Yesterday was a very good day with two winners (2/1 Arod and 8/1 Gratzie). On top of that Crowley’s Law was 2nd at 8/1, Lady Of Dubai 3rd at 11/1, Mister Universe 2nd at 11/2 and Make It Up 2nd at 9/2. Fingers crossed you got on most of those!
Whilst reflecting on yesterday a quick word on Qualify, who flew home to win the Oaks. Tony Calvin and Eddie Freemantle put her up as a selection respectively, so fair play to them for finding her. There were form lines however the question mark was her class. In the end she quickened nicely off a slow gallop and fought her way through. She wasn’t one inconvenienced by the scrummaging about 1f out.
The bar was set highly yesterday and I’m aiming to beat it today with a bold bid on a very competitive Derby day at Epsom.
14:00 – Investec Private Banking Stakes
Favourite backers can get off to a good start with Stravagante. He was a distant 3rd to Derby hopeful Jack Hobbs at Sandown last time out but stayed on well in the closing stages to nearly nab 2nd place. That was an encouraging run, as she was hampered on the turn. He has been put up 4lb for that effort and could easily go well here with a strong pace being set up front.
The main danger looks to be Resonant. He made recorded a consecutive win at Goodwood last time out when making all. The Goodwood track isn’t too dissimilar to here at Epsom and the tactics that will be employed are likely to be the same as his two wins – get in front early and get your rivals in trouble. It has worked the last twice and there were lots to like, however I think he could be vulnerable to a lesser-exposed type.
Mezajy looks to have a nice each-way chance in this race too. He is unexposed at this trip but looks beautifully bred with stamina and some speed. His one career win, from five starts, came here at the track over a mile and course experience is something that I look for, especially around here. His form doesn’t look the strongest but he looks fairly treated off a mark of 82. His strongest form was when 4th in a Maiden at Newcastle, won by Stravagante. The 2nd Puissant went on to win next time out while the 3rd Keble has finished 2nd on his next two starts. The 5th Murgan has got better with experience and the step-up in trip. There are positives for him and with his pedigree the step-up in trip should suit, so may be worth chancing.
Dutch Uncle is one to take seriously after two good efforts at Doncaster and Newbury in Handicaps at t his trip. Both races look to be of a good standard, so he is in with a chance. Cymro is one that deserves some attention. He had been knocking on the door in Maiden company as a juvenile before final winning one at Chester. That day he overturned the 1/6 favourite in Sir Isaac Newton, who has since won a Maiden (not the strongest) at Gowran Park.
Advice: Stravagante (5/2 win)
Mezajy (12/1 each-way)
14:35 – Woodcote Stakes
The front three in the market are all quite closely matched in the betting. Buratino has ran four times and is the most exposed of this field but you can see why he is close to heading the market. He won on debut at Chelmsford before finishing 3rd at Ascot behind the impressive Log Out Island. He was stepped up to this 6f trip at Newmarket, in which he saw of his three rivals but acted green. He raced in the National Stakes at Sandown nine days ago and was 2nd to Royal Ascot bound King Of Rooks. In that run he was slow away and stayed on strongly. That on top of trip experience should see him go fairly close.
His stablemate Aleko looks to be one of his main rivals. He won at Haydock on debut, which is no surprise considering Mark Johnston’s two-year-olds are ready first time and fairly straight forward. It was a good run to make all and you would expect similar tactics to be employed by Adam Kirby and William Buick. Nelspruit for the Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes combination won over 5f at Goodwood on his second start after a 2nd to Qeyaadah at Newbury over this 6f trip. Neither of those races looked to have particularly strong form from the horses that had reappeared. On his debut he led but found no extra and was headed by Qeyaadah. Trainer Richard Hannon thinks he needs 7f to be seen to his best and the next opportunity for that is at Royal Ascot.
Just Emma is a massive price. Her two starts have been round Brighton, which is quite an idiosyncratic track. She won a four-runner maiden there on her second start, which the 2nd horse in that race Fast Gold went on to win next time out. Miss Moneypenny has had two starts and was 3rd and 1st. She stayed on well at Windsor to win suggesting this trip should suit plus the 3rd from that race Bournemouth Belle won next time out while the 4th went on to finish 2nd on there second start.
Advice: Buratino (4/1 win)
15:10 – Coronation Cup
This race looks like one where the French raiders in Dolniya and Flintshire will take some beating. The Coronation Cup looks to be heading to their shores for a second year running after Cirrus Des Aigles won this race last year.
Dolniya won the Sheema Classic Group 1 over at Meydan in March beating Flintshire by 2¼l; Sheikhzayedroad was back in 5th that night. That run reversed the form of the Arc run in October when Dolniya was 5th and Flintshire was 2nd. However on both starts this season Dolniya has beaten Flintshire and despite being a little worse off in the weights today she is one on the up. Personally I can’t see her being beaten.
Six 2nd place finishes in eight runs for Flintshire. Lots of those are in Group 1 races too, including in this race last year. He has course experience and form, wit that 2nd, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Andre Fabre’s charge was to take home the glory. He won the Hong Kong Vase in December and is weighted here quite closely to the selection, so expect a tight race finish.
