Rory Delargy: Heed The Draw And Oppose Derby Jolly At Early Odds

5 min



John Gosden’s Court House is arguably the class act here, having finished second at Newmarket last time, but that was a small-field affair on quick ground, and the assessor has clobbered him. Ten horses have carried a similar burden over the past decade, with only one making the frame.

For all we’re told that class tells in handicaps, keeping your powder dry matters more, and Court House will struggle to concede lumps of weight to his rivals.

Recommended: Lay Court House for a place @ 2.5 or shorter


I’d be happy enough to make Lincoln Rocks favourite, so I’ll not oppose her at a fair price, and although Shenanigans is a trifle shorter than her form deserves, the angle in opposing her is not a hugely attractive one in what is a fairly weak race for the grade.

Recommended: No Bet


There are negatives about quite a few of the runners here, which makes it difficult to pick one in particular to oppose.

Breton Rock is probably the weakest of the market leaders despite Ryan Moore’s presence, as he simply doesn’t stay an extended mile, and although he won the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last year, he was probably below his best more often than not in 2017, and it may be significant that he’s trying Epsom for the first time at the age of eight.

Recommended: Lay Breton Rock for a place @ 2.9 or shorter


The market for the Dash looks worryingly like my tissue, and with the ground drying out a little, I wouldn’t be confident of laying anything purely on that basis. Caspian Prince wants the ground a bit quicker and is hung out in stall 2, but he won from the wides draw last year and is looking for a fourth success in this unique race, so I’d certainly not recommend taking him on.

Recommended: No Bet


The draw is the key to playing the Derby, and while I think Saxon Warrior is much the best of these, that effectively translates to a price around even money given the unknowns on show regarding stamina and track which could bring the field together. Once he was handed the inside berth, his task got significantly harder, and yet his price has moved only a little in comparison on the exchange. In 54 races with double-figure fields over the Derby course and distance in recent years, the lowest stall has never produced the winner, and only nine of the 54 were placed, which are remarkable stats. Such stats don’t preclude victory by any means, but they do suggest that Saxon Warrior has another significant factor to overcome, and that should see a correspondingly bigger price.

I can’t stress enough that I would probably be a backer of the favourite if the market reacted in line with the statistics, as I’ve always been convinced that he would be suited by this test, but I must do what discipline teaches me and oppose him at his current odds. Again, I must stress that he isn’t put up as a lay because I feel he can’t win, but because his price does not fully factor in important information.

If you want to wait until a possible market correction before backing him, that is a perfectly valid approach.

Recommended: Lay Saxon Warrior @ 2.0 or shorter

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