Epsom Derby 2021 Betting Tips, Odds & Analysis

Epsom Derby 2021 Betting Tips, Odds & Analysis
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The 2021 Cazoo Epsom Derby is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Aidan O’Brien is rocking up at Epsom with a son of Galileo who bolted up in a key trial, and it looks like Ryan Moore is going to ride him.

Not so fast. This is the Derby and, if recent editions have taught us anything, it’s that this hugely important race has a habit of bowling us a curveball.

The primary reason for that is the unique nature of the racecourse. Many a big name has had his Derby dreams dashed because they didn’t handle the camber and those that don’t can often roll across rivals making headway towards the inside rail. There is a randomness to this race, especially in a big field, that you just don’t get in other big races.

2021 Epsom Derby Betting Odds

Bolshoi Ballet11/8
High Definition6/1
Mac Swiney7/1
John Leeper9/1
Hurricane Lane10/1
Third Realm12/1

Then there is the draw. We all know now that a low draw (1-3) is a major hinderance on a horse’s chance in the Derby because the field tend to move to the outside of the course after a furlong or so in order to negotiate a right-hand turn. Don’t forget, no horse has won the Derby from stall 1 this century.

As things stand, it’s not at all difficult to see why Bolshoi Ballet is a warm order in Cazoo Derby betting lists to give his record-breaking trainer a remarkable ninth success in the famous race.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that Aidan O’Brien’s last three winners of the race were priced 25/1, 13/2 and 40/1. Even the 13/2 chance, Anthony Van Dyck in 2019, was only third best of the O’Brien chances on the day.

There is no doubt that Bolshoi Ballet is a colt on an upward curve and he heads to Epsom on the back of a career-best effort in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

The impressive change of gear he showed to clear away from his rivals approaching the two-pole is something we have yet to see from any of his fellow Derby contenders but I can’t be the only to remain unconvinced by the strength of that form.

I can’t be, because if we were all taking that performance at face value, Bolshoi Ballet would be Evens for the Derby, not 11/8 with Bet365.

You can argue that Mac Swiney’s subsequent Irish Guineas success proves that the Derrinstown was a good race but Jim Bolger’s charge clearly operated well below his best at Leopardstown (reportedly had a slight nasal discharge) and was a different horse completely in the Guineas. Taipan is the only other horse from the Derrinstown to come out since but he was beaten over six lengths in a Curragh Group 3.

Derrinstown runner-up Lough Derg is entered in a Listed race at the Curragh next, which tells us that connections don’t have particularly high hopes for him.

Long time ante-post favourite Bolshoi Ballet is up against much better rivals on a completely different track and I think this race is a good deal more open than the betting suggests.

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Likely Lads from Ireland

Mac Swiney could be the one and it would be folly to ignore him and his ultra-shrewd trainer. I just don’t see enough evidence on the dam’s side of his racing pedigree to convince me that he will truly stay a mile-and-a-half.

It’s easy to see High Definition taking a big step forward from his Dante defeat to Hurricane Lane but he’ll need to because only one horse has been beaten in the Dante and gone on to win at Epsom, Workforce in 2010.

Not many will have tried, to be fair, and High Definition looks for all the world like he will improve significantly for the extra two furlongs while it’s worth remembering that both the horses in front of him at York had race-fitness on their side.

Drying ground is an issue for Van Gogh, although he will absolutely relish the step up in trip. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he reverses Irish Guineas form with Mac Swiney because of the two, I think he’s the one with greater scope for improvement over a mile-and-a-half. However, Van Gogh ideally needs some cut in the ground though, and it’s looking increasingly like he won’t get that.

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Home Challenge not to be Underestimated

The story horse of the race is undoubtedly John Leeper, named after his trainer’s father, John Dunlop.

John Leeper is bred to be a champion being by Frankel and out of dual Oaks-winning filly Snow Fairy, and he heads to Epsom with a real ‘dark horse’ feel about him. He booked his ticket for Epsom by winning a Listed race at Newmarket despite doing a good deal wrong in the race.

A one and three-quarter length victory in Listed company isn’t the sort of performance that is going to give Aidan O’Brien sleepless nights but it would be folly to underestimate a horse with such huge potential and the fact that he’s a single figure price suggests he’s getting the respect he deserves.

It’s a horse that is similarly priced to John Leeper that I’m attracted to the most.

Mohaafeth hasn’t even dipped his toe into Group company as yet but there is no doubt that he’s a colt going places and it was impossible not to be impressed by his demolition job in a small-field Listed race at Newmarket.

Mohaafeth absolutely destroyed a 107-rated rival in Secret Protector without being asked any sort of question by Jim Crowley and although this horse hasn’t been campaigned like he’s a superstar, he certainly looked one on the Rowley Mile.

Currently, Mohaafeth is rated 6lb shy of Bolshoi Ballet by the official assessor but the son of Frankel is an extremely difficult horse to rate accurately on the back of that latest win. The way he handled the dip at Newmarket suggests he’s a very well-balanced colt that will have no problem with the demands of Epsom and I just think there is more juice in his overall profile, at around the 8/1 mark with Ladbrokes, than the race favourite.

It would be most fitting if the famous blue and white silks of the late Hamdan Al Maktoum could be carried to victory in the year of his passing and in Mohaafeth, there is a realistic chance of that happening.

One other contender that stands out to me as being overpriced and worth a small interest is Youth Spirit who is as big as 33/1 with Betway despite winning one of the key trials. If a horse can win around the tight turns of Chester then that undoubtedly increases its chances of being fully effective at Epsom and we know this horse stays a mile-and-a-half.

That Chester Vase form isn’t very strong and third-placed Fancy Man has subsequently been beaten further by John Leeper at Newmarket, but the same connections hit the frame with a 50/1 chance 12 months ago and I can see Youth Spirit staying on when others have cried enough.

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