INVESTEC DERBY preview 2020

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Investec Derby – 4:55 Epsom Saturday 3rd July.


EMISSARY 33/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W (4 places, 1/5 odds)
HIGHLAND CHIEF 16/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W (4 places, 1/5 odds)
17 runners contest this years Derby and this year Aiden O’Brien has almost a third of the horses with 5 runners.
The question I am asking myself – is this a good renewal or not? When you look at some of the winners of the race I would have to say it does not look the greatest. Of course they are all improving so I could be wrong but from what I have seen to date, one or two to one side, I feel it is lacking in depth. 
We will go through the runners starting with the head of the market:
He is trained by Ed Walker and it would be great to see a smaller trainer win a race like this. English King is favourite on the back of his win at Lingfield last month. He beat Berkshire Rocco by three lengths that day which looks good form given that horse went and finished 2nd to Santiago at Royal Ascot. He cruised into the lead and virtually won the race on the bridle. You simply could not be impressed by what he done and the trial which he won, was the same trial that Anthony Van Dyck won last year, before going on to win the derby. Had Berkshire Rocco gone and won at Royal Ascot I would be more taken but he was easily put aside by Santiago so it is whether I think the 11/4 available, is value. He has only run 3 times so is lightly raced but has won two of his races. Frankie Dettori rides but weighing everything up, I think he is short enough so I will be taking him on.
The winner of the 2000 guineas at the start of June and won well. He drifted to the right in the final furlong so does not look completely straight forward which makes me question if he will be suited, to the ups and downs of Epsom. He obviously has all the class in the world as you don’t win the 2000 guineas if you are not classy. Kameko has won 3 of his 5 races to date all over 7f and 1m. He is up by 4f here and although on breeding he should just about get the trip, I wouldn’t have him down as a stayer and if it is run at a fast pace, I can see him struggling inside the last furlong. If they do crawl it will suit him as he has a turn of foot. Probably the right price on the back of his 2000 guineas win but now I have gone over the race in my head, I have real doubts about him getting home.
He looks to be the O’Brien Number one given that Ryan Moore has chosen to ride him but he is far too short for what he has achieved. The trip will be no problem as he is bred to want further but he was easily put aside at Royal Ascot, when well fancied and he will have to have improved a lot in just two weeks, if he is going to win this race. He was also beaten easily by Kameko last season so I see no reason why he is only 1 point bigger in the betting and he has his work cut out on what I have seen so far.
I was quite surprised that Ryan Moore opted for Mogul over Russian Emperor as he looked a horse who would love the step up in trip, after winning at Royal Ascot. He was off the bridle quite far out but done all his good work late in the race. Personally I don’t think he has the class for this race but does seem to have a lot of heart. He is having his 3rd run of the season so you would expect him to be a very fit horse coming into the race.
He was 2nd to Siskin in the Irish 2000 guineas 3 weeks ago and although i don’t think he had any chance of beating the winner, he did not have the clearest passage. He stuck on for 2nd with Lope Y Fernandez back in 3rd. The 3rd disappointed on his next start so I am not sure how strong the form is. He is up in trip by 4f and he is bred to want further but it is whether it is a step up too far, too early in his career with him only having 3 runs behind him. He has been subject to support the last few days and is now short enough in the market. Although I can see him running well, it is not enough to convince me to back him.
HIGHLAND CHIEF was a good winner at Royal Ascot and was also our biggest winner at the meeting. He is stepping up from Handicap Company so the question here – does he have the class for a race like this? I done some research and watched Pyledriver and Highland Chief, side by side from the 7f marker. Pyledriver was running in the group 2 King Edward VII Stakes over 1m 4f, on good to soft ground while Highland Chief, was running over 1m 2f in a 3 year old handicap on soft ground, carrying 9st 7lb (top weight). Anyway in the last 7f they virtually crossed the line together but Highland Chief was running on soft ground. The test has shown me that Highland Chief is up to at least group 2 company and could improve again, now stepped up in trip. The reason I say this is Highland Chief was virtually last coming around the bend and stayed on with a powering run up the straight. He looked every bit a stayer and a horse who would flourish over this sort of trip. He is available at 16/1 which could look a big price given he knows how to knuckle down a win races. The good thing about his race at Royal Ascot was the fact it was a messy race, similar to what the Derby can sometimes be, meaning he has the experience of how the race may be run. A decent price at 16/1 as although he may not be the classiest, he ticks a lot of boxes, including a big one if it does rain on Saturday.
