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2018 Epsom Derby tips - The expert guide to Saturday’s showpiece

A wonderful view of last year's Epsom Derby.

Our expert looks through the betting for the 2018 Epsom Derby and provides readers with his tips.
Derby day is almost upon us and the final field has been confirmed for the 2018 renewal of flat racings most famous race. Some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport have travelled to Epsom and enforced their reputations with a magnificent victory on the hallowed Epsom Downs turf.

Leading the race for the trophy this year is Aidan O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior (8/11 Paddy Power), who’s on-course to become the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970, after powering to victory in the 2000 Guineas.

I, like several experts, worried the one mile trip at Newmarket may be a little sharp for a horse who, by all accounts, had developed into a monster over the winter. Donnacha O’Brien positioned his mount perfectly behind the pacesetters and when he asked Saxon Warrior for an effort, the unbeaten colt motored through the gears in effortless fashion to score a superb victory.

Roaring Lion (7/1 Ladbrokes) has twice been beaten by Saxon Warrior. First, in the Racing Post Trophy at the end of their juvenile campaign, and again at Newmarket, where John Gosden’s charge ran on well for fifth. Many thought the step up in trip in the Dante would suit and Roaring Lion put on a sparkling display, demolishing a decent field by a comfortable distance to enhance his Derby credentials.

Young Rascal (10/1 William Hill) continued his steep path of progression with a good victory in the Chester Vase, beating Dee Ex Bee (28/1 Paddy Power) by half-a-length. William Haggas and James Doyle have proved a potent partnership this season and Young Rascal certainly looks progressive. The fact Wings Of Eagles also took in the Vase before winning the Derby 12 months ago may be a factor behind Young Rascal’s short price, as I’m not quite sure how strong that race actually was.

Delano Roosevelt (12/1 William Hill) and The Pentagon (25/1 Ladbrokes) were surprisingly upstaged by Hazapour (10/1 Paddy Power) in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, where Dermot Weld’s charge put his Ballydoyle rivals to the sword with a convincing victory on his reappearance. Frankie Dettori will carry the colours of the Aga Khan into the Derby and, if he comes on from that Group Three victory, he could ruffle the feathers of the market leaders.

Saxon Warrior (right) finishes ahead of Masar (left) in the 2000 Guineas.

Kew Gardens (40/1 Ladbrokes) was the name on most tipster’s lips heading into the Lingfield Derby Trial, but it was Knight To Behold (16/1 William Hill) who hogged the headlines. Richard Kingscote couldn’t restrain his fast-starting mount, but the pair comfortably held O’Brien’s favourite at bay, even drawing clear in the closing stages to win by over three lengths.

During my tip for the 2000 Guineas, I stated Saxon Warrior would be my choice in the Derby and it’s very hard to look past the market leader. Although his breeding doesn’t necessarily point towards staying, the way he travels through his races gives you confidence he will stay a mile-and-a-half quite comfortably and he could simply be too strong for his rivals.

However, with the favourite offering little value at the head of the betting and there are several each-way contenders who hold appeal. Knight To Behold has done very little wrong and I think there’s more to come from the consistent Delano Roosevelt, but the horse I’m going to back in the Derby is MASAR (20/1 William Hill).

After a dismal effort out in Dubai, Charlie Appleby’s colt tackled Roaring Lion in the Craven Stakes on his return to British soil. William Buick stole a march on his rivals in the first half of the Craven and Masar never looked back, powering to a superb nine length victory. 

The Godolphin flag-bearer was backed into favouritism for the Guineas following that demolition. Although he could only finish third at Newmarket, Appleby’s colt lived up to his star billing with a very encouraging display, running through the line well to finish less than two lengths behind Saxon Warrior in third.

Masar is a big-time performer, with plenty of experience and comes into Epsom on the back of a strong showing in, arguably, the best Derby trial. His sire, New Approach won the Derby in 2008 and dam, Khawlah won Grouped races out in Meydan over trips further than a mile, so there’s no reason to say he won’t see out the Derby distance.

The prospect of soft ground has caused Masar’s odds to drift. Despite the fact he ran nicely on juicy ground behind Happily in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last season and his sire secured several high profile wins on ground with plenty of give. 

I fully expect Saxon Warrior to win, but Masar could be the best each-way prospect in this year’s Epsom Derby.

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2018 Epsom Derby tips - The expert guide to Saturday’s showpiece

Our expert looks through the betting for the 2018 Epsom Derby and provides readers with his tips for Saturday 2nd June.

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