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The Investec Derby: Guide to the leading contenders

28 May 2018

Who will win the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday? We analyse the principal players.

Saxon Warrior

Saxon Warrior will put his unbeaten record on the line in the Derby.

Who will win the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturdayvuusetatztdtyscqatdxdxsxuavv (4.30pm)? Fourteen horses remain in the mix and here’s our guide to all the leading contenders for the £1.5 million Classic. The final entries will be revealed on Thursday morning.

SAXON WARRIOR

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. General odds: 5-6

Flawless in four starts, signing off last year with victory in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and beginning this term with a decisive win in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Bred to relish stepping up in distance and sets bar high for the opposition, with more improvement on cards.

ROARING LION

Trainer: John Gosden. Odds: 6-1.

Won the Royal Lodge last autumn before making Saxon Warrior pull out all the stops in the Racing Post Trophy. No match for that rival when fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas but impressive when wide-margin winner of the Dante Stakes at York latest. Pedigree lends encouragement to him staying the trip.

YOUNG RASCAL

Trainer: William Haggas. Odds: 12-1.

Plenty to like the way he overcame traffic problems to win the Chester Vase with bit to spare latest, having previously looked good in big-field maiden at Newbury. Others have more persuasive form claims but he is on an upward curve and proven ability over the trip has to be a positive. Unproven on fast ground.

DELANO ROOSEVELT

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. Odds: 14-1.

Has suffered four successive defeats since winning on his debut as a two-year-old, but he has looked to be learning on the job and again shaped as if having more to offer when runner-up to Hazapour in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time. Step up to a mile and a half should suit.

MASAR

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Odds: 14-1.

Pick of his two-year-old efforts was when landing the Solario Stakes at Sandown and routed rivals in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April. Started favourite for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and gave it a good shot, finishing length and a half third to Saxon Warrior. No easy task turning the tables but pedigree gives him fair claims of getting trip.

HAZAPOUR

Trainer: Dermot Weld. Odds: 16-1.

His uncle, Harzand, won the Derby in 2016 and he thrust himself into the Epsom picture with victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time. The extra couple of furlongs pose a question mark but he’s a colt on the up and two-time Derby winner Frankie Dettori has been snapped up for the ride.

KNIGHT TO BEHOLD

Trainer: Harry Dunlop. Odds: 16-1.

Green and immature when showing ability as a two-year-old, but the son of Sea The Stars looked much more the finished article when making most of the running in the Lingfield Derby Trial on his latest start. Had the opposition well strung out that day and proven ability to stay the trip has to be a positive.

THE PENTAGON

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. General odds: 20-1.

Was a keeping-on third behind Saxon Warrior and The Pentagon in the Racing Post Trophy, and left reappearance running behind him when a close third to Hazapour in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time. Bit to find on the book but should be more to come stepping up to a mile and a half.

DEE EX BEE

Trainer: Mark Johnston. General odds: 33-1.

His two wins as a juvenile included a success at Epsom and again looked at home on the track when a staying-on third in the Derby Trial in April. Ran another solid race when half a length runner-up to Young Rascal in the Chester Vase but seems likely to find few too good.

SEVENNA STAR

Trainer: John Gosden. General odds: 33-1.

Runaway winner of minor Windsor event in April before scrambling home by a short head in the Classic Trial at Sandown. First four home there finished in a bunch and likely to require plenty more.

STUDY OF MAN

Trainer: Pascal Bary. General odds: 33-1.

Showed a pleasing turn of foot to put three rivals in their place in a steadily-run Group 2 contest at Saint-Cloud last time, but his previous defeat at the hands of Chilean (subsequently fourth in the Classic Trial at Sandown) suggests the French challenger is up against it.

KEW GARDENS

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien. General odds: 40-1.

Pick of his efforts as a two-year-old when an emphatic winner of the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket (Dee Ex Bee was second). Only third in the Feilden Stakes on his return, though, and could not get to grips with Knight To Behold at Lingfield last time, albeit when losing a shoe in-running.

Best of the rest: Rostropovich, taking winner of the Dee Stakes, would be another Aidan O’Brien contender but the French Derby is said to be his objective. Nelson, another O’Brien colt, blotted his copybook at Leopardstown last time but his form before that has a solid look.

Conclusion: The unbeaten Saxon Warrior had Masar (runaway winner of the Craven Stakes before) and Roaring Lion (fluent winner of the Dante since) adrift when winning the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and, bred to be even more effective over middle distances, deserves to be a short-priced favourite. This is no one-horse race, though, and the first three home in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown are among the each-way alternatives.