Tag Archives: Epsom Downs

The Oaks (Group 1)

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Flattering on her way down to post for the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and John Walton.

A field of nine remain to contest this years Oaks, four from England and five from Ballydoyle. Godolphin’s leads the home challenge with Wild Illusion who is favourite.

She beat Willie Haggas’s Give And Take on debut last year in a Novice Stakes at Yarmouth in August. A trip to Paris in September followed where she was beaten at G2 level in the Prix d’Aumale but that was put right in a follow up visit on Arc day when she won the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac from Polydream and Mission Impassible. Magical, a late withdrawal here, was 1 3/4L back in fourth.

The form of the Prix Marcel Boussac isn’t looking great as Mission Impassible and Polydream both ran no sort of race when trailing in last and second last in the French Guineas a few weeks ago and prior to that in April Mission Impassable had also been beaten in the Prix de la Grotte.

This year Charlie Appleby sent Wild Illusion straight to the 1000 Guineas where she ran fourth 2 3/4L behind the winner Billesdon Brook. Laurens who was second at Newmarket has since put a shine on the form when going on to win the Prix Saint-Alary, a G1 over 10f at Longchamp. Happily third at Newmarket filled the same spot at the Curragh on Sunday in the Irish 1000 Guineas so the Godlphin filly’s form largely stands up.

Clive Cox’s Perfect Clarity is unbeaten in two run’s, one as a juvenile where she won a Novice Stakes at Nottingham and this year in her second run she won The Lingfield Oaks Trial under a hands and heels ride from Adam Kirby who had dropped his whip. Flattering was 3 1/2L behind in third.

Willie Haggas withdrew See Of Class from the race and now relies on Give And Take. She followed up her second to Wild Illusion last year with a Novice Stakes win at Lingfield and was then put away for the season. On return this year she ran second in another Novice Stakes at Sandown and then progressed from there to win The Musidora at York where she had David Simcock’s Ejtyah 2 1/2L back in third. Ejtyah won a Novice Stakes at Chelmsford Christmas week on her debut, her only previous racecourse appearance.

It might be the Dermot Weld filly Jaega (doesn’t run here) who holds the key to the Ballydoyle team. In April Jaega won a maiden at Leopardstown beating Samasthit 6 1/2L with Magic Wand a nose behind in third. In May Flattering beat Samasthit 10L in a Cork maiden and a few days later at the Curragh in the Blue Wind Stakes Bye Bye Baby beat Jaega 2L.

That would mean the pecking order of the Ballydoyle fillies gives Flattering an edge over Bye Bye Baby. Magic Wand is third in order though on jockey bookings she’s first being the choice of Ryan Moore. Ryan choose her on the back of her Cheshire Oaks win at Chester where she beat her stablemate Forever Together 3 1/2L who ranks fourth in order on the Jagea form line.

It’s hardly a secret that the Ballydoyle fillies can step up and win when their previous form doesn’t entitle them to do so. Aidan trains then from race to race relying on the engine within that comes from their breeding in the purple. Magic Wand’s win at Chester is testament to that.

I Can Fly makes up the quintet and she was tried in the Guineas where she was well beaten. No doubt Aidan had a view to this race in mind. Her race record would suggest she has it all to do yet she can’t be ruled out.

Wild Illusion has the best overall form but there is an if. Will she stay? The ground is the other worry. She should handle it as it was soft in France for the Boussac. Perfect Clarity has no concerns on the trip but will she handle the surface having encountered only good or fast conditions. Give And Take should handle an ease and get the trip as should Ejtyah but are either good enough. Of the Irish Bye Bye Baby ticks the boxes on the ground and trip as does Flattering but there are concerns for the other three over either ground or trip.

The Oaks is always a puzzle, until it’s run. It can produce greatness, Enable (2017), Minding (2016), Taghrooda (2014) but it’s also well capable of shocks. Was (2012) was a 20/1 winner and Qualify (2015) was returned at 50/1. Those  two shocks were provided by Ballydoyle.

