Where my contrarian money is going in the Derby....

Last Updated: 03.06.2016

Friday, 3rd June 2016

Good morning, contrarians,

On the menu today….

  • Expect a bit of chaos and mayhem….
  • Where the Tricast Indicator points….
  • Get a big 8s about the jolly hitting the frame….
  • Where my contrarian money is going….

Expect a bit of chaos and mayhem….

A field of 16 runners goes to post for tomorrow afternoon’s Derby Stakes at Epsom (4.30)….

One thing you can expect is plenty of carnage and mayhem in-running. The horses are young. Most are very inexperienced. The track unbalances horses. And most of the jockeys are going to want to be in the same place at the same time.

Jostling, buffeting, collisions, blocking and interference are going to be the order of the day. The upshot is that luck-in-running – something you can’t legislate for in pre-race deliberations – is sure to play its part.

It only adds to the wide-open nature of a Derby renewal in which only a single horse – US Army Ranger – turns out with an unbeaten record.

The going is good to soft (soft in places) this morning. A dry day is forecast. But there is a chance of showers tomorrow. This morning the Clerk of the course said he anticipates the race being run on ground which is slightly on the easy side of good. That should be okay for most of the participants….

We’ll get on to my contrarian selections – my idea of where the value lies – in a moment.

First, there’s no harm in having a Hollywood bet. A Combination Tricast offers a tilt at a potentially big prize for a low downside investment. I play for fun….

Where the Tricast Indicator points….

Our Indicator tool expresses an assortment of opinions. It highlights which horses rank as ‘win’ and ‘place’ finishers on a series of scales relating to ratings, strike-rates and other measures.

Multiple horses in tomorrow’s Derby ‘win’ (yellow) or ‘place’ (blue) on at least one opinion scale. But some score better than others. Taken as a whole, the data predicts the following horses will fill the first 3 spaces home….

  • Wings of Desire
  • Deauville
  • Massaat

Find out more about Combination Tricast bets….


Get a big 8s about the jolly hitting the frame….

Frankie Dettori and John Gosden combined to win last season’s Derby with Golden Horn. The vibes are that their representative this time round, Wings Of Desire, is not quite of the same stamp but, having won the Dante and in the absence of an obvious superstar in waiting, he tops the market this morning.

Given the open nature of the race I wouldn’t even contemplate backing him at 9/2. For me the short horses have to be taken on in an open race of this nature where anything in the field is maturing quickly and open to mounds of progression owing to the step-up in trip.

But that’s just me. I’m a contrarian value-hunter. That’s the way I play. And if you fancy backing the ante-post favourite, I won’t be the one to advise you not to.

The upside is that the bookies are fighting like ferrets in a sack for your business – and there are some nice offers on the table as a result….

If you’re going to back Wings Of Desire then you might want to take steps to get the big 8s Coral are offering about the horse hitting the frame….

You’ll need to open a new account to qualify for the enhanced price. You can only get on to the tune of £5.00 and winnings are paid out as free bets. But value is value – whatever way you look at it – and, if you want it, the opportunity is there. Plus: you get a free £5.00 bet if Wings Of Desire fails to place….

Get the enhanced price about Wings Of Desire here….*

* You will be able to claim the Wings of Desire offer on the above link after 16:31 this afternoon

Where my contrarian money is going….

If Galileo Gold, winner of the 2000 Guineas, were lining up for tomorrow’s race, I reckon he’d be favourite. If not favourite then he wouldn’t be far off….

So there’s a case for saying that there’s a bit of value in the 16s available about MASSAAT, the horse he beat 1.25 lengths into 2nd at Newmarket that afternoon.

That’s the best bit of form any horse in tomorrow’s field brings into the race. And let’s not forget that there’s a school of thought – that persists across the years – that the 2000 Guineas is the best Derby trial of them all.  
The doubts surround Massaat’s ability to stay the 12f trip. He’s yet to go further than 8f. Nobody knows if he will get home. It’s one of those issues that will be settled in the trying.

But there is cause for enthusiasm – albeit of the tempered variety. His sire, Teofilo has sired winners of both the Irish Derby and Irish St Leger. His dam’s dam won over 13f – but whether those stamina attributes have filtered down the generations is a fair way short of a given.

The consensus view is that 10f will be his trip. But nobody knows that for sure either and I am not one to let the consensus view go off unopposed.

I think a comment made by Barry Hills to the horse’s trainer (who has had less than 30 runners on the track in his career to date) sums it up best. After the 2000 Guineas he told Owen Burrows that plenty of good mile and a quarter horses have won the Derby….

In a big field there will be pace on and Massaat has his share of that particular attribute. He’ll be able to get a good position and if he can hold it and kick on in the straight he could take the catching.

There’s an element of if, but and maybe at work here. But it’s that kind of race. The bottom line is that just one horse – a very good one – beat this fellow in the G1 2000 Guineas and Massaat wasn’t stopping at the end. If anything he was closing.

He’s the best-rated horse in the race on official figures, connections have swerved the French Derby run over 10f to take their chance here and I’m going to take my chance at the prices. He’s a very good horse at a big each-way price.

Deauville has been on my mind for a couple of days. At York he ran a big race on what was his seasonal debut and Wings Of Desire certainly had a fitness edge on him having raced twice already this term.

The O’Brien horse will have learnt much, he will come on for it and he will stay. There’s a lot going for him at 10s – even if Ryan Moore has opted for stable mate US Army Ranger. And, I must confess, I’ve agonized over it.

But I am price-oriented. I walk the path untrodden by the wider market and on that basis I am letting Deauville run without my money and backing ACROSS THE STARS each-way at a big 33s.

I wrote in this column earlier this week that few jockeys ride Epsom quite like Mr. Fallon who takes the ride. And that experience will come in very handy tomorrow in what promises to be a rough-and-tumble affair.

Fallon knows exactly where to put a horse in this race and earlier this week he was making some confident noises that undermine the big price about his mount. He feels this son of Derby-winning Sea The Stars is a genuine Derby type and the horse has been giving him a good feel.

Call me an old romantic but I reckon Fallon will be well-up for this job. I think he’s on a better horse than the market believes. And I can’t let it go off unbacked. So there you have it.

The Contrarian Bet Box….

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

In the Derby Stakes (4.30)....

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – MASSAAT each-way (16s generally) & ACROSS THE STARS each-way (33s 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.


That’s all from me for now. I’ll be back in your inbox a little later today with ATC Extra. We’ll be targeting the prices in tomorrow’s big handicap – the Dash over the fast 5f strip. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd