Friday 18th of January 2019
Racing

All eyes on Epsom

As we enter June, racing fans around the world turn their eyes to Epsom Downs for the most prestigious flat race in the world – the Investec Derby. Kitty Trice guides us through the historical significance of this feted meeting and highlights the riders and runners to watch.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Epsom Downs Racecourse

Photo Credit: Epsom Downs Racecourse

The 237th running at the Surrey racecourse is set to deliver on every front with human and equine stars aplenty on show. The meeting, held on the 3rd and 4th of June, is considered to be the pinnacle of the sport and it remains the dream of owners, jockeys and trainers alike to add their names to the roll of honour.

Part of the allure surrounding the leading British classic is its historical significance. The meeting was first run on May 4 1780 and was won by the Earl of Banbury’s Diomed. The race’s namesake, the Earl of Derby, had to wait until 1787 when his previously unraced Sir Peter Teazie won and subsequently retired to stud!

Racing has been dubbed the “sport of kings” and this year’s meeting will prove to be no exception. The Queen, who first began owning racehorses in 1949, will make the presentation to the winning connections of the Derby. The sponsors, Investec, will also name the Coronation Cup after Her Majesty in celebration of her 90th birthday.

Many of the all time great racehorses grace the winners’ list and includes the likes of Galileo, Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Shergar. In recent years the sport of racing has become increasingly international and high profile owners, from the likes of China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have sought to find a horse worthy of the first prize of £1.54 million.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the founder of racing superpower Godolphin, has yet to win the Derby but has two runners entered for this year’s renewal. The Andre Fabre-trained Cloth Of Stars (6/1 with Ladbrokes), who was supplemented as a late entry for the race, and Jim Bolger’s Moonlight Magic. The former, who is the son of the great Sea The Stars, has won three out of his five starts and could feature at the competitive end of the race.

It would be impossible to discuss the Derby without mentioning leading trainer Aidan O’Brien. With over 250 Group 1 winners to his name, he once again brings a strong team to Epsom Downs to add to his five Derby wins. US Army Ranger (9/2 with William Hill) is arguably his strongest chance in the race, out of the seven entered, despite not particularly impressing when winning the Chester Vase. However, you can never rule out O’Brien when it comes to producing Classic winners.

Credit: Epsom Downs Racecourse

Credit: Epsom Downs Racecourse

John Gosden, who saddled last year’s winner Golden Horn ahead of Jack Hobbs in an impressive 1-2 for the stable, has another prominent contender in his hands.  Wings of Desire, who is currently 7/2 with Paddy Power, won the Dante Stakes on his last outing and will be bidding to continue his trainer’s good form. He was one of four horses to be supplemented for the race, and highlights Gosden’s confidence in him handling the track.

 

Massaat, who finished second behind Galileo Gold in the 2000 Guineas in April, is likely to relish the step up in trip according to trainer Owen Burrows. The 14/1 shot came out of the Guineas well and goes to Epsom in good form.

This year’s Derby field is set to be the largest for ten years if all 18 horses line up and seven of those are from Aidan O’Brien’s formidable stables.

OAKS – Here come the girls!

Traditionally the Oaks has always played second fiddle to the Derby, but this year’s renewal of the fillies’ race will be highly anticipated with an abundance of quality horses entered. The feature race on the first day of the meeting holds a first prize of £475,000 and has nine entries.

Aidan O’Brien’s Minding (4/5 with Betway) heads the entries, having won the 1000 Guineas in brilliant style back in April. Her second in the Irish renewal was slightly underwhelming, considering her talents, but she burst a sinus after hitting her head in the stalls and only lost by a head.

The Godolphin-owned Skiffle (generally an 8/1 shot) is an exciting addition to the race after being supplemented on Saturday. Trainer Charlie Appleby, who will be represented in the race for the first time, confirmed the Goodwood Trials winner was in good form at home.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II Coronation Cup

This year’s Coronation Cup, held this year in The Queen’s name, looks to be a fantastic renewal with the entry of several world-class horses. The Roger Varian-trained Postponed is the strongly fancied favourite for the Group One, having emphatically won the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic back in March. Following a course gallop at Epsom, where he pleased jockey Andrea Atzeni, he is now 4/7 with Ladbrokes to maintain his unbeaten record for this season.

Varian’s charge will undoubtedly have to be on top form as the likes of Simple Verse and Arabian Queen are also entered. Simple Verse, who won the St Leger last season, is hoping to add another Group 1 success for owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani. On her seasonal reappearance she finished second behind Sir Michael Stoute’s Exosphere but is likely to improve from the run. She is a 7/2 chance with bet365.

Arabian Queen famously lowered the colours of Golden Horn in last season’s Juddmonte International and this petite mare will certainly battle for the top spot. She was not disgraced when finishing second at Newmarket in May and is 16/1 with Ladbrokes to finish a place higher at Epsom.

Prices correct on 1st June 2016

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