Here we are, the first weekend in June & the Oaks, Derby & Prix Du Jockey Club are upon us.
I always mention this, sadly it fails to sink in OR nobody cares & they really are lazy… The Derby is at Epsom, it’s NOT the Epsom Derby as some people keep referring to it as. The Guineas is at Newmarket, not the Newmarket Guineas, or the Doncaster St Leger, it’s just the St Leger! ( It’s like calling the FA Cup, the Wembley Cup…. Which is also on Saturday!)
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This is a rolling blog, which will be updated & retweeted daily, so you all can keep up to date with things. Jamie has an Oaks & Derby selection, while Neil will pop in on Saturday. Rich will have Epsom (Both days) & Chantilly(Sunday) covered, so let’s get cracking…
The going currently at Epsom is – Good, Good to Firm in Places
Epsom (Friday) –
4:30 – Oaks (G1)
Selection: Running Lion
The finest three year old Fillies in Europe do battle across the helter-skelter Epsom Downs. I always look for horses who are straightforward and uncomplicated as they are more likely to handle the course and the big atmosphere on the Downs. Running Lion ticks those boxes in my mind and plenty more. The daughter of the late Roaring Lion enjoyed a fine but low key Juvenile campaign with two wins from three starts in Novice Stakes company. She opened up her 2023 season with a Class 2 Conditions Stakes victory at Kempton, aptly running on well to score. Then came her Oaks prep in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket, where she made stylish progress from midfield to run out an easy winner, I have to say I was impressed. Ground on the tight side of good should be okay and I think 6/1 is very generous odds indeed. She looks certain to give her running. WITHDRAWN
2.00 – Woodcote Stakes – Class 2 – 2yo Only – 6f 3yds…
Valour and Swagger – Blue Point X Music Chart colt.
Made a winning debut at Windsor on April 17th, when beating a field of 3 by 6 & 1/2 lengths on soft ground in a Class 5 5f Novice Stakes. Finished a 1 length runner up on May 13th at Ascot, in a Class 3 5f Novice Stakes, again on soft ground. Steps up in trip – Each Way – 10th..
4.30 Oaks – Fillies’ Group 1 – 3yo Only – 1m 4f 6yds…
Eternal Flame – Teofilo X Voice of Truth filly
3 runs to date, all on the All Weather. The filly made her debut at Wolves in a 1m 1f 109yd Class 4 Novice Stakes, finishing 3rd of 7 by 1 length from Crack of Light on February 13th, she ran again 12 days later (25th February) at Chelmsford in a 1m 2f class 4 Maiden, winning this time by 1 & 1/2 lengths. Given a 77 day break before returning at Lingfield in the 1m 4f Oaks Trial, which was held on the All Weather track, due to a Waterlogged Turf course. The filly beat Be Happy by 1 & 3/4 lengths & if she can transfer the AW form to the turf, she could be hard to beat … 7th, stopped very quickly
The DANGER is obviously Savethelastdance (According to the bookies), who won the Cheshire Oaks by 22 lengths on soft ground but i am more taken by another AOB trained filly, Be Happy, who was 2nd to Eternal Flame & could be the improver at a tasty each way price! NON RUNNER
The going at Epsom is Good to Firm…
1:30 – The Derby (G1)
The ultimate prize in British flat racing and the race that the thoroughbred depends on. As it has been for the last couple of years this is a wide open Derby with runners whom you could all give some sort of a chance too. Despite a poor run in the 2000 Guineas I am still keeping the faith with Auguste Rodin. Now, there was a lot of talk heading into the Guineas that this could be the type of horse to attempt the Triple Crown, considering what he achieved as a 2YO. Sadly that dream was over a long way out in the Guineas as Auguste Rodin suffered interference 6F out and soon it was apparent that he was never travelling, finishing 22 lengths behind Chaldean. We saw last weekend that Aidan can get horses such as Little Big Bear & Luxembourg back to top form after a bad performance on their previous runs. I think Auguste Rodin may just be the best horse in the race and the step up to 1m 4f will likely bring out the best in him considering his pedigree (Deep Impact x Rhododendron). The team at Ballydoyle seem to be happy with how he has been going at home. Like many, I think White Birch could be the each way play up in trip… WINNER & 3RD
Neil – Has 2 today – 1 at Epsom & 1 at Hexham
1.30 Epsom, Betfred Derby, 1m 4f, 3yo.
For the first time in many a year the build up and interest in the blue ribband of the turf has been bigger than ever.
