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Investec Derby 2015: Can Epicuris triumph for France?

Epicuris is the sole French raider in this year’s Investec Derby, and Coral make the talented but quirky colt a 20/1 shot to become the 11th Gallic raider to land the premier Classic at Epsom on Saturday, June 6th.

The last French horse to win the contest was the Andre Fabre trained Pour Moi in 2011, and Epicuris has a similar profile.

Pour Moi went into the Derby on the back of four runs, and had been beaten in the Group 3 Prix La Force at Longchamp on the first start of his three-year-old campaign.

Epiucuris has also had four outings and, after winning all three as juvenile, got turned over at odds-on when finishing second in the Prix La Force on his seasonal reappearance.

After that defeat the plan had been for Epicuris to take in the he Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud on May 5th, a race which Pour Moi won, as his prep run for the French Derby.

However, he refused to enter the stalls and connections were left with a dilemma as to future plans.

Although Epicuris has since passed a stalls test, he did so with the assistance of horse behavioural expert Nicolas Blondeau who also followed the stable’s outstanding mare Goldikova all over the world.

French rules prevent anyone other than the official stalls handlers assisting down at the start, so top French trainer Criquette Head-Maarek decided not to risk Epicuris refusing in the Prix du Jockey Club and switched her sights to Epsom instead.

That looks a shrewd move, and Epicuris went very well in his final piece of work ahead of Saturday’s Group 1 contest.

The Khalid Abdullah-owned Rail Link colt is entitled to come on a bundle for the outing in the Prix La Force, and his juvenile form was very smart and included a success in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 1m 2f.

Fame And Glory won the same race before going on to finish a cracking runner-up to the sensational Sea The Stars in the 2009 running of the Derby, and Head-Maarek’s exploits with dual Arc winner Treve show her outstanding skills at getting a horse primed to perfection for the big day.

Epicuris will be Head-Maarek’s second runner in the Epsom showpiece after French Guineas winner American Post finished sixth behind North Light in 2004 and, if all goes well at the start, he looks a lively outsider in a wide open renewal.