Frankie factor has the Hazapour hazard lights flashing for bookies in Derby
Bookmakers are bracing themselves for the Frankie factor to kick in as the clock ticks down to the Investec Derby – and there were clear signs on Monday that punters are warming to the chances of Dettori's mount Hazapour.
With Dettori and Hazapour's trainer Dermot Weld both having enjoyed Derby glory in the past three years, there is expectation the price of the Derrinstown Derby trial winner will contract as punters look for alternatives to odds-on favourite Saxon Warrior.
Hazapour was widely available at 14-1 on Monday morning but 12-1 was the general price by the evening, with some firms quoting 11-1.
Two-time Derby winner Dettori's popularity guarantees him plenty of supporters in what in turnover terms is British Flat racing's number one event, while Weld struck just two years ago with Harzand, who was backed on raceday from 14-1 into 13-2.
Sky Bet went non-runner no-bet on the Derby on Monday, when spokesman Michael Shinners said: “Saxon Warrior dominates the betting but at bigger prices we expect Hazapour to prove popular in the build-up to the race."
That sentiment was universally shared.
Paul Binfield, for Paddy Power, said: “If there's a horse who might emerge from the pack it could be Hazapour.
"He received a big form boost with Platinum Warrior scoring at the Curragh yesterday and did well to win the Derrinstown first time up against the very heavily fancied The Pentagon. He could just be one to really step forward.”
Betfred's only loser in the book as of Monday is Saxon Warrior, but spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: “One horse to keep an eye on is Hazapour. Dermot Weld’s charge brings the Frankie factor to Epsom and he could come out of the pack at around 12-1.”
The unusual jockey-trainer combination is an element of Hazapour's profile that catches the eye, Dettori having ridden just four times for Weld in Britain and Ireland – and not since 2001.
Weld and Dettori in tandem
Date Horse Race Track Position
June 2001 Steaming Home Windsor Castle Ascot 2nd
July 1999 Timote King George Stakes Goodwood 4th
June 1998 Aljjawarih Scurry Handicap Curragh 11th
August 1994 High Tycoon Lawrence Batley H'p York 5th
Representatives of Ladbrokes, Betfair Sportsbook, Coral and bet365 also said on Monday they expected Hazapour to prove popular, while Young Rascal was the other colt identified as likely to turn heads of those not prepared to back Saxon Warrior at a short price.
Barry Orr of Betfair Sportsbook said: “From all of the trial winners Young Rascal was probably the best backed following his win in the Chester Vase.
"James Doyle and William Haggas have become a firm favourite with punters this season, so he's one I think won’t be the current 12-1 come Saturday.’’
Saxon Warrior is a general 8-11 shot, with bookmakers not expecting that price to get much bigger, if at all, and some firms believing he will start shorter than that.
Pat Cooney of bet365 said: “It does seem as though the only box that remains unticked about Saxon Warrior's Derby chance is that of proven stamina, but if he stays then all his rivals and layers will be in trouble.
“Given his current main market rival Roaring Lion may well have stamina doubts, it’s hard to see him being opposed in the market from here on in.
"I doubt if any brave souls will go evens or bigger; why would you when you’re laying plenty enough at odds-on? It’s reminiscent of Camelot’s 2012 Derby win, and he was returned at 8-13."
Nicola McGeady of Labrokes added: “Saxon Warrior will be the worst result on the day.
"We’ve laid some big bets already, including a £40,000 bet in a shop. On the day we could take him on depending on what’s being backed against him, but it’s still likely he’ll go off very short. I can’t see him drifting too much."
While a Saxon Warrior win would bring dark clouds for bookmakers, Coral's David Stevens did suggest a silver lining.
He said: “The Derby remains the biggest Flat race for betting turnover and a win for the hot favourite would clearly be bad news for the bookies, but if Saxon Warrior does win en route to a Triple Crown bid it can only be good for the sport.”
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