THIS is one of my favourite days of the flat racing calendar each year and I'm in decent form after a nice winner advised at 12-1 last weekend.

Aside from the Derby itself there are always cracking races on the rest of the card at Epsom and historically I've had a good record on this day.  Once again there are a couple that I think are good value today.

3.45pm Epsom

The ‘Dash' over 5f is famous for being the quickest race in the UK.  They don't hang about and its a race that suits a certain type. Two of those are Duke of Firenze and EL ASTRONAUTE.

The former is a previous winner of the race in 2013 and was placed last year too but the latter, El Astronaute is the ideal candidate for me and is also a course and distance winner.  He isn't drawn particularly well from stall 7 – they say that a higher draw is favourable – but he is usually a very quick starter, pinging out of the stalls and taking up a prominent position.

If he can do that again today and get a better position I don't see the draw being an issue.  I can then see him using his speed to get away from them and just cling on out in front over the very short and very quick trip.

Well, that's the plan anyway… It's a win bet only and not an each way  because if he doesn't make a good start and gets caught in behind he will just fade away and finish down the field.  It's go hard or go home today for El Astronaute and hopefully he goes off like a rocket.

4.30pm Epsom – The Investec Derby

The Derby is often quite straightforward – the form of the top horse is usually quite transparent and more often that not there is an obvious Aidan O'Brien trained favourite.

This year it is a bit different and seems to be wide open.  There are also 19 runners which makes it very interesting from a tactical point of view and it has also led to some bookmakers like Paddy Power and Bet365 giving us extra places for the each way bets which is useful.

O'Brien has a full battalion of runners in the race this year and the most prominent in the betting is Cliffs of Moher. If you can get about 5-1 or better on him I wouldn't put you off a bet with Ryan Moore on board.  His speed figures for his maiden win were excellent and he showed plenty of resolve to dig deep and win last time at Chester.

He could be nicely suited by the test in the Derby. The one that I think is remarkable value though is PERMIAN trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by William Buick. He was only beaten in a photo finish by Cracksman at Epsom back in April and whilst Cracksman has been put away since then and kept for this race Permian has had two further runs, winning both in a manner which suggested he will enjoy the extra two furlongs today.

He is also the pick of William Buick who presumably would have had the choice of any of the Godolphin runners in the race but has gone with Permian. Mark Johnston is a master at training horses to be resilient and tenacious so I can see the horse staying the trip no problem.

Tactically he also has the advantage of being able to run near the front in a race where those coming from behind will almost certainly have traffic problems as the lesser lights that start near the front drop back through the field on a tight course. Taking all of this into account I can't understand why Permian is 11-1 and Cracksman is 9-2. Get on Permian each way with one of the bookies offering 4 places and I don't think we'll go far wrong.

5.30pm Epsom

PADDY POWER is the name of the horse, confusingly, that I like in this race.  He runs off bottom weight here but won last time out and looks to be one of those in the field capable of improvement.

Richard Fahey has stuck with him for a couple of years now when he initially didn't live up to expectations.  The sharp 6f here should play to his strengths and I was surprised to see that there is some 9-1 available this morning so that will do nicely for me with good each way terms.


  • 3.45 Epsom – 2pt win – El Astronaute at 10-1 with SkyBet, William Hill and others
  • 4.30 Epsom – 2pt e/w – Permian at 11-1 with Bet365 (4 places 1/4 odds special offer)
  • 5.50 Epsom – 1pt e/w – Paddy Power at 9-1 with Ladbrokes (4 places 1/4 odds)

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