s got plenty to beat and plenty to do. But I think his price underplays how smart he could turn out to be at the longer trip....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Investec Corporate Banking Dash (3.45 @ Epsom).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – EQUIMOU (16s generally) & BLUE DE VEGA (16s generally)

In the Derby Stakes (4.30 @ Epsom).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – ZABRISKIE each-way (66s generally)

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for now.

I’ll be back in your inbox a little later today with ATC Extra....

Win, lose or draw – enjoy the racing this weekend....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd