File:2014 Epsom Derby.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Australia (white cap) rounds Tattenham Corner@Wikimedia Commons

Who’s Going To Win The Derby 2021 by Hector Steiff

The Derby. The most most valuable race in the British flat calendar and the most highly regarded of the five Classics. Run on the first Saturday in June, and open to three year old colts and fillies, it is invariably the colts who contest for this blue riband contest with the fillies defaulting to The Oaks, run on the Friday.

Featuring at Epsom since 1780, is the ultimate test of a horse in their classic season. The sharp undulations of the track, the switch and the run into Tattenham corner make for the stiffest test any horse will face. The dream of every owner, trainer, jockey and stable lad is to be on the side of the Derby winner.

The home team are well represented in what promises to be a red hot renewal of this year’s Derby. Frankel, a son of Galileo himself, is the sire of three of the main English hopes, in John Leeper, Mohaafeth and Hurricane Lane.

John Leeper has a fantastic pedigree being out of Oaks winner Snow Fairy so the stamina for this test looks to be assured. Despite running far too keenly in the Fairway Stakes at Newmarket last time out, John Leeper still had too much class for the field in that Listed contest. If he settles better this time around, which is essential on the up and downs of Epsom, he should be in the mix.

Should the ground turn quicker on Saturday, William Haggas’s Mohaafeth could benefit. Though his form from the Listed Newmarket Stakes does not look the strongest on offer it was a comfortable win and with Jim Crowley in the driver’s seat has to enter calculations.

The best three trials for the Derby on these shores have to be the Lingfield Derby Trail, the Dante at York and the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood. Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane lane took the Dante Stakes in commanding style, giving the impression that the extra trip should be well within his range and could well be under the radar in the betting markets.

Third Realm was a surprise winner of the Lingfield trial but showed that he coped with the sharp downhill run to the final straight there, so, because this race is usually the best of the three in terms of replicating the demands of Epsom, gets put on the shortlist. That race was run on softer ground but he does have winning form on a quicker surface, and is another that should give a good account of himself.

The Grand Stand and Tattenham picnic... © Nick Smith :: Geograph Britain  and Ireland
The Home Straight: Nick Smith@Geograph

Aidan O’Brien has won this race an astonishing eight times since his first success with supersire Galileo, twenty years ago. It’s the progeny of that great stallion that now head the ante-post market with Bolshoi Ballet looking to extend the formidable record of Aidan O’Brien in the biggest race of them all. He has a plethora of choices for this race but the one that most appeals is Bolshoi Ballet.

The tried and tested route that Aidan O’Brien has followed is the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Stakes. Bolshoi Ballet has taken this route and on the quicker ground he found in the Derrinstown should find conditions to his liking on Saturday.

Stablemate, and half brother High Definition headed the ante-post markets through the winter until being supplanted by Bolshoi Ballet after the Ballysax/Derrintown double. A setback ruled him out of the planned run in the Derby Trial at Lingfield so he instead made an appearance in the Dante at York, finishing third and all the way looking in need of that run. High Definition now heads to the Irish Derby to leave Aidan O’Brien with just one runner, Bolshoi Ballet, who will start as a short priced favourite.

There is further Irish interest in Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas ahead his stablemate Poetic Flare, who’d won the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The trainer had meant to keep them apart and may have had reason to think that Mac Swiney was more of a Derby horse. Saturday will answer that question but the concern has to be the quicker surface as most of Mac Swiney’s best form is on soft to heavy ground.

It looks from the best of the form going into this year’s Derby that Hurricane Lane and John Leeper will provide the best home challenge, while Irish hopes lie with Bolshoi Ballet in a fascinating renewal. William Haggas’s Mohaafeth could well be the surprise package to split these three and is noted.

Who’s going to win the 2021 Derby? Bolshoi Ballet.

This Preview has been brought to you by our regular correspondent, Hector Steiff

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