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Epsom Derby Festival Betting Tips – Day One

Epsom Derby Festival Betting Tips – Day One

Two days of top-class Epsom action lie ahead as the famous Downs hosts the 2021 Derby Festival on Friday and Saturday. The Fillies are centre stage on Day 1, the feature being the Cazoo Oaks (4.30pm) on a seven-race Epsom offering (2.00pm-5.40pm). The Racing Post bring you their betting tips for every race across both afternoons at Epsom, starting with Friday's card.




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2.00 - Cazoo Woodcote EBF Stakes (Conditions Race, 6f)

Dairerin is the form pick on what we've seen thus far. Michael Bell's colt won on debut at Ripon (5f, good to soft) and came within a whisker of making it 2-2 at Newbury upped to this distance 20 days ago. That form is solid and Oisin Murphy's mount is the one to beat if coping with this faster surface.

There are dangers aplenty. Flaming Rib caused a bit of a shock with his all-the-way win at Nottingham four weeks ago, improving plenty for his debut outing, and Tom Dascombe's charge won't be underestimated in the betting now going up to this 6f trip for the first time. He's a player.

Richard Hannon has won this twice since 2014 and last week's soft-ground Haydock winner Raging is another upped in distance and with a role to play. Forward going filly Oscula did it nicely at Brighton (6f, good) last time and should help force the pace, but DUSKY PRINCE may be good enough to get in-form Archie Watson and Hollie Doyle off to a flyer.

The Prince Of Lir colt was well-backed for April's Brighton (5½f, good to firm) debut and while he looked in trouble after getting outpaced with a couple of furlongs to go, he powered home to win going away. This track should hold no fears and the extra yardage is surely a plus on that debut evidence. Improvement is likely and he can go well here.

Selection: Dusky Prince

Next Best: Dairerin

 

2.35 - Coral 'beaten By A Length' Free Bet Handicap (1m½f)

IRISH ADMIRAL is less exposed than most of these rivals. He was Listed-placed over 7f in one of only two starts for John Feane last year before making the switch to William Haggas.

He easily landed a Wolverhampton novice in April over this distance and looked on course to follow that up in a competitive Class 2 York handicap (1m2½f, good) last month, travelling like the best horse in the race before seemingly failing to properly see out the longer trip.

Still, that was his opening gambit in a handicap and, back down in trip, there's every chance of further improvement in him and Tom Marquand's mount can be a tough nut to crack for this field.

Muraad had Overwrite behind when scoring over this sort of trip at Glorious Goodwood last summer and Owen Burrows' charge should do himself justice here after taking part in a Listed Ascot contest in his April comeback where he was effectively making the pace for others. He can outrun his price back in a handicap.

The drop back in trip aided Storting as he won the Thirsk Hunt Cup over the bare mile last time out, he's another with each-way claims despite going up 5lb for that win. The likes of Plantadream and Corazon Espinado have little wiggle room in terms of handicapping, but both are capable of getting into the mix.

Selection: Irish Admiral

Next Best: Muraad

 

3.10 - Coral Coronation Cup (Group 1, 1m4f)

The opening Group 1 race of the Epsom Festival and this year's Coronation Cup revolves around the much-improved Al Aasy for the William Haggas team in the Shadwell colours. The Sea The Stars colt has mopped up a pair of Newbury Group 3s at this distance already this season in very easy fashion, displaying improved form at four in doing so.

The evidence suggests that Jim Crowley's mount is headed towards being a top-level performer over middle-distances. This rates his toughest challenge so far, being a Group 1 race against proven performers in this grade, but he looks to have plenty upside and it won't be a shock if he passes this examination en route to plenty more success this summer. He's already odds-on favourite to score.

Pyledriver was a dual Group 2 scorer at this distance last summer, though his worst performance of the term arrived over C&D in The Derby itself, so he does need to prove his effectiveness on the unique Epsom Downs.

He shouldn't be too harshly judged on that run however, given he was always up against it after the start. He should be sharper for last month's Newmarket comeback second behind Sir Ron Priestly.

The filly ALBAFLORA - second in last year's St Leger at Doncaster - returned to action with a demolition at Ascot four weeks ago in Listed company. That was on soft ground but she's capable on better going too.

The distance she put between herself and the subsequent York Group 3 winner Tribal Craft was impressive, while a line through the third Without A Fight suggests she might be some value against the favourite today. That was a really impressive start to her season and, with Frankie Dettori legged up for the first time here, it's possible to see better things in store. She's perhaps the value in the market at 12/1.

Aidan O'Brien has won this race eight times since 2005 and the Ballydoyle trainer saddles brothers Japan and Mogul in a tag-team effort now.

The former banished memories of a winless 2020 by grabbing the Ormonde Stakes at Chester on his return last month and was only narrowly touched off in the 2019 Derby here on his only Epsom experience. He has to be on any shortlist.

Mogul meanwhile was sixth in last year's Classic here and landed a French Group 1 in the autumn, before landing another in Hong Kong in December. He was third in last month's Prix Ganay over shorter at Longchamp and could be building up to something better.

