The Investec Derby is the third classic of the flat racing season, and after a triumphant Guineas weekend trainer Aidan O’Brien will be looking to make it a hat-trick at Epsom with his charge Cliffs of Moher.
But the early ante post movements suggest the Irishman will not have things all his own way, with the excellent Cracksman, the exciting talent Eminent and the quietly-fancied Permian all garnering plenty of attention.
Here’s a quick look at that quartet in profile:
Cliffs of Moher (4/1)
Celebrated trainer Aidan O’Brien landed the famed Guineas double earlier in the campaign – the third of his career, and he will be looking for more major success here courtesy of Cliffs of Moher.
The Irishman’s yard has landed 13 of the last 27 British ‘classics’, and with Cliffs of Moher winning both of his last two starts, including the Homeserve Dee Stakes, naturally favouritism in the market has followed.
But even with expert handler Ryan Moore taking the ride, questions remain as to whether this horse has been tested by a field of this high quality before.
The ante post favourite for this renewal for a decent amount of time, Cracksman has drifted after being withdrawn from the Derby warm-up, the Dante Stakes, by trainer John Gosden.
He decided to protect his young steed from the soft conditions at York, and so there are still question marks about a three-year-old who has run only twice before: the most impressive of which was his short head victory over Permian in the Investec Derby Trial back in April.
Owned by Anthony Oppenheimer – also responsible for former Derby champion Golden Horn, Cracksman is an intriguing prospect who will enjoy the firmer ground expected at Epsom.
One of the fancied dark horses for the 2000 Guineas, that run didn’t quite go to plan for Eminent although his sixth-place finish is masked by the fact that he was only three lengths or so back from eventual winner Churchill.
Punters will instead be looking to the potential he showed in taking down the Craven Stakes back in April. That was just his second start, but he outpaced highly thought-of duo Rivet and Benbatl to take the Group 3 outing on firm ground.
Eminent is the son of Frankel, the unbeaten major winner who landed a staggering ten Group 1 successes in his career, so the lineage – and narrative – is strong.
One of the most intriguing angles for punters this week is Permian, a previously unheralded chaser who took down one of the key Derby trials earlier in May in the Dante Stakes.
Ten horses have gone on to win the Derby after tasting success in the Dante, and that lineage has been particularly strong in recent years. Golden Horn did the double in 2015, Jack Hobbs finished second in the Dante in the same year before going on to land the Irish Derby, while in 2014 the Grey Gatsby enjoyed dual honours in the Dante and the Prix du Jockey-Club. This really is a renewal that can sow the seeds of future glory.
This Irish raider has finished in the money places in nine of his ten starts; seven of which have come at a price of 5/2 or greater.