It’s an incredibly busy weekend of flat racing action. Friday sees Epsom Downs host the Oaks and the Coronation Cup, while it’s Derby Day on Saturday as well as Belmont Stakes Day over in New York.
Friday 4th June 2020
4.30 Epsom (The Oaks – Group 1) – ZEYAADAH
This looks to be a good quality Oaks renewal. Favourite Santa Barbara may or may not stay, that much is hard to judge, but she did run very well in the 1000 Guineas on only her second ever run.
Of the other Aidan O’Brien runners, Snowfall rather nicked the Musidora but is entitled to come on from that, while Divinely has been very well backed since being short of room in defeat at Lingfield but the form isn’t strong there anyway and she may be best on softer ground.
Teona didn’t give her true running at York behind Snowfall and may improve more than most with the right amount of stamina in her pedigree, while Ocean Road is too big a price for each-way backers.
Dubai Fountain landed the Cheshire Oaks last time, but not as much improvement is expected from the Mark Johnston filly as from some others while stamina and quicker ground may also catch her out.
Very unlucky in behind her last time was Roger Varian’s Zeyaadah and she is the pick of the bunch. She was caught on heels for what seemed an age at Chester, losing many lengths and not being able to get out. When in the clear, she showed a great turn of foot to almost run Dubai Fountain down and crucially proved her stamina in seeing out every yard of the 1m3½f trip right to the line.
8.23 Doncaster (Handicap) – MONBAHER
Sir Michael Stoute is notoriously patient with his three-year-olds so we may not yet see the improvement many expect from likely favourite Evaluation here, while Wor Willie can improve but perhaps not enough.
The solid and value one in the line-up is the Gosden’s Monbaher. He’s been rather in and out so far, but has tons of improvement in him over this sort of trip and even on the form of his sixth behind Nagano he has a major chance at these weights.
Saturday 5th June 2021
2.00 Epsom (Handicap) – CAMELOT TALES
This mile-and-a-quarter handicap could be tailor made for Simon and Ed Crisford’s Camelot Tales. By Derby winner Camelot and out of a Shirocco mare, he should not only handle this track but will also see out every yard of the trip.
Ignoring his last run on the all-weather at Newcastle where all wasn’t right, the form of his Redcar win when nowhere near the finished article is fascinating.
That form is superb in the context of this race based on the subsequent runs of the horses he beat comfortably, he’s bred for the job and his price is ridiculous considering he may be a stone well in.
2.35 Epsom (Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Group 3) – MAAMORA
This isn’t the highest quality renewal, but that could play into our hands. Nazuna is dangerous as improvement is possible this season, while Statement just doesn’t quite look up to the job as yet.
The Crisford’s Maamora however is rock solid. The five-year-old should peak this season and will be all the better now for her opening run of the campaign, just her second in 16 months. Her past form entitles her to win this and she looks decent value to get the job done.
3.10 Epsom (Diomed Stakes – Group 3) – MAXIMAL
Of the main contenders considered here, Sir Michael Stoute’s Maximal is the only three-year-old but experience isn’t an issue considering the battles he’s had.
The Galileo colt should like it here, but hated the ground when a good second behind El Drama at Chester who at that point was a single-figure price for the Derby. Before that he had a run-in right to the line with live Derby chance Hurricane Lane, but this looks more his trip and he can now show his true class.
Prince Eiji is probably best of the rest, ahead of Bell Rock.
4.30 Epsom (The Derby – Group 1) – MOHAAFETH
Aidan O’Brien dropped a bombshell by leaving only Bolshoi Ballet in this race from all his contenders, a move that goes some way towards telling you what they think of a strong favourite who took down the top two trial races in Ireland this spring in taking fashion.
He has all the right attributes and could give Galileo yet another win in this race, but he’s too short a price and nothing is guaranteed in the Derby.
For various reasons Third Realm, John Leeper, One Ruler and Adayar may run well but come up short, while Mac Swiney was a winner of the Vertem Futurity last season and the Irish 2000 Guineas last time and will be plenty of people’s idea of the winner.
The two I like at the prices given their class are Hurricane Lane and Mohaafeth. The former is three from three now and has done nothing but improve. In his last two races he has battled hard to see off Maximal at Sandown and then Megallan in the Dante at York, trainer Charlie Appleby reportedly being very happy with him since.
We should see a good amount of improvement from him and his rider William Buick thinks he’s a certain stayer.
Mohaafeth is a mystery. Initially coming from the handicap route, he improved no end in May when taking a Listed event at Newmarket in incredibly easy fashion.
He ran all over his three opponents at seemingly half speed before leaving them behind at what can only be described as a canter. There is simply unfathomable potential in him and he is very much bred for this being by Frankel, who does well at this trip, out of a Sea The Stars mare and at the odds he is very much work backing to land a huge Derby win for William Haggas.
8.58 Belmont Park (Just a Game Stakes – Grade 1) – ALTHIQA
Charlie Appleby has sent Althiqa and Summer Romance over to New York to take on Pocket Square, formerly trained in England, and Blowout among others.
Althiqa is the one fancied at the weights, the firm turf and quicker mile at Belmont looking right up her street and she can grab a value-boosting Grade 1 win under Mike Smith.
11.49 Belmont Park (Belmont Stakes – Grade 1) – ESSENTIAL QUALITY
Regardless of the ‘winner’ potentially now being thrown out of the Kentucky Derby in which we backed Essential Quality, it transpires that having been caught wide at two crucial points the Godolphin colt covered 8½ lengths more than Bob Baffert’s horse there and remains the best sophomore in the country.
He is by Tapit who has such an amazing record in this race, meaning confidence is high that he can take the last leg of the Triple Crown before coming back to a mile-and-a-quarter for the rest of the season. Rombauer and Rock Your World are the main dangers.