From a tactical point of view Romsdal is likely to go off in front with Pether’s Moon chasing. These were 3rd and 2nd behind Arab Spring respectively when they met at Newbury in the John Porter Stakes. That could easily set I up for one of the French closers.
However if you were looking for something to take the French duo on with then Sheikhzayedroad could be the one. He won a Handicap here in June 2013, so has course form and has improved to bigger and better things. He won the Fred Archer at Newmarket, Group 2 York Stakes, beating Secret Gesture, and a Woodbine Group 1 race. He raced in Meydan in March finishing 2nd to Sky Hunter in a Group 2 before finishing 5th, as mentioned when behind the French pair.
Advice: Dolniya (10/11 win)
Dolniya/Flintshire (Reverse forecast)
15:45 – Investec Dash
20-runners going hell-for-leather down the Epsom track and there will be no prisoners taken. We have returning winners of the past two renewals in Caspian Prince and Duke Of Firenze, while Seeking Magic will be hoping to go one place better than last year.
My two against the field are:
Normal Equilibrium ended up finishing ninth at York last week when he was a selection. He was only beaten by 3½l in the end. The difference between the races is that he’ll prefer a really strong test of speed set up front and today he is likely to get that. He isn’t out of form by any means. He won on his seasonal reappearance at Chelmsford off 92. He then finished good 2nds to Robot Boy and Slivanus at Chester and Newbury respectively. Here today Edward Greatrex takes the ride claiming 7lb, which takes him back to his last winning mark. The jockey also has a winner here yesterday in the terms of Elbreth and that was his first ride at the track. Stall eight isn’t too bad a draw however you may want to be slightly higher.
Humidor was a good 3rd on his seasonal reappearance at Nottingham on soft ground. Off the same mark next time out he won at the Goodwood seeing of a few of these rivals today. He went up 4lb for that and disappointed last time out over 6f, so the step back down to the minimum sprint trip should suit. He won here back in August last year however that race will only go down as a ‘V’ in the record books as the stewards declared a false start after the race was ran. He was 3rd to Muthmir at Doncaster in the Portland Handicap where he stayed on well. He’s a big price and for me could run a big race. Drawn in 12 gives him the choice of which side of track is better to run down.
Of course all need look in running and you can put forward an argument for many of these. Monumental Man won here in April quite cosily. However put up 12lb for that effort may be severe and on top of that he isn’t ideally drawn in stall three. He does have two track and trip wins to his name but this is very much more difficult than those efforts, especially considering the treatment of the handicapper and the draw. Seeking Magic is back to his last winning mark of 93 and has been placed off two starts here from three visits. Not too badly drawn but can’t be having him as the favourite. Duke Of Firenze looks to need some juice in the ground.
Paul Midgley’s sprinters are going well. Monsieur Joe won at York last Saturday and carries a penalty here while his ten-year-old stablemate Silvanus is off a career-high mark. However don’t let that put you off. He was a good 7th in a good standard of race at Thirsk last time out. He has the best draw from stall 20 and made all to win at Chester two starts ago beating one of the selections in Normal Equilibrium. If he jumps well today under Richard Hughes he could be very difficult to beat.
Of the rest Perfect Muse is the most interesting. Quite a lightly raced five-year-old and was a good 3rd on his reappearance behind Humidor at Goodwood. He could still be a progressive type and despite the 10lb since his success three starts ago could have things in his favour. He ran a solid race behind Doc Hay at Pontefract to end last season. Today he has talented 3lb claimer Cam Hardie taking the ride plus a good draw from stall 16. If the markets are to be believed he could be the one that attracts the support for this race.
Advice: Normal Equilibrium (16/1 each-way)
Humidor (22/1 each-way)
16:30 – The Derby
Last year we had Australia unfortunately this year the quality looks a little thin on the ground. The Dante form looks the strongest from all the trials and I would expect that to come to the fore this afternoon.
But in all honesty I’m not sure how. Golden Horn won the Dante decisively however his owner and breeder doesn’t think he’ll stay the trip. There isn’t much in his pedigree to suggest he will. He showed a blistering turn of foot and came down the stands side at York to win but at a more testing track as this on top of his short price he could be vulnerable.
Jack Hobbs won impressively at Sandown before being turned over by stablemate Golden Horn in the Dante. At York he looked rather green and all in all that probably cost him his chances. He has more in his pedigree to suggest he can step up to this trip with the dam’s side having form over this trip. He looks the most likely of the pair to give John Gosden his second Derby winner and end Aidan O’Brien’s three-year dominance.
O’Brien has three runners starting with Giovanni Canaletto, who is a brother to 2013 Derby winner Ruler Of The World. He has a nice pedigree and the stamina is there. The question mark for me is quality. He has been nibbled at during the week with Ryan Moore taking the ride. There are ticks in boxes but just isn’t one for me.
The other two O’Brien runners are Hans Holbein and Kilimanjaro. The former won the Chester Vase when making all but need rain to be in with a chance while Kilimanjaro is possibly there best chance. He is from 2002 Derby winner High Chaparral and looks to be an improving sort. He won a Derby trial at Lingfield in a small field, but it wasn’t the strong and how much to read into that is unknown. He does need to find a lot more to go close.
