It being Oaks and Derby weekend at Epsom I am going up nice and early with my thoughts as I am here, there, and everywhere as you might expect. Prices are all best price guaranteed. My cousins Lesley and Dave make their first visit to the meeting on Saturday; hopefully, they will bring us a bit of luck. If you bump into a gang of boozed-up Essex types it will probably be them and their crowd – my advice would be to steer clear.
Epsom's two-day Investec Derby Festival meeting, to give it its full title, gets underway on Friday and The Oaks is the main event. It has been a largely dry week and with temperatures set to be in the mid 20’s on Friday and Saturday the going is on the faster side of good.
Triple G favourite Kew Gardens is the sole entry for Aidan O'Brien as he looks to secure a ninth win in the 1m4f Group One Coronation Cup at 3.10. The St Leger winner was beaten into second in the 1m5½f G.3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester on his seasonal reappearance giving the winner 4lb. I think he was given quite a bit to do there by Ryan Moore, the winner was on the pace, and I am not convinced the tight nature of the track suited him. The trainer doesn’t seem that concerned either. O'Brien said back last week "We just needed to test him on the left-handed track after the disappointment in the Derby at Epsom last year. I've been very happy with him and he will go for the Coronation Cup." I am on at 2-1. Kew Gardens, of course, won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and the Grand Prix de Paris last summer before claiming St Leger glory with victory over the re-opposing John Gosden-trained Lah Ti Dar. Old Persian had a great winter in Dubai and is feared.
For the Oaks at 4.30 over the 1m4f, I am of course on Frankellina each-way at 33-1. I have spoken of her a lot on the Classics page and fingers crossed she can show just how good she is on only her third start. I honestly think the trip and a bit of a battle might suit her as she does look a nice strong filly. The wins for Pink Dogwood and Mehdaayih in their respective warm-up races were impressive on the eye but I am not sure if they actually beat much; if they were trained by lesser lights I think they would be bigger prices. I could be proved wrong but I am happy enough with my bet.
Space Blues got his head back in front dropping to 7f last time at York and the chestnut colt will be backed in the 7f Listed Surrey Stakes at 5.15. He had to negotiate a way around about 8 others to get up that day and could have a fair bit more in the locker. I think Charlie Appleby and the team have worked out his optimum trip now and have taken a bit of the bottle 2-1.
As for Saturday, the Derby I have looked at on its own separate post, but my other fancies on the day follow:
At 2.35 it is the 1m½f Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Nyaleti hasn’t actually won since this time last year but she has been in with some pretty good’uns and probably found the 1m2½f of the G.2 Middleton Stakes last time a bit of a stretch. She gets a very handy 3lb from the jolly Veracious who she was of course in front of when they finished 2nd and 4th respectively in the G.2 Dahlia Stakes at the start of the month. At 9-2 I am hopeful she can get back to winning ways.
It’s the same 1m½f trip for the Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes at 3.10. As a three-year-old Bye Bye Hong Kong gets 12lb weight-for-age here and that may prove significant. He has been coming along nicely and showed a good attitude to win a Listed race at Windsor last time. I think 11-4 is quite big and have happily taken it. Zaaki beat a ring rusty Barney Roy at Ascot but it is a big ask to give the selection 12lb!
And finally, Sunday when out in France we have the Group One Qipco Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. I thought Line Of Duty might cross the Channel for the 1m2f option of the French Derby and likely slightly easier ground rather than racing at Epsom but he doesn’t. Godolphin rely on the Andre Fabre trained Persian King, last seen winning the G.1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains. He is strongly fancied which is why he is 11-8; the wide draw aint great but he has looked a bit special.