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Epsom Derby best bets: Los Angeles and Ancient Wisdom set to shine, Bellum Justum can defy odds

A large high-quality field means that this year’s Epsom Derby could well live up to its name as a Classic, with most of the 16 runners holding realistic hopes of being involved in the final stages.

16:30 Epsom:  Betfred Derby  (1 mile 4 furlongs)

It enough backers keep the faith with City Of Troy, then Aidan O’Brien’s colt looks likely to be sent off as the Derby favourite, despite having bombed in the 2000 Guineas just a month ago.

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That disappointing ninth place at Newmarket belied the reputation he had built during his stellar unbeaten two-year-old campaign, but despite the presence of Ryan Moore, he looks vulnerable at that price and easy to oppose in favour of his equally well-fancied stablemate, Los Angeles.

A couple of tidy wins last autumn provided the springboard that brought the completion of a career hat-trick at Leopardtown’s Derby Trial three weeks ago, when he beat another opposing stablemate Euphoric by a length.

The step up to a mile and a half fits his profile, and should City Of Troy falter again, Los Angeles could well become the pick of O’Brien’s runners to give Wayne Lordan his third Classic winner.

Top tip: Los Angeles in the 16:30 at Epsom


It’s worth noting that William Buick is operating at a 24 percent win rate this term, and that climbs to 25% over the last five years at Epsom, where 56% of his rides have been placed. Trainer Charlie Appleby is even hotter right now, having saddled 34 winners from just 109 runners, with a further 31 making the frame (60% place rate).

That powerful team have a great chance of adding to those impressive tallies with Ancient Wisdom, who won four of his five juvenile outings, culminating in Group 1 glory when landing the Futurity Stakes at Doncaster last October.

That win was in heavy conditions and he would probably prefer more cut in the ground here, but that said, he coped with better going on his reappearance in the Dante Stakes at York 16 days ago, and despite failing to land the odds behind Economics, he looked like he had trained on nicely over the winter break.

Next best bet: Ancient Wisdom in the 16:30 at Epsom


Beyond the five market principals, the remaining 11 runners are all available at double-digit odds, and with most bookies paying out on four places (as many as five in some quarters), there’s plenty of food for thought regarding each-way value.

Andrew Balding has had big-priced runners defy their odds in the Derby before, and with Tom Marquand and Oisin Murphy at his disposal he isn’t short of quality horsemanship in the saddle.

The former is aboard Sayedaty Sadaty, who looks the type to have more to come after a couple of promising runner-up spots at Newcastle and Newmarket in the spring, but it is Murphy’s mount who gets our final each-way nod.

Bellum Justum improved in leaps and bounds during a four-race juvenile campaign that was crowned by a first success in a 17-runner maiden at Newmarket in September, a race in which he notably finished half a length clear of Inisherin, who notably landed the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock last weekend.

Outsider punt: Bellum Justum in the 16:30 at Epsom

Previous experience of the Epsom track can prove invaluable, so Bellum Justum’s connections will be optimistic of his chances after watching him see off five rivals at this venue on his only three-year-old outing 39 days ago, when he never looked like relinquishing the lead he took two furlongs out.

Trainer and jockey are in red-hot form this year, both separately and as a team, and with Bellum Justum showing enough to suggest he has more in the locker to last the longer trip, he could well be involved again at the business end of what should be a thrilling 2024 Derby.


READ MORE: Saturday ITV racing tips: Best bets for day 1 of Epsom’s Derby Festival on June 1

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