Friday, 2 June 2023

Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd June 2023: Military the Order of the Day in Derby

It’s a Classic weekend at Epsom as the Oaks and the Derby take place. We have info for those and plenty of other races besides.

Friday 2nd June 2023

2.00 Epsom (Woodcote Stakes – Conditions Race) – BALON D’OR

Hugo Palmer’s Balon D’Or made what I consider to be the best debut of this bunch. Considering that it was on softer going and way back in April there should also be more improvement to come from him.

He’s well drawn, which some of the principals in this race aren’t, and he has experience having gone to Chester for the Lily Agnes which was run on very bad ground. Haatem is most likely the main danger.

3.10 Epsom (Coronation Cup – Group 1) – HURRICANE LANE

There are just the five runners for this year’s Coronation Cup, but it remains a most fascinating and high-class contest.

I can’t understand Point Lonsdale challenging the big three in the market at all and Aidan O’Brien will have to work some magic on him, which of course he could, while there ground concerns for the German-trained Tunnes.

The 2021 and 2022 Derby form is represented, alongside last year’s Oaks form. Westover is very good and has strong course form but it could be argued that he has slightly plateaued. If that’s true, then he is behind Emily Upjohn and Hurricane Lane for me.

The former was unlucky in the Oaks and has been excellent since. If she’s ready for this, her 3lb allowance gives her serious claims.

As long as the ground doesn’t also jar Hurricane Lane up, then the multiple Group 1 winner, Arc and Derby third remains the class in this race and can be backed. He was right back to form last time and can even step up a gear.

3.45 Epsom (Handicap) – HONITON

A horse that for a long time has threatened big things won for us last time and he can go in again. Honiton has not stopped improving yet and he looks well treated for at least one more handicap win. Marhaba The Champ and Toshizou are next.

4.30 Epsom (The Oaks – Group 1) – SOUL SISTER & ETERNAL HOPE

Another fascinating Oaks, a race in which they really have to stay well.

While hot favourite Savethelastdance saw out 1m3½f on soft ground at Chester, it was perhaps the ground beating the others that made her 22-length win look so impressive. Here, she’ll need to see out this course and that is tough. Plenty of Cheshire Oaks winners have gone backwards on their next start too.

Soul Sister saw things out well in the Musidora and is by Frankel who has Oaks and St Leger winners to his name, so there are few worries about her and her form is outstanding.

Stablemate Running Lion doesn’t really have this trip in her pedigree and while she won well last time, she’s had a few more chances than many others and may not improve as much.

Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Eternal Hope remains of interest. Her breeding doesn’t scream Oaks either, but she saw out the full mile and a half at Lingfield and looks like she’ll relish this. There is lots of improvement to come from her, which she’ll need.

Soul Sister and Eternal Hope are about proven form and potential respectively. At the time of writing, their prices are 9/4 and 12/1. The suggestion is to dutch your stakes, meaning spending £20 in total would mean backing them to £16 and £4.

5.40 Doncaster (Novice Stakes) – EMBESTO

31 days ago, debut winner Embesto scored by six lengths at Yarmouth, running to a mark of approximately 100-105. That is some level for a debutant and it would be a big surprise if he were not to go in again on good ground at a fair track.

6.45 Doncaster (Handicap) – EDUCATOR

William Haggas’ Educator held some high-class form last spring and much has been expected since. While he hasn’t always delivered, this should be his year. He can come out fighting now ahead of Aimeric and Wor Willie.

Saturday 3rd June 2023

12.50 Epsom (Diomed Stakes – Group 3) – HIGHLAND AVENUE

Three-year-old Kolsai may just struggle, while Regal Reality and Escobar have been around the block. Highland Avenue has plenty of class however and still has his best days ahead.

1.30 Epsom (The Derby – Group 1) – MILITARY ORDER

This should prove to be quite a deep Derby and strong money will be around for several horses.

Arrest was impressive at Chester but didn’t improve a whole lot from his Group 1 second to Dubai Mile in France last autumn. Both horses are solid with the quicker ground a concern.

Auguste Rodin went off a hot favourite for the 2000 Guineas but flopped. It’s hard to come back from that, but he did win the Group 1 Futurity Trophy last year. The Coolmore team is desperate for a Deep Impact to win the Derby but this horse is not guaranteed to flourish here and is way too short.

Sprewell was impressive in his trial in Ireland, but he isn’t bred to stay this far in truth while he is also another soft ground winner that we can’t be sure about.

As ever, the Dante form should be looked at closely. Passenger was an unlucky loser in that, maybe, and he has been supplemented for this. He, White Birch and The Foxes are all solid but that wasn’t a brilliant Dante and it leaves them all vulnerable.

That brings in Military Order, the Lingfield Derby Trial winner. For a big and inexperienced horse, he showed nimble footing there to nip through a gap and put his race to bed. When runner-up Waipiro challenged, he pulled out more and will love Epsom.

Military Order is a full brother to 2021 winner Adayar and they are at a scarily similar level at this stage of their respective careers. On top of that, Charlie Appleby says he mentally and physically a little sharper than his brother too.

2.10 Epsom (Princess Elizabeth Stakes – Group 3) – POTAPOVA

Potapova was runner-up in this race last year and she went on to land a Group 3. She pulled up last time with an irregular heartbeat but assuming she’s fully back, she can be too good for Prosperous Voyage, Roman Mist and Shaara.

3.20 Epsom (Epsom Dash – Heritage Handicap) – CLARENDON HOUSE

Robert Cowell is excellent with sprinters. His Clarendon House is definitely classier than the 100 mark he gets into this race off, he’s fast enough to cope and he could be too hot. Look Out Louis could be the one to follow him home.

3.55 Epsom (Lester Piggott Handicap) – TORITO

John & Thady Gosden’s Torito, second in a classy novice last time, is improving nicely and comes into this very well handicapped. He can get home ahead of Balance Play and last-time-out winner Fox Journey.

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