Storm The Stars is where I would be looking for the each-way value. He may not be good enough in the end to win but he’ll give you a good run for your money. He was 2nd behind Hans Holbein in the Chester Vase however he didn’t have an easy time. He was unbalanced in running and to get as close as he did was a good effort in the end. He is an improving type, which he should when winning at Goodwood last time out in the Cocked Hat Stakes. He stayed on well and again may not have handled the track but still won suggesting there is some quality there. This isn’t the greatest Derby renewal, so it may be worth siding with the beautifully bred son of Sea The Stars.
Success Days and Elm Park may both require cut in the ground. On top of that Success Days won’t be able to get an easy lead as he has in recent races when completing the three-timer. While the Andrew Balding horse could well be on for later in the season but a replication of the Dante 3rd will see him close.
Advice: Jack Hobbs (5/1 each-way )
Storm The Stars (20/1 each-way)
17:15 – Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap
This is another 20-runner field going for this 1m4f contest and it’s wide-open. Oasis Fantasy currently heads the market and has progressed with every run this season. His last two efforts have been to a good standard. He has been 3rd to Penhill at Ascot and 2nd to Quest For More at Goodwood last time out. His mark keeps going up and does without winning, which is a worry and that’s why I’m looking elsewhere.
Buthelezi was a selection in the Chester Cup when finishing 7th of 17. It was a good run after leading and setting a moderate gallop. The tank emptied in the final few furlongs and he didn’t stay on but that was over 2m2f. Over today’s trip he could make the most of the lead, if he can get there from stall seven. He won the Balmoral Cup at Thirsk when making all. That form looks quite strong considering the 3rd, 4th and 8th won or improved next time out. If Ben Curtis can get him out in front from the start then over this trip and track he could be one to side with at a nice price.
The other pick in this race would be Barwick. He has had three starts at this track and has placed twice and won once. He has gone up 4lb for his reappearance, which was a 3rd here to Lungarno Palace. That day he stayed on strongly cutting the winning distance towards the finish. If he hadn’t started slowly he may have been closer. Drawn in stall four should see him settled in midfield, which should suit him. He acts on grounds and has the course form and experience.
Lungarno Palace as mentioned above won here two starts ago. From stall 20 he can be prominent and track the leaders, which is something that should suit. However he disappointed last time out at Newmarket but in a good standard of race. He was placed on his other start at the course. Jakey was 2nd to him here last time out and looks to need more to reverse those placings. Gothic for Sir Michael Stoute has been hit or miss. For me this isn’t his ideal trip, so may struggle. However on Saturday’s Ryan Moore has been banging in the winners.
Of the rest Highland Castle won last time out and went up 8lb for his win over 1m6f. Tim Clark offsets 5lb of that and the horse is dropped in trip, this could be a strongly ran race, which could play into his hands. His draw in the middle is ideal for him to be held-up. He could be a major player. Early money this morning is coming for Montaly, in first time hood, and Big Thunder.
Advice: Buthelezi (18/1 each-way)
Barwick (12/1 each-way)
17:50 – Investec Asset Management Stakes
This isn’t a race where I’m too keen on much in it. Asphan Sam won this race last year but has shown little since. His mark is dropping and is 3lb since last year’s win however none of his recent runs have inspired.
Iseemist would be a tentative each-way selection. Her last win was here in July off a mark of 79. She went up 6lb for that effort and has ran respectively since on a range of ground. Today she runs off 82, which seems fair and is likely to go well from it today. The draw suggests it may be better to be high but in 14-runner races over this distance there is evidence a low draw is better suited. Therefore a draw in stall four wouldn’t be too bad.
Swiss Cross won this race in 2011 and was runner-up last year. He is now 4lb since that 2nd and has good form at the track. This eight-year-old is likely to go close again. David O’Meara is a trainer in a bit of form and teams up with Ryan Moore with Pearl Blue. He is one that stays one strongly towards the finish and isn’t badly treated. However the drying ground could be against him. Hopes N Dreams could have the ground against him too, as could the draw. If he can get out in front and in cheekpieces he could be difficult to catch. Major Crispies is a bigger price but wasn’t great just five days ago at Windsor. Pat Cosgrave is a jockey in form and the drying ground should suit the horse but can be one to dwell out of the stalls.
Advice: Iseemist (12/1 each-way)
23:50 – Belmont Stakes
It is worth mentioning that tonight we could see American Pharoah complete the ‘Triple Crown’. He could become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to complete the feat, however this is the race that we see the chances blown, just take a look at last year with California Chrome.
When you compare him to California Chrome, for me he is better. On top of that he doesn’t have the same sort of opposition as California Chrome faced last year. So despite history being against him, he does have a fantastic chance. He easily won the Preakness Stakes last time out in dreadful conditions and previously won the Kentucky Derby.
Of his rivals Frosted has just over three lengths to find after finishing 4th in the Kentucky Derby, while Materiality was over seven lengths behind in 6th. They look to be his main rivals but have a lot to find. Madefromlucky has course form but doesn’t look to be bred for this trip.