Given the Ballydoyle pecking order courtesy of Jaega and the doubt about the favourite Wild Illusion staying then it may be worth trusting the Jaega form line and backing Padraig Beggy and his mount Flattering to win a second classic for him here at Epsom, one to add to his Derby win on Wings Of Eagles last year. Another shock at 40/1 trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Recommendation: Flattering 25/1 ew




The Derby (Group 1)

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Epsom today. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

On a grey day today victory in the Oaks went to Frankie Dettori. It will surely ignite the Derby tomorrow and push Cracksman into outright favouritism over Cliffs Of Moher who are joint 4/1 favourites presently.

Cracksman is trained by John Gosden who gave Frankie the leg up on the Oaks winner Enable this afternoon. He is owed by Anthony Oppenhiemer thereby reuniting the same team that was responsible for Golden Horn two years ago. There will be a rage of confidence come post time but will it be justified?

He established his Derby credentials by winning the Investec Derby Trial here a short head from Permian at the end of April. He only had the one run before that when taking a maiden last October at Newmarket. The plan was to run in the Dante but the ground came up soft and John bypassed the race instead giving him a blow out again here at the course at Breakfast For The Stars.

Permian trained by Mark Johnston is available at 10/1. He won the Dante franking the form for Cracksman beating Godolphin’s Benbati. He was building on the success he had at Listed level two weeks earlier at Newmarket, the week after his clash with Cracksman at Epsom. He’s a very different type than Cracksman. He’s improved no end and is typical of a Mark Johnston trained horse. Hard as nails he can take plenty of visits to the track and this will be his eleventh start.

Eminent was fancied for the Guineas on the back of his Craven win. He’d been put away after his two year old winning debut. At Newmarket he ran sixth, he didn’t have the gears to go with the pace over a mile and its questionable being by Frankel if he’ll have the stamina to see out the mile and half here.

There’s not a lot between the Godolphin pair Dubai Thunder and Best Solution in the betting. Both are trading around 12/1 and both are trained by Saeed Bin Suroor. Dubai Thunder is the least experienced runner in the race having only had the one previous outing. He took a Newbury maiden fifteen days ago by 10L blitzing the field. The manner of his victory was highly impressive but what he beat is questionable in terms of this challenge. Lammtarra did win the Derby in 1995 for Godolphin after having just the one run. Incidentally that was at Newbury also. He then went on to run in two more races winning both the King George and Arc. Is Dubai Thunder another Lammtarra?

Best Solution is certainly not but he did come good in the Lingfield Derby Trial where he beat Glencadam Glory by 3 1/2L That was suggestive that his second at Group 1 level last year behind Waidgest in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud was no fluke. If the thunderstorms persist and the rain gets into the ground he’ll no doubt shorten up.

Seven Irish come over.

As well as Cliffs Of Moher Aidan O’Brien sends five more and his son Joseph sends one, Rekindling. He was a surprise winner of the Ballysax Stakes which Harzand won on route to glory last year before running third in the Dante. In the Ballysax he beat his father’s Douglas Macarthur who then went on to win the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown, also won by Harzand before Epsom last year. Capri was a head and a short head back in third. Seamie Heffernan who rides him tomorrow holds the grey in high esteem and the money came for him this week backed in from big prices to 12/1 just like it did for Winter before she won the Guineas.

Venice Beech was in the end a comfortable winner from his stable companion Wings Of Eagles in the Chester Vase with The Anvil staying on to be third . Venice Beech had the run of the race unlike Wings Of Eagles (making his seasonal debut) who had a lot more to do and in the end it was the second horse who looked the more interesting Derby prospect.

Cliffs Of Moher has been favourite since his Dee Stakes win at Chester. He was the talking horse before the race as a hot Derby prospect. He won but in workmanlike fashion. You could see there was an engine there but it wasn’t fully tuned. Tomorrow it will be but will it be good enough to win this Derby?

It’s open, wide open. Cracksman and Cliffs Of Moher haven’t shown a deadly turn of foot yet. The unexposed Dubai Thunder could be anything. Wings Of Eagles has shown a glimpse of potential as did Best Solution. The Guineas is the best trial of all but Churchill isn’t here and Eminent was a fair bit back in sixth. In all the trials have been inconclusive and haven’t produced an outstanding candidate. The Ballsax and the Derrinstown races proved the most reliable last year and they could again be the yardstick.

If so added with the weight of money that came this week the dial points towards another grey day in the shape of Capri.

Recommendation: Capri  14/1 ew