Epsom Derby Day Preview
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Epsom Derby Day Preview

It is the most sought-after race on the Flat calendar and on Saturday afternoon The Derby at Epsom will continue its long and storied tradition, which started back in 1780. Can Sir Michael Stoute hold sway for a sixth win, or will the behemoths that are Aidan O'Brien and Charlie Appleby make it nine in 11 between them? Racing from Epsom on Saturday is from 2.00pm-5.50pm and the Racing Post previews the card with analysis and predictions.


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2.00pm - Cazoo Handicap (1m2f)

War Horse and Nolton Cross have previous, having eventually finished first and revised second at Sandown over this trip last month in a four-runner event. Hugo Palmer's charge dictated a slow pace in front but was unable to fend the challengers off, though he did meet some interference late on.

War Horse was perhaps idling in front as well, and he's better off on these terms, so Marco Botti's winner is entitled to uphold the placings, with both set to be competitive.

Another hoping for better luck in the run will be Mr Big Stuff, who met his share of trouble in the London Gold Cup at Newbury last time - finishing fifth. He's got a handy claim today and is a player.

Lightly-raced Blue Trail shaped well in third on handicap bow at Sandown seven weeks ago and is now upped in trip for Charlie Appleby and William Buick, while Salisbury scorer Box To Box is worth a crack at this prize for Hugo Palmer with the excellent Harry Davies taking 5lb off.

Though not well-handicapped here, SWILCAN BRIDGE is worth a chance under Hayley Turner for the first time. Third here over an extended mile in April on his turf bow, he was only narrowly denied since upped to this distance at Goodwood in a race where he was perhaps committed for home too soon. His high draw may dictate a more patient approach now and he's got scope for better.

Selection: Swilcan Bridge

Next Best: War Horse

 

2.35pm - Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Fillies' and Mares' Group 3, 1m½f)

The pair that make most appeal are MRS FITZHERBERT and Bashkirova, first and second in a Listed Goodwood event at the end of April. Both are lightly-raced and open to further improvement and Hughie Morrison's filly can confirm that form.

Rider George Rooke had to bide his time at Goodwood but his Kingman filly was always travelling kindly and she picked up the eventual winner with something to spare. Both are entitled to be sharper for the run, though on that Goodwood evidence, the extra half-furlong will do no harm to the selection and she can hold sway over William Haggas' filly. It's a mild surprise to find the price discrepancy between the two.

Roman Mist (first) only just held of Potapova (second) at Kempton in a Listed all-weather race in April, they are players again though may need further improvement here.

Majestic Glory was third in the Fred Darling at Newbury on her return and looks best of the three-year-old's here, though she is speedy enough and that's a concern on first go at this trip. Statement lost her way last summer after finishing second in that same Newbury race but she has gone well fresh before and has moved to Kevin Ryan over the winter, so it will be intriguing to see what she can offer.

Selection: Mrs Fitzherbert

Next Best: Bashkirova

 

3.10pm - Cazoo Diomed Stakes (Group 3, 1m½f)

The progressive MODERN NEWS put behind his Lincoln disappointment in March by winning the Spring Cup at Newbury and a Listed Windsor contest last month. He likely didn't have to improve last time, but he was much the strongest late on and looks the one to beat now for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.

After a rapid start to the season, things have slowed up for the Newmarket handler in recent weeks, but with this meeting and Royal Ascot looming, don't be shocked to find his string finding full stride again.

Mutasaabeq won at Thirsk on comeback and Charlie Hills' colt perhaps didn't get the best fall of the cards since when second in the bet365 Mile at Sandown, he has to be considered a key player eased back into Group 3 company.

The consistent Finest Sound should run his race, and he's ahead of the likes of Zakouski and Escobar in the pecking order, but if there's one to worry the front pair, it might be Megallan for the Gosdens and Frankie Dettori. He was a promising second in the Earl Of Sefton at Newmarket (1m1f, good) on his comeback and his Huxley Stakes run at Chester since is best forgotten. In this grade, he's entitled to go well.

Selection: Modern News

Next Best: Megallan

 

3.45pm - Simpex Express 'Dash' Handicap (Heritage, 5f)

A field of 20 for 'The Dash' - up four on last year - and it's going to be typically frantic and requiring a slice of luck for the eventual winner to weave a path to glory.

