Derby Day racing tips: Dave Nevison's best bets for Epsom

By Dave Nevison@nevisondave
Sat 3 Jun 2023

Dave Nevison has five fancies at Epsom on Saturday, including one who he is keeping the faith with in the Betfred Derby. Our betting expert will also be seeking a share of the £25,000 up for grabs in the Paddy's Pick 5 competition which you can enter for free below.

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12.50 Epsom: Kolsai

I have decided to side with the only three-year-old in the field here, not because I believe he is favoured by the weight for age, or that he has a form edge over his rivals, but because he definitely seems to be ideally suited by this trip.

Most of his older rivals seem to excel over ten furlongs or more, and this tight extended mile at Epsom might not give them time to get into full stride.

This will only be Kolsai’s fifth start and he broke his maiden at Goodwood last season, a course that often suits runners who have thrived at Epsom.

He ran really well in a Listed race on his reappearance and wouldn’t have to improve much on that effort to land this contest.

1.30 Epsom: Auguste Rodin

Like many punters, I was left slightly numbed following Auguste Rodin's below-par effort in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas as, although what happened to him in the first furlong was obscured from view, it was pretty clear he was going to play no part in the race at any stage.

I am, however, still a believer in this son of Deep Impact as nothing I witnessed in the Derby Trials at Lingfield or York was enough to put me off Auguste Rodin who was a champion among staying two-year-old’s last season.

The fact that he has maintained his position at the head of the Betfred Derby market, despite that disappointment, is encouraging, too. The Ballydoyle team will have comprehensively looked into any possible reason why he ran so badly last time and I believe if they hadn’t sorted it, he wouldn't be running.

It was always possible that, even at his best, a mile might be too short for him as a three-year-old, but the Derby trip is definitely what he is bred for, and he can show his class here.

2.10 Epsom: Astral Beau

Astral Beau improved rapidly last Autumn, and many will believe his improvement was due to her relishing very soft ground, but I am not convinced that was the only reason she progressed.

Her winning run included a solid victory on good ground at Newmarket and she certainly wouldn't be the only filly that trainer Pam Sly has excelled with over the years.

She won a Listed race very easily on her reappearance at Doncaster this season before finishing third in a Group Two last time out and drops down to Group Three company here.

This doesn't look the strongest contest, either, so while there is a chance she could be outclassed, her seemingly superior rivals definitely lack her consistency, so I am hoping for another solid performance from Astral Beau.

2.45 Epsom: Can To Can

Adrian Nicholls and Barry McHugh did me a big favour in the main “Dash” last year and the trainer has landed me a touch this week, so I am happy to stay with the in-form handler here!

Not many trainers would be looking to improve a recruit from the Charlie Johnston yard, but that certainly seems to have happened here as Can To Can bolted up last time when making all to score by five lengths.

She was blinkered for the first time there, which was also her first outing on the all-weather, so there are possible explanations for the improved form but, based upon the way Nicholls’ runners are going, she might have just taken a big step forward.

She was quite well regarded last season having contested Listed races after she won her maiden, but failed to make an impact in those contests. Hopefully, she can progress further this season.

3.20 Epsom: Ancient Times

As ever, there is not the width of a cigarette paper between these sprinters in one of my favourite races of the year.

The one angle left in some of these big handicaps is the weight allowance of a good claimer, and that is one of the reasons to be with Ancient Times, who has clearly been aimed at this race.

It is arguable that all the rider has to do in a race such as this is point and go, but Kaiya Fraser has already proved to be much more capable than that, and effectively gives Ancient Times at least a length start on his rivals.

He should be able to get the lead amongst the high-drawn runners plus receive a relatively comfortable time of things up front. Ancient Times looked like he needed the run on his reappearance, but should come on for the outing based upon the form of the yard, and must have a strong chance at a track he has run well at before.

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