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2017 Epsom Derby tips – Rating Aidan O’Brien’s six runners in the Derby

Jonathan Vine in Epsom Tips 1 Jun 2017
Dee Stakes Champion, Cliffs Of Moher (centre) will be one of six Aidan O'Brien trained runners lining up in the Epsom Derby on Saturday.

Our expert looks at each of Aidan O’Brien’s six runners in Saturday’s Epsom Derby and rates their chances of winning flat racing’s most famous race.

Aidan O’Brien has been dominant in the major races so far this season, with two of his Ballydoyle residents already claiming the first two Classic prizes of the year in the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. 

Britain's premier flat racing trainer has won the Derby three times in the past five years and he has sent a menacing mob of six runners to Epsom this weekend in the hope that one of them will be good enough to land him a sixth victory in this Classic contest.

Our expert takes a look at each of his six runners in a little more detail and rates their chances of claiming Derby glory on Saturday 3rd June.

Cliffs Of Moher - 4/1 bet365

Cliffs Of Moher fell to a surprise defeat on his first career start back in October, but Aidan O’Brien sent him to Leopardstown two weeks later, where he destroy a good field of rivals by four-and-a-half lengths. 

His only start of the new season came in the Listed Dee Stakes at Chester, where he and Ryan Moore went to post as the odds-on favourites. Moore was forced to push his charge along three furlongs from home, but his mount reacted well, swooping into a commanding, unassailable lead before claiming that Listed title by one-and-a-half lengths.

All-but-one of O’Brien’s Derby horses are out of Galileo, so the step up to 12 furlongs shouldn’t cause any of them any undue problems. Cliffs Of Moher’s Dee Stakes triumph wasn’t spectacular, but the way he responded to his riders urging and the style in which he coped with an unfavourable wide draw on a tricky Chester track was impressive.

Cliffs Of Moher's Derby Rating – 8/10

Capri - 11/1 Ladbrokes

Capri quickly rose to a rating of 108 during his two-year-old season, claiming a hat-trick of wins towards the back end of the campaign, including a Listed title at Tipperary and a comfortable victory in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh. He then went to post as the odds-on favourite to win on his Group 1 debut at Saint-Cloud, but a slow start scuppered his chances and he had to settle for third.

His results so far in 2017 can be viewed as disappointing. He finished fourth behind Rekindling and stablemates Douglas Macarthur and Yucatan in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes on his reappearance, before coming home a neck behind those same two stablemates in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes a month later.

A significant amount of rain in the Suffolk area saw plenty of backing for Capri, who has recorded his best results on ground with plenty of give. However, his price before the rains came was around the 20/1 mark and the course clerk at Epsom is confident the ground will have dried out before Saturday’s main event.

Capri’s Derby Rating – 6/10

Venice Beach (centre) comfortably beats Wings Of Eagles (left) and The Anvil (right) to the Chester Vase title earlier this month.

Venice Beach
- 14/1 William Hill

Venice Beach appeared once in 2016, finishing second in a decent maiden at Leopardstown. His first outing as a three-year-old was a largely underwhelming third-place finish in another Leopardstown maiden, but since then he has recorded two impressive victories over the same 12 furlong trip he will face at Epsom.

He managed to break his winning duck at Tipperary in April, cruising to an easy four-and-a-half length victory over a decent Jim Bolger horse. He then travelled to Chester as the 5/2 favourite to win the Chester Vase and Ryan Moore’s mount put in a very professional performance to take that title a length ahead of two of his stablemates.

Venice Beach is the joint-highest rated of all six Aidan O’Brien runners in the Derby and he’s the only colt in the field to have won over a mile-and-a-half. 

Venice Beach Derby Rating – 8/10

Douglas Macarthur - 25/1 bet365

After claiming an easy victory on his career debut, O’Brien threw Douglas Macarthur straight into Grouped company, where he finished third in the Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown. Two more Grouped outings followed at the end of his two-year-old season, where he finished fifth and fourth at Newmarket and Saint-Cloud respectively.

He was an overlooked 8/1 shot in the Ballysax Stakes, but ran a good race to come home half-a-length behind surprise winner Rekindling. Despite finishing ahead of Yucatan and Capri at Leopardstown, he went to post as the 7/1 third favourite in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes. Yet, despite the punters predicting otherwise, that Ballysax form repeated itself and Douglas Macarthur landed a maiden black type title.

He too is rated at 111, along with Venice Beach, so based on ratings alone they will be Aidan O’Brien’s best chances in the Derby. Five of his six career starts have come in lucrative grouped contests and that win in the Derrinstown aside, he has finished no worse than two-and-a-half lengths behind the winners on all of his starts in Stakes races.

Douglas Macarthur's Derby Rating – 7/10

Ryan Moore riding Douglas Macarthur at Leopardstown in the autumn.

Wings Of Eagles
- 33/1 bet365

Wings Of Eagles defeated odds-on favourite, Birds Of Prey to claim a maiden victory last summer. Two outings in prestigious two-year-old races followed, but he finished fourth behind Coronet, Cunco and Permian in the Listed Zetland Stakes at Newmarket, before coming home a distant seventh on his first visit to Saint-Cloud.

His only appearance so far this season came in the Chester Vase, where he produced an eye-catching late charge to overcome a slow start and finish closest to Venice Beach when the winner crossed the fishing line.

He’s out of popular Irish Sire, Pour Soi and the way he finished his race at Chester suggests he will be open to progression over this longer trip. Whether he has the class to claim the Derby title is debatable.

Wings Of Eagles Derby Rating – 5/10

The Anvil - 50/1 Ladbrokes

The Anvil is the most experienced of all six Aidan O’Brien runners in the Derby. He wasn't particularly impressive during his two-year-old season, with a third behind Glencadam Glory and a second to Best Of Days his best results in four seasonal starts.

Donnacha O’Brien guided the odds-on favourite to a maiden victory in his first start of 2017, winning a maiden by almost five lengths, which led to many experts tipping him to make an impact in the Chester Vase. He set a good pace at the front of the field that day at Chester and despite being overtaken by Venice Beach and Wings Of Eagles, he did well to hold onto third.

He’s certainly on an upward curve in terms of form and progression, but whether he can hang with some of the exciting colts in this race is unlikely.

The Anvil Derby Rating – 4/10

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2017 Epsom Derby tips – Rating Aidan O’Brien’s six runners in the Derby

Our expert looks at each of Aidan O’Brien’s six runners in Saturday’s Epsom Derby and rates their chances of winning flat racing’s most famous race.

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