This has been due to a few points of interest, first up the off time of 1.30pm, some three hours earlier than it’s normal off time due to ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup Final which was moved back to a 3pm kick off due to police advice and the other matter being some pink t shirt wearing vegans who plan to protest and cause a rumpus, hopefully all will be ok on that front.
As for the race it looks an absolutely wide open renewal for the class of 2023, I’ll be honest I think getting the Grand National winner was far easier!
A lot of the trials were run on soft ground, some on the sand and others on good and with the forecast for a dry day means that Epsom will be very quick for Derby.
Plenty horses stand out here, I was at Chester for the Dee Stakes and was impressed with the Aidan O’Brien trained San Antonio has he dug in deep for what were very tough conditions and he is one of many for the Ballydoyle maestro.
Frankie who seems to be riding out of his skin in what’s his final Derby ride up to now, has a very good chance on what could be the appropriately named ARREST, but after yesterday’s Oaks, maybe the Chester trials aren’t as strong as we thought on first impression?
Going back through the Dante and one horse who really stands out for each way punters is the John Joseph Murray trained silver shadow, WHITE BIRCH.
This son of Ulysses began his season at Leopardstown in April where he caused a bit of a surprise when landing the Ballysax over 10f at 22-1, he showed that to be no fluke when he finished with a wet sail down the wide outside at York in the Dante and was showing no signs of stopping towards the end and shaped as if the extra two furlongs will suit him.
The Derby is a big ask for any horse but many bubbles will be burst come 1.35 and I can see this one going about his business quietly and hopefully coming from the clouds to surprise people like Eamonn Andrews and Michael Aspel used to do on ITV with the big red book. 3RD
2.55 Hexham, 3yo Hurdle, 3yo.
Just like Epsom this very important 3yo only race is ran on a very undulating uphill and downdale course although the stud fees for the winner won’t be offered due to the logistical reasons which won’t get mentioned about.
Trainer David Pipe has a very good record in this race and he’ll be very hopeful of his horse WAITARA obliging at the first time of asking.
A winner of two races on the flat, both over 1m2f, this filly landed a claimer at Toulouse in March and since that win she has made the switch to the West Country to be with the master of Pond House, she’s sure to have been well schooled and can make a winning debut here. NON RUNNER
1.30 – The Derby – Group 1 – 3yo Only – 1m 4f 6yds
Arrest – Frankel X Nisriyna colt
Winner of 3 of his 5 starts with 2 places. Ended 2022 finishing a head 2nd to Dubai Mile in the Group 1 Crit St-Cloud Stakes over 1m 2f on heavy ground, the front 2 were 6 lengths clear of 3rd Adelaide River. Made seasonal return on May 10th at Chester in the Group 3 Chester Vase over 1m 4f 63yds, beating Adelaide River by 6 & 1/2 lengths. The good to firm ground is no issue, with Arrest winning a class 4 maiden at Sandown on the ground last August. UNPLACED
I also like White Birch ( Ulysses X Diagnostic), who has 2 wins from his 4 starts & won the Group 3 1m 2f Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on season return in April before finishing a neck 2nd to The Foxes in the 1m 2f 56yd Dante Stakes at York on May 18th. He gave the impression that day, as he was closing that a bit further, he could have won & is a decent Each Way shout. 3RD
3.20 ‘Dash’ Handicap – Class 2 – 3yo+ – 5f….
Lihou – Mayson X Kodiac Island 7yo gelding.
43 turf runs with 4 wins & 9 places. Has run 4 times on turf this season since April, winning once with 2 places. His win came over C&D in a Class 3 Handicap in April (Soft) by a neck from a mark of 82 & his last run was on May 26th in a Class 3 5f Handicap at Goodwood, finishing a 3/4’s of a length 2nd from todays mark of 84 – Each Way – Missed break, Lost an Iron. LAST
Sunday – Chantilly
The going at Chantilly is currently – Good, Soft to Good (France Galop)
The shortlist for Prix Du Jockey Club day
1.08 – Prix La Fleche Listed Stakes – 2yo Only – 5f..