He was a big priced winner at Royal Ascot but he got the run of the race and 2nd did not run well last week in the Irish Derby. This is a big ask to step up again to win this race and I can’t have him winning a derby unfortunately.
Ran well in 3rd at Royal Ascot and is sure to come on for the run. He didn’t really try a muscle at Royal Ascot and was clearly being trained with this race in mind. Whether he is able to step up again I guess we will find out but I have niggling doubt about that form in the Group 2 King Edward Stakes, of how strong the actual race was. On that basis I am happy to leave him out. 
Interesting that this horse is the only Khalid Abdullah runner. He would go down as the horse who on breeding could literally be anything and one who on breeding really opens my eyes. He is by Kingman who has been an amazing sire over the last two years but what caught my eye was his Dam, Soviet Moon. Those who dig deep enough and leave no stone unturned as I do, will know Soviet Moon is also the Dam of Workforce who actually won the Derby by 7 lengths in 2010 and the Arc. That actually makes EMISSARY a half brother to Workforce as Workforce is sired by Kings Best. Now I have asked myself the question if I had two horses in front of me both of which had not run before, who were by Kingman x Soviet Moon (EMISSARY), Kings Best x Soviet Moon (Workforce), I would choose the Kingman colt (EMISSARY). This makes the breeding look very strong and Emissary could literally be anything. He has only had two career starts, one as a two year old back last October when quickening up nicely to win by 2 lengths at Wolverhampton. He then ran 3 weeks ago at Goodwood in a Listed race and came home 2nd, beaten by a neck. He was sent off evens favourite that day so is obviously highly regarded. I thought he travelled supremely well throughout the race but got tired in the last furlong, still only going down by a neck. It was a run which strikes me as if they have left a lot of work in the horse ahead of the Derby and was being primed for one race only. He is a huge price at 33/1.
Of The Rest
I am happy to take on the rest of the field and have only listed horses who made my first shortlist before I narrowed it down further.
It all goes back to my original question, how hot is this race? I don’t think it is the greatest renewal if I am being honest. 
I have not seen enough of the favourite English King for me to want to be lumping him at 11/4. He did look a good horse when winning last time out but the price is far to skinny. 
If I had a choice between him and Kameko it would be Kameko given he is a proven group 1 horse but even then I am not totally convinced he will stay this trip, so I can’t go backing him at 4/1.
Mogul is another far too short on what we seen at Royal Ascot and you would be backing him at a short price, on the belief that he will improve massively in just two weeks. I would want around 10/1 if I was even to think about backing him.
Vatican City price has plummeted in the last few days and is up 4f from his last start. If they thought he was a true 1m 4f, surely he would have been campaigned over 1m 2f or even sent to Royal Ascot. I think he surprised a few in the 2000 guineas so they are now chancing him in the Derby.
Russian Emperor came off the bridle far too early at Royal Ascot and although he will improve for the step up in trip, the ship may sailed before he finds top gear.
Pyledriver won at Royal Ascot with Mohician Heights back in 3rd and Mogul back in 4th. Something tells me that form is a bit iffy and I can’t have this horse winning a Derby.
That leaves me with HIGHLAND CHIEF and EMISSARY both of whom are big prices.
HIGHLAND CHIEF is sure to be finishing fast as he did at Royal Ascot on soft ground. His form at Royal Ascot is not in the highest grade but when you watch that race against group races, side by side, it was a very good run. He is now stepped up in trip and further improvement should come. He also run in a similar style race at Royal Ascot and that experience can’t be taken away. I can see him sitting at the back of the field before unleashing a run down the wide outside, finishing his race out very strongly. He looks a horse who is suited to how this race is run and at 16/1 he is very good value. Any rain that might fall on Saturday will also be to his advantage.
EMISSARY is a tip based on breeding and with that breeding, I can’t not take a chance at 33/1. When you have a Dam who has bred a winner of the Derby and not only the Derby, the Arc also, you can’t simply discount it, especially not at the price. He is a horse trained by Hugo Palmer and even though he lost in a Listed race last time, I feel they left an awful to work on with the horse and it was always about one race, the Derby. When Soviet Moon went to Kingman, it was not to try and produce a handicapper, I am sure the conversation was already about the Derby before he was even born. It is a chance we take but I have seen enough in two runs from the horse which leads me to believe he could potentially be very good. He is a good mover with a lovely action and a decent temperament. With 4 places on offer and a horse who could be anything, I am happy to enjoy a nice price rather than lump something at the head of the market.
Good Luck

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