What a fantastic weekend we have in store at Epsom and all of our selections come across the Surrey track’s two brilliant days of action. We have solid, value selections in both the Oaks and the Derby on Friday and Saturday with top owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum potentially in line for a classic clean sweep.
Friday 31st May 2019
2.00 Epsom (Woodcote Stakes – Conditions Race) – PINATUBO
There is no shortage of competition for the selection here; Rayong could yet improve for the step up in trip, Oh Purple Reign represents good connections and Misty Grey ran a corker on debut at Ripon but the latter two are less likely to improve than the Godolphin colt and that makes him the standout.
Charlie Appleby’s son of Shamardal ran in snatches on debut at Wolverhampton but got the hang of things from a wide draw to score decisively from two subsequent winners, will improve a fair bit and the run may have been underestimated on the figures.
3.10 Epsom (Coronation Cup – Group 1) – DEFOE (each-way)
Although he hasn’t quite managed to reach the top level yet, it is still very much hoped that Defoe can claim a Group 1 win at some point but at these prices we don’t have to back him on the nose.
Roger Varian’s admirable five-year-old gelding is actually still getting better which is something we need to take into careful consideration, this season in fact he has improved markedly from race one to race two and it’s expected he’ll do so again.
At around the 16/1 mark he’s a great each-way bet, given that despite their obvious quality there are holes to pick in the profiles of Kew Gardens, Old Persian and Lah Ti Dar.
4.30 Epsom (The Oaks – Group 1) – MAQSAD
It’s the second fillies’ classic of the season and it looks a belter. The Oaks is competitive, not short of quality and provides very good betting value this year with all the usual suspects represented.
Despite prices at the time of writing ranging from 9/4 to 16/1, the realistic best performances expected from Pink Dogwood, Mehdaayih, Anapurna, Manuela De Vega and Frankellina are all within a pound or two of each other for me with the only one looking potentially a step above being William Haggas’ Maqsad.
Having started the season with a hard fought win at Newmarket’s Craven meeting over a mile, she really stepped up her form with a commanding five-length win over 1m2f in the Pretty Polly Stakes and shapes as though she’ll appreciate this mile-and-a-half trip even more.
Having checked out daughters of Siyouni as well as granddaughters of Galileo, it seems that we should expect 7-8lbs of improvement from her at this stage of her career and that’s something that would make her competitive in any Oaks, though she may prove even better than that.
5.15 Epsom (Surrey Stakes – Listed Race) – ANGELS HIDEAWAY
Given the fillies’ allowance, John Gosden’s Angels Hideaway has an outstanding chance of landing a well deserved win here albeit at more prohibitive odds than I’d hoped for.
Having run so well in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, it is possibly still hoped that she will one day get her Group 1 making this Listed event appear well within her compass and she has the speed to go down to seven furlongs for sure, though she’s not without solid rivals in the shape of Urban Icon and the improving Space Blues.
Saturday 1st June 2019
2.35 Epsom (Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Group 3) – VERACIOUS
Although possibly favourite for this which is never ideal, there’s a strong feeling that we should strike while the iron is hot where Sir Michael Stoute’s horses are concerned, his better runners in the last fortnight running to marks of around 5lbs better than their previous highs.
Veracious and Ryan Moore more or less gave up when her chance had gone at Newmarket but she’ll be 100% ready for this race and can score at the expense of Nyaleti.
4.30 Epsom (The Derby – Group 1) – MADHMOON
On paper this isn’t hottest Derby seen in recent years, but then again the point of this race is that we don’t know truly what sort of quality it will throw out until the race is over with the likes of Sir Dragonet, Broome and Bangkok capable of much improvement having won trials.
Aidan O’Brien has an apparent stranglehold on the race with the top two in the market in the shape of Sir Dragonet and Broome complemented by no fewer than five others but his team this time probably smacks of slightly more quantity than quality and therefore his top two don’t look terrific value.
Dante winner Telecaster has been supplemented into the race and as such an inexperienced horse he is entitled to improve, but that York race usually takes some winning and never more so than this year so scorers in that tend not to improve as much as other trial winners and his gruelling task was undertaken only 16 days ago.
There are a couple of real value shouts in the race though, firstly a massive potential each-way opportunity with Godolphin’s Line Of Duty. Having won at Grade 1 level in America last year, beating the likes of Anthony Van Dyck and Preakness Stakes winner War Of Will easily, he is one of precious few in this line-up that has conclusively proven he can handle the top level so assuming we can put a line through his Dante run then 50/1 looks a complete steal.
The other with proven quality and crucially much better recent form is Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon and he gets the nod at a nice 10/1 at the time of writing.
He’s only had four runs in his life and a close look at them reveals he’s done virtually nothing wrong so far. He beat Sydney Opera House (rated 109) very easily on debut before serving up a similar beating to Broome, now second favourite for this race.
The seven furlong trip and very soft ground were obviously not to his liking when he ran second on his seasonal reappearance before he ran fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket from stall 1, quite literally the worst draw by some way. He was only beaten by 4 lengths at HQ, a gap potentially explained in its totality by the fact he was situated a full 16 stalls away from the winner so the fact that he wants this mile-and-a-half trip means we can expect another proper Group 1 performance from him.