Dorothy Lawrence – Soldier’s Call X Festoso filly.
3 & 1/4 length runner up to Persian Dreamer in a 5f Class 2 Maiden at Newmarket on April 19th before finishing 2nd again in the 5f Marygate Fillies’ Listed Stakesat York on May 19th to Love A Grey.. 3RD
1.43 Grand Prix de Chantilly – Group 2 – 3yo+ – 1m 4f..
Simca Mille – Drops to Group2 level, finished 2nd in Prix Ganay, Group 1 on April 30th. C&D winner. Likely to be odds ON. WINS 2/5 ON
3.05 Prix du Jockey Club – Group 1 – 3yo Only – 1m 2f 96yds..
This could well be a cracking race, with French Guineas winner, Marhaba Ya Sahafi (Top Rated 114) & 4th that day, American Flag lock horns, the form has flip flopped with these two & could well be going at each other, if they stay the extra 2 furlongs.
Rajapour, who was an unbeaten 2yo has yet to fire in 2 starts as a 3yo & was 2 &1/2 lengths behind American Flag in the Group 3 Fontainebleau & was 19 & 1/2 lengths behind Big Rock in the Group 3 Prix de Guiche. Big Rock is 4 from 4 since moving yards & has won a pair pf Group 3 Stakes over 1m 1f, with him winning by 5 lengths in the Prix de Guiche at this course on May 9th. He is likely to go off as Favourite for this race too. Two other’s whose form ties in with Big Rock are Flight Leader, a Group 3 winner over 1m 2f but was 21 lengths behind Big Rock on May 9th, while Padishakh has been behind Big Rock on his last 2 starts, the last time by 14 & 1/2 lengths.
Feed the Flame is an interesting runner, despite only having 2 runs, with both over 1m 2f 151yds & was supplemented for this race, he is unbeaten. He won 2 stakes races but his last run had the form franked by Runner UP First Master, who landed a 1m 3f Group 3 on May 28th. Another who is unbeaten is Ace Impact, who won the 1m 2f Listed De Suresnes Stakes at this course on May 4th by 1 & 3/4 lengths.
An outsider, who stays 1m 4f is Winter Pudding, he was a runner up in a Saint-Cloud 1m 2f Listed Stakes before winning the De L’avre Listed but this could be on the sharp side & maybe one to note come October.
Of the 2 UK & Irish raiders, Epictetus is a Epsom Listed winner over 1m 2f but was 5th behind The Foxes in the Dante at York 7 has a fair bit to improve, as for AOB’s Continuous, who was 3rd in the Dante & will likely improve a lot for the run & I expect him to finish ahead of Epictetus…
Inconclusion, although Big Rock is the Likely favourite with Feed The Flames, I’m going for Continuous to land a Derby Double for Team O’Brien with Winter Pudding at a big Each Way price….
1 – ACE IMPACT – Still Unbeaten
2 – BIG ROCK…
3- Marhaba Ya Sanafi
3.50 Prix de Sandringham – Group 2 – 3yo Only – 1m…
Sauterne – Kingman X Salicorne filly.
3 turf runs, with 1 win & 1 Place. Won the 7f Listed Du Pont Neuf Stakes on April 27th before finishing a 3 length 3rd to Blue Rose Cen in the 1m Group 1 Prix Poule d’Essai des Pouliches on May 14th.. 2ND
4.25 Prix de Royaumont – Group 3 – 3yo Only – 1m 4f…
French Bob – Galileo X Parlour filly.
3 career runs, with 2 runs in 2023. Won on debut last December in a 1m 1f 97yd All Weather Maiden at Deauville, before returning to the same AW track in March, when finishing a 1/2 length 2nd.
Ran a 1 & 3/4 length 2nd when last seen on April 14th in the 1m 2f Saint-Cloud 1m Derban Stakes to Left Seg… UNPLACED
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Good Luck – The AOLR Team