Selection: Albaflora

Next Best: Al Aasy

3.45 - Cazoo Handicap (1m2f)

Blue Cup looked a shade unfortunate in the closing stages when close fifth over C&D in April. He's capable of better still but he was a well-beaten favourite since at York. The hood is added today and he can go well, albeit he'll have to rely on some luck in running around here and the price looks short enough as such.

HMS President (first) justified favouritism at Windsor (1m2f, good to soft) last month and had WATERS EDGE (third) a length behind. The winner is up 4lb and can be competitive again, while he should handle quicker ground despite best form coming with give underfoot.

Nicola Currie's mount finished well that day and shapes as though he will handle this track (failed on heavy going in one appearance). That being the case, George Baker's five-year-old could be one to finish fast and late off bottom-weight.

Dream With Me has won 3-4 starts this season, his last two at Ayr over this sort of trip on quick ground, and is a likely contender; while Victory Chime was a C&D winner in April when last spotted (Blue Cup fifth) and should give another solid account from 4lb higher as he looks to make it a perfect 3-3 around this track and trip.

Selection: Waters Edge

Next Best: Victory Chime

 

4.30 - Cazoo Oaks (Fillies' Group 1, 1m4f)

Just as last month's 1000 Guineas at Newmarket did, this fillies' Classic revolves around the potential of Santa Barbara - the leading player in Aidan O'Brien's quest for a fifth Oaks win in seven years.

She was having only a second run (first this year) at Newmarket and she lost little caste in defeat, just over a length fourth behind stablemate Mother Earth. The Rowley Mile's famous dip seemingly didn't do her any favours on the day.

Further progress is very likely and that she was good enough to go so close in a Group 1 of that ilk on her second outing is testament to her talent. The increased distance is in her favour and she's a worthy favourite.

DUBAI FOUNTAIN and Zeyaadah were first and second in last month's Cheshire Oaks at Chester (runner-up now 3lb better off for a one-length defeat).

That was the first defeat of Zeyaadah's career and she's sure to be sharper for that seasonal comeback. She could easily progress past her Chester conqueror but it's folly to write off Mark Johnston's filly and, at double-figure prices, she's worth an each-way shout in The Oaks.

She took her racing well last summer at up to a mile, running very good races in strong company without winning. That seasonal comeback was hugely promising and showed she will relish this trip.

Faster ground is forecast here and that should only bring more improvement. She may be difficult to crack if getting into the lead late on and is a lively contender to give the Middleham trainer his first Oaks win.

Guineas second Saffron Beach has to prove her stamina for this test, while Sherbet Lemon (first) and Ocean Road (third) represent the Lingfield Oaks Trial but have more on their plates now.

Frankie Dettori gets the leg up on Snowfall, impressive in the Musidora at York just over three weeks ago with an all-the-way win as she had Teona behind in third. The Deep Impact filly set moderate fractions however and may not be allowed such an easy time now. Roger Varian's filly could turn that form around with a more searching gallop to aim at.

Selection: Dubai Fountain

Next Best: Santa Barbara

 

5.10 - Play Coral 'Racing-Super-Series' For Free Surrey Stakes (Listed, 7f)

Having routed his rivals in two all-weather starts at Southwell this spring, MEHMENTO proved he's got plenty about him by running smart performer Chindit to within a neck in Newbury's Group 3 Greenham Stakes in April.

That was a fine start to his turf career and the form is reliable (winner fourth in 2000 Guineas next start). Archie Watson's charge meanwhile is easily forgiven a lacklustre display in a Group 1 in France subsequently, that effort having come on heavy ground.

He drops in class now and could be very hard to beat, based on the promise of his all-weather form and that Newbury silver medal.

Mystery Smiles was placed in the Craven at Newmarket on return and outclassed there since in the 2000 Guineas, so he's another class-dropper with a chance.

Legal Attack however only lost a Goodwood conditions race on the nod in April over a mile on quick ground to a smart rival, with Royal Scimitar well behind in fourth. Simon & Ed Crisford's colt sports first-time cheekpieces now and is potentially the principle threat to Mehmento.

Selection: Mehmento

Next Best: Legal Attack

 

5.40 - Cazoo Derby Festival Handicap (7f)

Above is closing in on two years without a win but Archie Watson's charge has been gelded since we saw him last and perhaps he'll find better in store as a result. He's worth paying some attention to.

Lord Rapscallion and Shelir have place claims in a tough finale but Dulas and RHOSCOLYN are the pair of most interest.

Charlie Hills' made all and held off Lord Rapscallion at Goodwood (7f, soft) recently, he's only gone up 2lb and is enjoying a consistent season so he should go well again.

Preference is for David O'Meara's gelding however. He was a winner over the same Goodwood course-and-distance a day later, doing so in a faster time compared to Dulas. He, too, can lead but he sat handy that day before pressing on at the two-furlong marker. There's more to come from this promising three-year-old and his style of racing bodes well for Epsom.

Selection: Rhoscolyn

Next Best: Above

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