Epsom Derby tips: A favourite, an outsider and a no-hoper
Eminent looks the pick of the bunch, but Salouen could spring a surprise while Pealer is the horse for a miracle result
The Epsom Derby, which takes place on Saturday, is the richest horse race in Britain and the most prestigious of the five so-called Classics.
It was first run in 1780 when the prize money was just over £1,000. Now, almost 250 years later, the purse is £1.5m.
So who's in the frame to win the race this year?
Few experts look beyond the top three in the betting: Cliffs of Moher, Cracksman and Eminent. But it's the latter, slightly longer priced at 7-1, which offers the best value.
"All three have plenty to recommend them," says Betfair, although the bookmaker adds that Cliffs of Moher and Cracksman "both have to improve to win". Eminent, meanwhile, "should be the same price" as his rivals.
Eminent also has a pretty good pedigree. Sporting Life's Catching Pigeons column believes he "can give the mighty Frankel his first win as a sire" on Saturday.
However, be warned: Cracksman is also a son of Frankel.
As for outsiders, Salouen at 66-1 could be an attractive option. He has "a much better chance of hitting the jackpot for Sylvester Kirk and Fran Berry in the premier Classic than his odds suggest," says Andy Stephens of Racing UK.
"His form ties in with many of the principals, he's got plenty of experience (which could count for more than untapped potential this year) and he will love the drying ground. Most significant of all, perhaps, is that everything about him suggests he will relish stepping up to 1m4f for the first time."
Oli Bell of Sporting Life agrees. "This is a horse who is rated in and around the best in the race. He's twice proven himself in Group 1 company and he's a horse who on pedigree will definitely enjoy the trip. And yet, despite all that, he's still a massive price in what is a very open renewal of the Derby," he argues.
If picking a winner is an inexact science, then identifying a no-hoper is rather easier. And 1,000-1 shot Diore Lia is just that says Marcus Armytage of the Daily Telegraph.
Her chances are similar to those of an ordinary mortal in the Olympic 100m final.
"It is in our British nature to want an underdog to do well and, as Foinavon's 50th anniversary in April and Leicester last year proved, the rags-to-riches outsider remains sport's greatest story," he says.
If you believe in miracles there's another horse to consider.
"If you must throw away a fiver each-way on the Derby, waste it instead on John Gosden's Pealer at 200-1.
"It has no earthly chance on form and, if I tipped it on the racing page, the men in white coats would take me away. But, in my eyes, he could have beaten Cracksman in an Epsom gallop last week. Stranger things have happened but, I am afraid, Diore Lia is not about to be one of them."
Epsom rebrands free-to-watch area Poundland Hill for Derby
Horse racing may be known as the sport of kings, but Epsom appears to have embraced a different social strata, teaming up with discount retailer Poundland for this year's Derby.
Under the deal, between main sponsors Investec and Steinhoff International, which owns the budget brand, the famous free-to-enter field at the centre of the racecourse will be renamed Poundland Hill for the race next month.
"The large area of land, which is located at the centre of the famous Epsom Downs racecourse, is free to enter for pedestrians with a small fee for coaches or buses carrying racegoers," says the Daily Telegraph.
However, "the decision to rebrand the iconic mound has attracted some ridicule on social media".
Poundland trading director Barry Williams brushed off the criticism. He said: "All of Britain loves the Derby and, as the people's store, we’re looking forward to helping make the people's hill at Epsom one of the best ways for the family to experience the Derby."
Not everyone was convinced and the move has angered some.
"At first, just laughter at what reads like an April Fool's Day joke; laughter that anyone could be so crass as to name a free-viewing area at the Flat's greatest race after a high-street firm synonymous with bargain-basement deals. But that laughter turns quickly to incredulity," says the Racing Post.
"For most of us, a summer's day at the races with friends and family is about dressing up, letting the hair down and leaving behind the cares and strains of day-to-day life, not having them rubbed in your face by the condescending branding of oblivious corporate suits.
"Anyone on Poundland Hill next month will not just be reminded of the fact that they have taken the budget option to Derby day, they will know that it was those in top hats and tails sipping champagne in plush boxes across the racecourse who thought this was an appropriate rebranding exercise."