Saturday was another winning day for the bookmakers – there’s been a few of those in 2018 to date – as the Epsom Derby did not pan out as punters had expected.
The sun was shining in Surrey and many felt that the dry conditions would have done enough to firm up the soft going – great news for the odds-on favourite, Saxon Warrior, who is yet to really be tested on stodgy ground.
The Aiden O’Brien fancy had drifted from the 8/11 mark to 6/5 at one point having been drawn in stall number one – something of a graveyard for prospective Derby champions through the years – but with the sun out many were tempted to forget about that and instead back the 2000 Guineas winner to double up in the season’s second classic.
But they, and everyone in attendance and watching at home, did not expect a 16/1 winner to romp home in the prestigious renewal….
Sheikh, Rattle and Roll
It would have been a huge payday for punters had Saxon Warrior, under Ryan Moore, taken the spoils, but the three-year-old was barely in the frame and had to settle for fourth as the curse of stall one continued.
Instead it was Masar, who was third behind Saxon Warrior in the recent 2000 Guineas, who scored a win for Sheikh Mohammed, the all-powerful owner and Dubai royalty. It was a steady 16/1 triumph for the few who backed him, and a sigh of relief for the bookies as the odds-on jolly finished outside of the places. “When I was appointed, I told his highness that my goal was to have a Derby winner in the Godolphin blue,” said trainer Charlie Appleby.
It was the Sheikh’s first Derby winner in more than 40 attempts, with William Buick pulling on the famous light blue silks. It was an excellent ride from the Norwegian too, who got Masar close as the field entered the home straight and powered on to claim a convincing victory.
This was undoubtedly the horse’s finest hour, who had won just once in his prior four starts on UK and Irish soil. He was less than two lengths shy of Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas and had trounced Roaring Lion in the Craven Stakes back in April, and so arguably the signs were there for a decent run.
In second place in The Derby was Dee Ex Bee, who was widely available at 33/1 throughout the week. That followed the 2017 win of Wings of Eagles, who was a 40/1 outsider himself. Perhaps the Epsom Derby is becoming a race for the long-priced jollies!?
Bookies Breathe Sigh of Relief as O’Brien Draws Rare Blank
Aiden O’Brien had won four of the last six Derby renewals, and so you can forgive punters for tucking into Saxon Warrior on Saturday.
Ladbrokes’ Nicola McGeady said that Masar’s victory ‘….saved the industry a multi-million pound payout’, while SkyBet’s Michael Shinners said: “Masar proved relatively friendless in the market and was a good result. Saxon Warrior was backed to the exclusion of every other horse and we ended up with a very one-sided book.”