Stone of Destiny, an unlucky third 12 months ago, is rated 10lb lower and should be respected for Andrew Balding. His most recent Goodwood run was slightly underwhelming, though the winner Raasel looks destined for top-level sprinting and so that can be taken with a pinch of salt. His prior run at Newmarket certainly gives rise to the idea he can do well.

Tees Spirit has impressive all-the-way 5f wins at Beverley and Nottingham this season for Adrian Nicholls and, while 6lb higher now, should give another good account up on the speed.

Justanotherbottle knows what is needed in this kind of company but has top weight and failed to fire in one previous Epsom start.

Paul Midgley has a good record in this frantic contest and MID WINSTER might be one for a big run. The mare won readily at Catterick last weekend, albeit in lesser company, and while she's rated 5lb higher now, the yard knows what is needed to excel in this contest and she's an each-way price.

Selection: Mid Winster

Next Best: Stone of Destiny

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4.30pm - Cazoo Derby (In Memory of Lester Piggott) (Group 1, 1m4f)

The Aidan O'Brien/Charlie Appleby Derby domination (eight of the last ten winners between them) is under huge threat this time around, but that is not to say the duopoly won't put up a fight. They saddle three contenders apiece in a 17-strong Derby field.

Ballydoyle supremo O'Brien's quest for a record-extending ninth win is headed by Stone Age - at least on jockey bookings. Ryan Moore's mount won the Derby Trial at Leopardstown from the front and is drawn to attack early again. Stablemate Star Of India won the Dee Stakes at Chester last month, while Changingoftheguard dominated the Chester Vase at the same meeting and was powering on at the winning line. He's drawn wide now and might have to bide his time - no bad thing in a Derby and - at the prices - Wayne Lordan's mount might be best of the trio. As we know, front rank in the betting is no great guide to the Ballydoyle horses.

Appleby, bidding for three wins in five years, has Nations Pride (Buick), Walk Of Stars (James Doyle) and Nahanni in the mix - with last year's winning rider Adam Kirby on the last-named.

Nations Pride has the best form and rating of the Godolphin trio and connections stumped up £75,000 to supplement into this contest.

The one they all must fear is DESERT CROWN, seeking to give Sir Michael Stoute his sixth Derby win, 41 years on from Shergar.

An easy winner of a Nottingham novice in November on soft ground over an extended mile, the Nathaniel colt was most impressive in the Dante at York last month, powering away to win by 5½-lengths. He looks a top-class prospect and on his third start, another jolt of improvement is likely. He looks straightforward in terms of his racing style and Richard Kingscote can bide his time as he showed a nice gear-change at York. He could be a tough nut to crack.

Royal Patronage had no answer to Desert Crown on the Knavesmire, but he was an Epsom winner last season and if Jason Hart can get him to settle in the early stages, he could be a place player at a massive price for Mark Johnston. Frankel colt Westover won a Group 3 at Sandown (1m2f, good) on his return in April for Ralph Beckett and is another to consider if taking a swing at the places.

Selection: Desert Crown

Next Best: Changingoftheguard

 

5.15pm - World Pool Northern Dancer Handicap (1m4f)

Last year's winner Midnights Legacy is just 3lb higher now and Alan King's dual-purpose performer has been in good heart over timber, a strong defence is likely.

State Of Bliss won at Ripon on penultimate start and can be forgiven his run next time at Newmarket as it was just a seven-day turnaround, while Mascat is interesting for newly-licensed Joe Tizzard after catching the eye in third at Ascot last time.

Things didn't fall for SOLENT GETAWAY in the Chester Cup but he wouldn't be the first to underperform in that quirky event. Previous to that, he was a good third over C&D here off this mark and Hugo Palmer has secured the excellent Harry Davies and his 5lb claim now. They are likely to go well.

Selection: Solent Getaway

Next Best: Mascat

 

5.50pm - JRA Tokyo Trophy Handicap (6f)

He has top-weight to defy but Commanche Falls was second at Doncaster on his comeback five weeks ago and the former Stewards' Cup winner should be all the sharper for that. He is a contender.

Nelson Gay, Alligator Alley, Night On Earth and Regional are all possible players, but last month's Ascot winner MANY A STAR did that job nicely despite weighing in 2lb overweight. The form has been franked by the second and third since and there's a good chance the five-year-old will go close again for the Cole team.

Selection: Many A Star

Next Best: Commanche Falls

 

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