Friday, 3 July 2020

Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th July 2020: English to be Crowned King on Derby Day

We have a truly massive weekend of top-class action, frankly too much to write about in fact, but these six over Saturday and Sunday look the strongest bets on what is a Classic weekend.

Saturday 4th July 2020


1.50 Epsom (Woodcote Stakes) – MODERN NEWS


Modern News may be no Pinatubo, but he is trained by the same trainer and is by the same sire (Shamardal) and could well emulate his stable companion by taking the Woodcote.

A winner on debut at Newmarket over five furlongs, Charlie Appleby’s colt was on the outer that day but swept by to claim victory over a trip that would be a little short for his liking. He has beaten subsequent winners and can improve plenty now, putting him at a good level despite his reversal in the Chesham Stakes.

Modern News’ run at Ascot was no disaster and we can’t forget he was well fancied at 4/1 that day, so plenty can be expected here as he goes up against likely main rival Twaasol as well as Mutazawwed and Inhaler.

3.40 Epsom (The Oaks – Group 1) – FRANKLY DARLING


Fillies get their few pounds’ allowance from colts because of the bare fact that they are a little weaker, so asking them to tackle the same track and trip as the Derby has always put more emphasis on stamina than it has in the colt’s race and this is why John Gosden’s Frankly Darling is so well fancied.

Runner-up on unsuitable heavy ground last year, she was a taking winner at Newcastle before routing her Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes field at Royal Ascot over the full 1½ miles and is sure to see out this trip better than many others for the same sire/trainer/jockey combo as last year’s winner Anapurna.

The yard could yet have a great value filly with a place chance in the shape of another impressive Newcastle winner, Tiempo Vuela. Stamina is the main issue and she didn’t run well on her seasonal bow, but it’s clear she has the talent and will be a force at this level at some point.

1000 Guineas winner Love has been the one for money and there’s no doubt she is talented, however Aidan O’Brien’s filly does have more of a look of a miler about her and so despite the nice way she opened up at Newmarket, a chance is taken on her just not seeing out this extra four furlongs.

Ribblesdale runner-up Ennistymon is probably best of the rest, but there are plenty of big prices floating around and with good reason as the Gosden horse has a more and more solid look about her every time the race is previewed.

4.55 Epsom (The Derby – Group 1) – ENGLISH KING


A decent renewal of the Blue Riband, one in which my own long-term fancy is still the one to be on and that is Ed Walker’s English King.

His win at Newcastle in great fashion last back end, a place that is now a veritable breeding ground for top-class talent, went rather under the radar and so it was no surprise when he was backed from 9/2 to 9/4 when landing the gamble for this column in the Derby Trial at Lingfield last month.

He has balance, he is a proven stayer, has obvious class and on both his wins he has shown an impressive turn of pace right at the death to put his races to bed. As a bonus, it must be pointed out that he beat Berkshire Rocco with ease at Lingfield who went on to run second to Santiago in an Ascot Group 2 before that horse subsequently took the Irish Derby last weekend. Frankie Dettori takes the ride.

All the talk about impressive Guineas winner Kameko has been about whether he will stay, but on his running style, his breeding as well as on a line through Roaring Lion who Oisin Murphy thinks he is a lot like, he may just not.

He’s got the best form, there’s no doubt about that, and is a good alternative to English King at the prices but I can’t help thinking he’ll be seen to better effect in races such as the Juddmonte International or the Champion Stakes later in the campaign.

The big each-way value is Ralph Beckett’s all-weather winner Emissary. He was beaten last time and has some learning to do and at around 33/1 he is overpriced.

Aidan O’Brien sends his usual battalion with for my money Mogul and Russian Emperor being hard to split as the best of them despite very strong money for the former, while also overpriced for potential place money are Mohican Heights and Max Vega.

Sunday 5th July 2020


1.50 Sandown (Coral Charge – Group 3) – LAZULI


Set to thrive now down to the minimum distance, Godolphin’s Lazuli was a winner for us last time in the Listed Scurry Stakes and in taking that event before coming here he is following the same career path as a certain Battaash.

Looking well capable of burning off Liberty Beach, Maid In India, Dakota Gold and A’Ali William Buick’s mount gets the nod to carry on his progression with Group 1’s on the agenda later on.

2.25 Sandown (Henry II Stakes – Group 3) – CROSS COUNTER


Rather unusually, these have all been priced up in the exact order I’d had them on private ratings which gives the race a rock-solid look.

The most likely winner is Godolphin’s Cross Counter who may be heading back to the Melbourne Cup later in the year, with Dashing Willoughby considered next best ahead of Spanish Moon, Withhold and finally Summer Moon.

3.35 Sandown (Eclipse Stakes – Group 1) – GHAIYYATH


Despite Lord North coming out and the Derby and Oaks both being run this weekend, this could be the race of the season.

I love Enable as much as anyone, but she is so often just on the cusp with her fillies’ allowance when up against the boys and this time she has a proper challenger in the tearaway Ghaiyyath.

Charlie Appleby’s bullet train has truly earned his high rating and broke the Newmarket track record last time in the Coronation Cup, while it’s easy to see this being his career best over a trip he may well excel at.

The queen of the turf is next on the list ahead of the overpriced Regal Reality who will come good at some point, while Japan seems a level below the big two but may well make a fist of it given that Ghaiyyath’s pace may help the stayers a little.

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