It’s Oaks and Derby weekend and what a fantastic spectacle it should be. We are betting across both days at Epsom Downs.
Friday 3rd June 2022
2.00 Epsom (Woodcote Stakes) – ESTATE
Commander Straker is favourite for the Woodcote, but the more experienced horse didn’t have Andrew Balding’s Estate far behind at all last time and the latter now has a good weight pull. He’ll also improve plenty.
Legend Of Xanadu, Blatant and Self Praise all have place chance too.
3.10 Epsom (Coronation Cup – Group 1) – MANOBO
We have a small but high quality field for the first of our three Group 1 races at Epsom.
We know how good last year’s winner Pyldriver is and he comes into this in top form, though he does face tougher opposition this time around.
High Definition eventually did what was expected of him last time, albeit in defeat, though is a mile-and-a-half truly to his advantage?
Hukum has been beaten at the top level before though if it comes up particularly soft, he’d go well, but Manobo is potentially the best of the bunch.
Based on what Manobo should have achieved when favourite to win the Dubai Gold Cup had he got the trip, along with the relative levels of other Sea The Stars colts at this stage of their careers, he may be a little ahead of the rest.
4.30 Epsom (The Oaks – Group 1) – WITH THE MOONLIGHT
Much like the Derby, this looks very much an up to par renewal.
Emily Upjohn has been all the rage for this race and it’s easy to see why. Unbeaten in three starts, she was outstanding at Sandown and then again in the Musidora at York. She is also by Sea The Stars, almost guaranteeing she’ll stay, and is trained by John and Thady Gosden.
Up against her is the overpriced With The Moonlight for Charlie Appleby’s yard. She’s a little more experienced, but is a heavy improver and we can’t lose sight of that.
Her win in the Pretty Polly over Guineas weekend was as good as anything I’ve seen within this field, while her pedigree and style of running suggests that the trip won’t be a problem either. Big chance in the third Classic of the year.
Of the others Concert Hall is solid, Tuesday has Classic form but needs to improve, Nashwa can help Hollie Doyle make history if she carries on the same trajectory, though she isn’t the most likely stayer, and Tranquil Lady has a place chance too.
5.10 Epsom (Surrey Stakes – Listed Race) – DAWN OF LIBERATION
It’s easy to see why Oscula is favourite for this race, but the fast-improving Dawn Of Liberation has already usurped the filly on ratings and has more to give yet. Ever Given should also be watched closely.
6.41 Doncaster (Handicap) – DHAHABI
Dhahabi was third in the Autumn Stakes as a juvenile and has close form with some Group 1 performers.
After his injury, he returned at the Guineas meeting and ran a solid race and could be ready to pounce ahead of Bullace, Magical Morning and Swiss Ace.
Saturday 4th June 2022
2.00 Epsom (Handicap) – BLUE TRAIL
I really wanted to back Honiton for this race, but connections have pulled him out. They do still have Charlie Appleby’s Blue Trail in here though and on this sort of ground, he could prove to be the best handicapped horse.
Mr Big Stuff and Sweeping are also considered in what is a very competitive event.
2.35 Epsom (Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Group 3) – BASHKIROVA
Cheveley Park run two very nice fillies here in the shape of Potapova and Bashkirova. It’ll be interesting to see who the owners favour, and which one nabs top spot in the market too.
Potapova’s rating may be wrong. Her form with Saffron Beach and more recently with Roman Mist and My Astra gives her a great chance here.
Bashkirova however has been stopped in reaching her full potential by fast ground and this may be better for her. On a line through Madame Tantzy, as well as with Zanbaq and likes on unsuitable ground, she is worthy of a mark of somewhere between 110-115 now and that will be good enough. Technique is best of the rest.
4.30 Epsom (The Derby – Group 1) – NATIONS PRIDE
The 2022 Derby really is some spectacle. The crowds are fully back on the Downs, the race is part of the country’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and it will be run in memory of the late, great Lester Piggott.
To top it all off, this looks like an above average renewal too.
There are many things to look at when picking a Derby horse. Trends, basically, are nonsense, though there lots of variables to consider.
We need to take into account class and evidence of staying ability which can come from pedigree and/or recent form.
We attempt to work out rates of improvement, keep an eye on the clock as speed is still a factor, while also bearing in mind any info available on stride patterns and the like.
A Derby runner won’t have it all, but everything is taken into consideration.
The Guineas form is often important. Eydon is now out, though Royal Patronage represents that form, having beaten Coroebus last year before running second to Desert Crown in the Dante.
Five-time Derby winner Sir Michael Stoute looks like he’s rather crashing an O’Brien/Appleby party! His Desert Crown was a good winner on debut last year before his master trainer got him ready just in time to race in the Dante, only his second career start.
He put up the single best performance so far of any horse in this race at York and, with some improvement expected, is now an obvious favourite.
Donnacha O’Brien has booked Frankie Dettori for his Piz Badile, a tough winner of the Ballysax Stakes back in April, though he’s not certain to stay or improve as much as some others.
Father Aidan O’Brien saddles Dee Stakes winner Star Of India, Chester Vase scorer Changingoftheguard and impressive Derby Trial winner Stone Age. All are by Galileo. The last-named is the best in my book and he’ll stay.
Godolphin won the race last year with Adayar and they have three in the race this time; Nahanni, Walk Of Stars and Nations Pride.
Nahanni won the Blue Riband Trial around this track in April and hasn’t been spotted since, though he will have improved plenty since then and definitely stays the trip.
Walk Of Stars was beaten in the Derby Trial at Lingfield, but so too was Adayar and this horse is of a similar size and weight to the 2021 hero, though perhaps not improving as quickly in what is a better-looking renewal.
Nations Pride is a different animal all together. Not originally entered, Charlie Appleby’s colt improved after losing out on debut last year to score twice at the back end.
He went to Dubai for the winter and was impressive in winning a conditions race in February, before heading home and taking in the Newmarket Stakes.
In that race, he absolutely smashed it. The son of Teofilo travelled very comfortably, handled the Dip well and stayed balanced, hit the front easily and then pulled away to win by seven lengths, recording an impressive time figure.
He has now been supplemented into this race at a cost of £75,000, is almost guaranteed to stay and could yet prove to be the class horse in the race despite the presence of Desert Crown, who remains second choice.