The first of two cracking days racing at Epsom with two Group Ones on Friday’s card with the Oaks set to be run at 16:30 (as long as those pesky Animal Rising protestors don’t have a say) and the Coronation Cup at 15:10. The ITV cameras are there for the first five races with the ground likely to ride good although the course has been very well watered in the last week. Here are my horse racing tips for this Friday’s action.
We start the two-day Derby fixture with the 6F Woodcote Stakes for two-year-olds. With the race on the turning track, it’s advantageous to be drawn low although a look back to last year’s race shows you can be competitive from a high draw.
Richard Hannon has a solid record in this race and saddles two interesting runners in Haatem who impressed when winning at Bath last time and can be competitive although my preference is for The Camden Colt who will be ridden by Ryan Moore. He made all when winning at Haydock on the fast ground eight days ago and if he can get over from stall 7 appears to hold every chance.
The form of both Balon D’Or and Bobsleigh has been let down whilst Yorkshire Terrier would have been high on my shortlist but for his draw position of 12 of 12. He’s made all to win two all-weather races and with Oisin Murphy on top can run well if overcoming that coffin box.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Craig Lidster, who is an underrated trainer, and his Land Lover runs very well from stall 1. He wasn’t disgraced when 4th (beaten 4 1/2L) on his racecourse debut at York in a £15k race and with improvement likely and a nice draw is worth a small each-way saver with the main bet being The Camden Colt under Ryan Moore.
THE CAMDEN COLT 1 point each way @ 5/1 with Bet365 bonus code (Paying 4 places at 1/5 odds)
LAND LOVER 1/2 point each way @ 12/1 with Bet365 (Paying 4 places at 1/5 odds)
A competitive 13-runner 1M 113-yard class 2 handicap is up next with the David O’Meara-trained Rhoscolyn, owned by The Horse Watchers, a very interesting contender. He’s been dropped another couple of pounds putting him 8lb lower than when running third at Royal Ascot last year and showed enough last time out to suggest his time is near.
The George Boughey-trained All The Kings Men is tried in first-time blinkers and going up in trip which may well suit this William Buick-ridden five-year-old.
Charlie Johnstone saddles two with claims in Dutch Decoy (ridden by Neil Callan) who’s dropped below his last winning mark and Austrian Theory (Joe Fanning) who’s also dropped to a winning mark and showed enough last time to suggest he can run well. His latest win came at Hamilton a year ago when defeating Ghaly (who’s won both his races since and is now 13lb higher) and can go close.
The ground isn’t soft enough for Hodler whilst top-weight Revich who comes here following a recent win at Chester was runner-up in this race last year but is up 6lb for Chester which puts him on his highest-ever handicap mark. He should run well nonetheless.
A tricky race which I’ve narrowed down to Rhoscolyn and Austrian Theory with the latter having the call.
AUSTRIAN THEORY 1 point each way @ 9/1 with Bet365 (Paying 4 places at 1/5 odds)
A cracking renewal of the Group 1 Coronation Cup run over the Derby distance of 1M 4F and featuring four Group one winners with the odd one out the Aidan O’Brien-trained Point Lonsdale who arrives in top form having won both of his starts since a break including last time out at Chester in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes who can’t be dismissed either.
John and Thady Gosden’s smart filly Emily Upjohn makes her reappearance after apparently coming to hand slowly. She was an unlucky loser of last year’s Oaks on this day and ended last season winning the Group 1 Champion Fillies & Mares at Ascot. She’s smart and can be competitive as long as she doesn’t pull too hard.
Last year’s Derby 3rd (and possibly unlucky not to get closer having had a poor run in the race) and Irish Derby winner Westover is the most likely winner to my eyes and certainly wasn’t disgraced when runner-up to the very smart Equinox in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March. Ralph Beckett’s four-year-old will be ridden by Rob Hornby who will feel he has unfinished business after last year’s unlucky passage in the Derby and can take the spoils.
Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane shouldn’t be dismissed as a classic winner (St Leger from 2021) and impressed last time when bouncing back from a poor run at Newbury but I must admit I am a bit concerned with the form of some of the stable who certainly aren’t firing on all cylinders with just the 4 winners from their last 33 runners going into Thursday.
The fifth member of the field is the German-trained Tunnes who was a very easy winner of the German St Leger and a Group 1 last Autumn by 8L and 10L respectively although both wins came on very soft ground so for that reason alone is passed over here on today’s sounder surface.
WESTOVER 2 points win @ 2/1 with Bet365
A valuable class 2 handicap for four-year-olds and upwards, run over 10F has attracted a field of ten which gives it a good each-way feel with some firms paying four places.
John & Thady Gosden’s Honiton proved he was better than his seasonal re-appearance (when hating the soft ground) at Goodwood when pushed out to win by 1 1/4L at Newmarket on much better ground a fortnight later under today’s pilot James Doyle though has been raised 4lb for that win and is drawn out wide. He has every chance and has to be on anyone’s shortlist.
Back in fourth that day at Newmarket was William Knight’s Dual Identity who was visibly dropped out the back from the start by Jamie Spencer and made up ground to finish 2 1/2L behind Honiton and with a one-pound drop is now 5lb better off and with a more positive ride from Neil Callan from an inside berth can make up the deficit on the Gosden horse and looks great each-way value.
A big outsider who is worth keeping an eye on is the Richard Spencer-trained The City’s Phantom who may have needed his seasonal re-appearance when friendless in the market going off at 66/1 and running accordingly. He’s better than that and having been dropped 3lb finds himself on the same mark as when a 6L winner at Yarmouth 14 months ago.
Top weight Savvy Victory arrives in good form under Ryan Moore although this will be his highest-ever mark whilst Bad Company (5th last year) needs softer conditions.
Kevin Ryan’s Marhaba The Champ won a similar handicap on his seasonal re-appearance at York’s Dante meeting (his first since wind surgery) and with only a 2lb rise is another with claims although they did all finish in a bit of a heap that day with one of today’s rivals Majestic only a length behind and 2lb better off.
A tight handicap but I feel that Dual Identity is building up to something and should be backed each way with firms paying that fourth place although it has to be noted that Knight is looking for his first winner for 119 days and 36 runs although he has a couple of runner ups in his last five runners so hopefully his turn is near.
DUAL IDENTITY 1 point each way @ 8/1 (Paying 4 places at 1/5 odds)
Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have won the last nine renewals of the Oaks between them and it will be a shock if the prize doesn’t go their way again in this year’s renewal. Here’s my horse-by-horse Betfred Epsom Oaks tips guide to the day’s feature race to beat the bookies.
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.
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