Advertisement

The Derby is wide open – and runners sired by past winners should attract punters

Los Angeles ridden by jockey Wayne Lordan en route to winning at the Derby Trials
Los Angeles, who came round the outside of the home turn in the Leopardstown Derby Trial, could end up being the horse punters come for on the day - Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA

Saturday’s Derby at Epsom looks like a throwback to the days when pretty much everyone lining up had a chance of victory. The big guns are in there, but not necessarily with their best horses in form, so the winner could easily be a big priced outsider.

The colt with the best recent form is Economics, who bolted up in the Dante Stakes at York, a race many believe to be the best Derby trial. However, his trainer William Haggas does not consider the horse to be suitable or mature enough for a mile-and-a-half around Epsom on the first Saturday in June. And whilst that is undoubtedly in the best interests of Economics’ career, it does leave the race tantalisingly wide open.

In spite of running an absolute shocker at Newmarket, former wunderkind City of Troy remains favourite. If he was trained by anyone other than Aidan O’Brien, he would have enormous odds. But O’Brien won the Derby last year with Auguste Rodin, who also blew out in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket but for different reasons.

Who knows whether he can bounce back on Saturday? Perhaps he was a very good two-year-old who has not physically progressed at three? Maybe he got upset in the stalls at Newmarket and can leave that incident behind him? We just will not know until about 4.35pm on Saturday.

But one should never write off O’Brien, who has other talent lining up for the race that most trainers would “die for”. Los Angeles, a big strong horse who came round the outside of the home turn in the Leopardstown Derby Trial looks like he has a lot of improvement in him. He could end up being the O’Brien horse the punters come for on the day.

So many horses who run in the Derby are subsequently exposed as non-stayers – in other words, they are at their most effective at distances short of a mile-and-a-half. But there is no fear of that happening with Los Angeles. His sire Camelot, had the speed to win the 2,000 Guineas in 2012, was sound enough to win the Derby and its Irish equivalent, and was doing his best work in the last furlong of the mile and three-quarters St Leger, the last Classic of the season.

Los Angeles won on very soft ground in France as a two-year-old, so a bucketload of rain before Saturday would not do his chances any harm.

Also by Camelot is outsider Deira Mile, trained by Owen Burrows and owned by Green Team Racing, who have gone close in the Derby before. Deira Mile’s win at Windsor would not normally be considered a Classic preparation, but Notable Speech, the winner of the 2,000 Guineas this year, was prepared with three runs on the all-weather track at Kempton this winter. That proves there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to horses winning Classics.

Deira Mile gave jockey Jim Crowley a good feel around Epsom’s helter-skelter Tattenham Corner in a gallop last Tuesday, demonstrating that he is sufficiently well balanced to handle the cambers of the track.

Another outsider by a Derby-winning sire is the Richard Hannon-trained Voyage, who is by the 2015 Derby winner Golden Horn. Voyage will come on a ton for his last victory at Newbury and could be the horse to land a first Classic for Golden Horn, who is breeding very structurally correct offspring.

There are good reasons to be attracted to runners sired by past winners. If a horse was sound enough to gallop round Epsom, come out of the race in one piece and progress to win other big races, they are going to sire sound horses.

Too many American horsemen and breeders have lost their way prioritising speed and beating the clock over soundness and stamina. Only last week a top American trainer reflected on the truth that the top horses in the United States now race only about six times a year because they are not physically robust enough to take a heavier workload.

More than ever, the attributes that a horse needs to win round Epsom come from genes that the thoroughbred needs to hold onto.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.