The Derby: Preview, trends and Owen’s 28-1 outsider tip

Masar wins the Derby under William Buick

The fourth classic of the season, the Derby is the most prestigious race in British flat racing. Raced over the 1m 4f distance, it’s a race that Aidan O’Brien has farmed in recent years. He’s won six of the last nine renewals and has just a sole representative in 2021, Bolshoi Ballet.

Can O’Brien take another Derby back to Ireland, or will the home team manage to win just their eighth Derby since 2000? If you want the inside scoop on the race, then look no further. From the key trends, to Owen’s 28-1 outsider tip, everything you need is right here!

The Derby Key Contenders

Bolshoi Ballet (Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien)

Sole representative from the yard that has won six of the last nine renewals of the Derby. Progressive as a juvenile but has taken his form to new heights this term, winning a pair of Group 3s, latterly the Derby Trial at Leopardstown in impressive fashion. That run arguably sets the form standard and given his pedigree, this new trip should eke out even more. He’s the deserving favourite and merits plenty of respect.

Mohaafeth (Jim Crowley, William Haggas)

Mohaafeth silk


Failed to win in a pair of juvenile starts but has exploded into life this year, winning three races on the spin. Breaking his maiden at Lingfield, he took a handicap on his way to a visually impressive Listed win at Newmarket last time. The RPR he produced puts him right into the argument and further improvement is more than plausible, especially up in distance. His yard has hit form at the perfect time and he’s an obvious player.

John Leeper (Frankie Dettori, Ed Dunlop) 

Well beaten on his juvenile debut at Doncaster but has improved dramatically since going up to ten furlongs this year. An impressive winner at Newcastle on return, he battled on gamely to land Listed honours at Newmarket on his most recent start. The bare form doesn’t pull up trees and plenty more is needed, but he’s beautifully bred and should be capable of far better; entitled to be involved.

Mac Swiney (Kevin Manning, Jim Bolger) 

Has plenty of experience to call upon, having won four of his eight career starts thus far. A Group 1 winner as a juvenile, he was well-held behind Bolshoi Ballet on return at Leopardstown. He bettered that, however, when landing the Irish 2000 Guineas just two weeks later. Any rain is certainly in his favour and he has serious potential at the trip given his pedigree; each-way claims.

Hurricane Lane (William Buick, Charlie Appleby) 

Represents 2018’s winning connections and he arrives having won all three of his starts to date. Upped into group company for the first time in the Dante, he rallied gamely in the closing stages to score and should be well suited by this step up in trip. He’s not far away on bare form and is ground versatile, so he has to enter each-way calculations.

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The Derby Trends

  • 9/10 – Drawn in Stall 7 or higher
  • 7/10 – Rated 110 or higher
  • 6/10 – Won by Aidan O’Brien
  • 3/10 – Sent off favourite
  • 3/10 – Sent off at 10-1 or bigger
  • 1/10 – Previous Group 1 winner

Although favourites don’t have the best record in the race, the trends horse would be the the market leader Bolshoi Ballet. Drawn in stall nine, he’s rated 117 for Aidan O’Brien and his biggest win thus far was at Group 3 level.

Owen’s 28-1 outsider tip

He’s not bred to stay 1m 4f, but the only horse at a bigger price that excites me for the Derby is ONE RULER (28-1). He draw parallels with Masar for the same connections, as that horse was a progressive juvenile who ran well in the 2000 Guineas. Masar was favourite for his Guineas bid and despite finishing a close third, he went off at 16-1 for the Derby, and we all know how that went.

One Ruler was making his reappearance in the 2000 Guineas and he ran a screamer to finish sixth. The ground was certainly quick enough for him that day and he was entitled to have needed the run, so it can be heavily upgraded in my eyes.

As previously mentioned, he’s not bred to stay, but the positive signs are there. The heavy rain on Friday is hugely in his favour, given his career-best effort thus far came on heavy behind Mac Swiney in the Vertem Futurity. He fits plenty in terms of trends and with the yard in white-hot form, he’s my outsider pick for this year’s feature race.

Check out the myracing experts’ Royal Ascot tips and don’t forget to check out the latest Ascot free bets and offers to get a headstart on your festival punting.

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