The Derby meeting is upon us and we start proceedings off as ever with Oaks day with a belting afternoon of action in store.
The first race of the meeting is the 2.00 Woodcote Stakes over 6 furlongs and it’s headed by De Bruyne Horse for Richard Hannon and Ryan Moore following a comprehensive victory last time out at Ripon, a repeat of that performance will obviously see him there or thereabouts again here. Another one that should put a bold bid in here is Cardsharp for Mark Johnston and Silvestre De Sousa, he won a novice contest well at Brighton on debut before finishing a close fourth in a better contest at Ascot last time out. The one that i’d be willing to take a chance on here though is Zap (4/1) for Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan. I was at York the day he won his solitary start and it’s fair to say he was absolutely off his head in the parade ring with Hanagan having to restrain him from having a sit on a few punters knees. He however went onto to overcome that and being green to win well that day and there should be more to come.
Next up the 2.35 is a Class 2 contest over a mile and and is headed by Godolphin charge GK Chesterton, he’s lightly raced and put a narrow defeat at Nottingham behind him when going on to win at Newmarket last time out and there should be more to come from him. I’m willing to take him on though with Remarkable (7/2) for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. He did well last season and was an impressive second in a very decent handicap at Ascot, he met trouble on his reappearance in the Victoria Cup however he shouldn’t be written off yet and I fancy him to bounce back with a bold bid to get into the frame here. Sixties Groove (15/2) might be best of the rest and the best each way alternative in the field for Jeremy Noseda and Adam Kirby.
The 3.10 is the Group 1 Coronation Cup and it’s a fiercely competitive renewal this year with Highland Reel heading the market for AP O’Brien and Ryan Moore. He was below par in the Sheema Classic when beaten 12 lengths by Jack Hobbs however he’s know to start a bit below par and he went on to worldwide success last term and a return to his best would obviously see him go very close here. AP O’Brien also runs last year’s Derby second US Army Ranger of whom if you’ve followed this blog before will know i’ve stressed my concerns about in the past however he has been backed in slightly. The third AP O’Brien horse that might be worth chancing on as an each way alternative is Highland Reel’s brother Idaho (13/2) a bit more is needed from him here as he did seem to fade away at the end of last term but he was third in the Derby here last year and second in the Irish equivalent. He might just improve and put a bold showing to get into the frame. The other one I like as an each way alternative is Journey (5/1) for John Gosden and Frankie. She’s one of my favourite flat performers and was exceptional at the end of the last year winning her last three taking a Group 3, Listed and a Group 1. If she finds the same form here she should certainly put a bold bid in against her opposite sex.
The 4.30 is the Oaks and it seems to be a running theme of the current season that i’m starting a big race off with saying ‘AP O’Brien has the market principal’ and that is the case again for this year’s Oaks with Rhododendron at short odds. She ran on strongly after meeting traffic in the 1000 Guineas only to be denied by stablemate Winter who went on to win the Irish equivalent last weekend and she looks sure to give another strong account of herself here and it would be somewhat of a shock if she wasn’t to win. I think her main challenger and one that I fancy myself is Enable (11/2) for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. She started the season off at Newbury when a good third behind stablemate Shutter Speed before following up with a win at Chester’s May Festival beating Alluringly in the process who also goes here, I personally think she’s a great each way alternative to the strong market leader. John Gosden also runs Coronet here who was beaten over four lengths in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary by Charlie Appleby’s Sobestu who’s also in the line up. Andrew Balding sends one here who I also fancy as a decent each way alternative to the market leader in Horseplay (12/1) she destroyed a field at Nottingham on her last start of last year before reappearing with a win in the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket. I think she’s another really good each way alternative. In form jockey Oisin Murphy looks to take the ride.