Best Bets for the Oaks and Derby

By | 9th May 2018

The British Classics soon come around in the early stages of the flat season in horse racing, with the Oaks and Derby being the two races that have a little bit of added prestige about them compared to the other leading three-year-old races during the year. For a horse to win either the Oaks or Derby at Epsom, they require stamina, a touch of class and need to be able to handle what is one of the most unique racecourses in the world. The undulations on the track in Surrey have caught many horses out over the years.

Wild Illusion Can Give Godolphin Another Oaks Success

Leading ownership operation Godolphin are bidding for their fourth Oaks victory in the last 25 years at Epsom this year with World Illusion who appears to be their leading hope of coming out on top in the 1m4f contest. Wild Illusion has had just the three runs so far in her career. She made her debut at Yarmouth last August, where she wasted no time getting off to a winning start. The daughter of Dubawi made all and stayed on strongly in the 1m race, which featured seven runners to suggest she will improve further for a step up in trip.

Trainer Charlie Appleby clearly thought a lot of his filly last year as he took her across to France on just her second start for the Group Three Prix d’Aumale. Wild Illusion looked a little green at Chantilly and had to settle for third place of the five runners. The filly returned to the French track a month later to prevail in the Total Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches. That victory meant she rose up to 114 in the official horse racing ratings at the end of 2017. As of 27th April, Wild Illusion can be backed at 16/1 with Betway to win the Investec Oaks which looks to be a good bit of value against the Aidan O’Brien runners Happily and September at the top end of the betting. The filly does have an entry in the 1000 Guineas and Irish 1000 Guineas but her breeding indicates we could see the best of her when she does run at 1m4f.

Nelson May Prove Ballydoyle’s Best Hope in Derby

Irish Champion Trainer O’Brien has won the Derby four times in the last six years as every season he appears to have a number of well-bred colts who so often go on to dominate the middle distance division in the UK and Ireland. Twelve months ago, O’Brien prevailed in the Derby with Wings of Eagles who returned at 40/1 in the betting. The three-year-old was not his number one hope in the race but it shows how much depth there is in his yard. Although the Derby betting is currently headed by fantastically named Saxon Warrior, who is the 3/1 favourite in the ante-post betting, it may be another O’Brien runner in the form of Nelson who takes the prize at Epsom.

Nelson has won three of his six racecourse starts and importantly he looked to be improving with each run. The son of Frankel broke his maiden at the third attempt at Leopardstown last August in a six-runner field where he scored by just over three lengths. A month later O’Brien’s stepped up to Gr, oup company to cause a little bit of a surprise, beating stablemate Delano Roosevelt in the Juvenile Stakes. The Irish horse stayed on really strongly inside the final couple of furlongs of the 1m contest in an impressive display.

Nelson has already had one run so far this season where he scored in the Group Three Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown. There were only four runners in that race, three of which were O’Brien horses. It was Nelson who adapted best the heavy conditions in the 1m2f race, another positive sign for those looking to back him for Epsom. The top of the market is dominated by O’Brien runners and this horse and show enough in his six racecourse starts to suggest he is a strong contender and should not be underestimated.

This year’s Derby takes place on June 2 in what will be the 239th running of the British Classic at Epsom.