2021 Epsom Derby Ante-Post Tips: Mohaafeth to down O'Brien battalion

2021 Derby Tips: Mohaafeth heads to Epsom as a leading contender for William Haggas.
2021 Derby Tips: Mohaafeth heads to Epsom as a leading contender for William Haggas.

Steve Chambers picks out his ante-post bets for the 2021 Derby, which takes place at Epsom Downs on Saturday 5th June...

With some notable Derby trials having taken place over the last few weeks, then the Classic picture is beginning to look a little clearer, and it's the Aidan O'Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet that sits at the top of the betting, and the hugely impressive Derrinstown Stud Derby trial looks the colt they all have to beat.

Hovering around the 6/4, 7/4 mark, at the time of writing, Bolshoi Ballet is looking to emulate the likes of Galileo (2001) and High Chaparall (2002), who have won the Derrinstown before going on to claim Derby glory at Epsom. A son of the aforementioned Galileo, Bolshoi didn't sparkle as a superstar during his two-year-old campaign, but it's been his three-year-old season that has seen him blossom. A comfortable winner of the Ballysax Stakes on his comeback run, Bolshoi Ballet propelled to the head of the Derby betting with a dominant performance in the Derrinstown, as he scooted six lengths clear of stablemate Lough Derg.

Having shown a blistering turn of foot at Leopardstown in early May, Bolshoi Ballet will now step up in trip for the Derby test, so he will need to show he can act around the unique undulations of Epsom. He's bred to stay the Derby trip of one and a half miles, so he is entitled to be a red-hot favourite. But, at his current odds, he offers no real value, so it could be worth looking elsewhere for a bet.

Dominant at Epsom over the last decade, O'Brien has trained six of the last nine winners of the Derby, and having trained the winner eight times during his illustrious career then the master of Ballydoyle will be looking to enhance his stunning record, and along with Bolshoi Ballet he will saddle a whole army of contenders. 

High Definition went into this season as one of the big names expecting to shine for the O'Brien team, but the unbeaten two-year-old failed to sparkle on his comeback run when a well beaten third in the Dante Stakes at York. Hurricane Lane was the winner of that Derby trial on the Knavesmire in early May, and the Godolphin raider was immediately slashed in the Derby betting. The unbeaten Charlie Appleby-trained raider will look to frank the York form with High Definition next month, and the manner in which he pulled clear of his rival suggests he could be one of the main dangers to Bolshoi Ballet. However, Hurricane Lane headed into the Dante on the back of a run, while High Definition was making his first start and he should improve significantly. High Definition is one contender that will relish the step up in trip and the Derby test could play to his strengths, and that is why the Ballydoyle runner is shorter in the betting than Hurricane Lane, and the Irish raider can reverse the York form next month.

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William Haggas last tasted Derby glory back in 1996 when Shaamit bagged the coveted prize, and the star trainer has a magnificent chance of claiming the Epsom Classic once again with Mohaafeth, who looks an attractive bet at 13/2. Like the abovementioned Bolshoi Ballet, Mohaafeth made no real impression as a juvenile, but it's been his three-year-old campaign that has seen him rocket into the Derby picture, and he looks a real class act. The son of Frankel kicked off his winning run with a victory at Lingfield, but the step up to 1m 2f saw improvement again at Newmarket in April, as he won a handicap with aplomb. Sent into Listed company next time out, Mohaafeth scooted five lengths clear of Secret Protector, and the manner of his victory suggested the step up in trip at Epsom won't pose any problems.

He will need to improve again, but the manner of his wins this season suggest that he could be a real Group 1 star, and providing he continues on an upward curve then he could well be the thorn in the side of the Ballydoyle squad, and Mohaafeth looks a cracking bet, at this current stage.

The front four in the betting set the standard, but there's a mountain of exciting colts available at double-figured prices and a couple worthy of a mention include recent Listed Newmarket winner John Leeper, who can perform with credit for Ed Dunlop, while the Lingfield Derby Trial Third Realm was a shock winner of that event two weeks ago, and will be looking to cause another upset at Epsom.

Roger Varian's El Drama was an impressive winner of the Dee Stakes, but it looks likely that he will be aimed at the French Derby, so while the 40/1 looks eye-catching, he's unlikely to feature, while Andrew Balding's Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit could be one that lands a blow at 25/1, but he needs to improve to feature.

We are all set for a fascinating renewal of this year's Derby, and no doubt the Aidan O'Brien squad will be strongly fancied, but it's the William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth that looks to be a real classy colt, and at this stage looks to be the value play in a fascinating betting market.

2021 Derby Tip
Mohaafeth silk


2021 Derby Odds
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