They may not be being run at their usual times in the calendar, but the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks remain two of the most important races of the year.
This year, they will both be run on Saturday July 4th on what is a wonderful weekend for horseracing, with Naas staging Group 3 races on Saturday, and the Eclipse Stakes, Lancashire Oaks, Henry II Stakes, Coral Charge, the Marble Hill Stakes, Munster Oaks, Ballycorus Stakes and French Oaks and French Derby all being run on Sunday.
First things first, though, so here is Alan Marron, once again, to give his views and tips on a key racing fixture, Derby and Oaks day at Epsom on Saturday.
How do you like the look of our Classic Double?…
EPSOM PREVIEW SATURDAY 4/7/2020
1:50 INVESTEC WOODCOTE EBF STAKES (CONDITIONS RACE) (PLUS 10 RACE) (Class 2) (2yo) Winner £12,450 5 runners 6f3y ITV (STALLS Outside)
TWAASOL created quite an impression at Windsor on his debut when he got up close home to beat Zamaani, who was in the same colours of owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.
This horse was held up in midfield and, when he came with his run, he got there nicely and then was carried left but hung on well close home.
The thing that impressed me most was that Zamaani had had a run but Twaasol was only making his debut.
There should be plenty more to come and he should go very close here so long as he handles the undulations and cambers of this track.
2.25 INVESTEC SURREY STAKES (LISTED RACE) (Class 1) (3yo+) Winner £14,461 6 runners 7f3y ITV (STALLS Inside)
Course form can be vital around Epsom and OH THIS IS US ran well in the Diomed Stakes here in 2017 and 2019. His run in the race last year was behind a very progressive horse in Zaaki, trained by Sir Michael Stoute.
Oh This Is Us has kept some very strong company in recent times and this looks a slight drop in grade and I would expect him to go very close.
He is just a pound higher in the ratings than for his last win and he should be able to contend here off 106. His first run this season wasn’t devoid of promise when he finished fifth to Marie’s Diamond in the Paradise Stakes Listed race at Newmarket. He stayed on well in the closing stages and should come on plenty for that first run.
3.00 INVESTEC HANDICAP (Class 2) (4yo+) Winner £15,563 16 runners 1m2f17y ITV (STALLS Inside)
I was keeping a very close eye on TINANDALI when he made his debut for David O’Meara at Ayr and he ran a cracking race when finishing second to the Jim Goldie-trained Nicholas T. Tinandali was formerly trained by Dermot Weld here in Ireland and was very impressive when he beat Invasion Day at Navan back in June last year. He has been raised two pounds in the ratings for his latest run and I think that his mark is still manageable.
David O’Meara has a good record with improving this type of horse so he could be one to watch for the rest of the season. The booking of Adam Kirby catches the eye and, with a bit of improvement, he should be hard to keep out of the frame.
Don’t forget this….
3.40 INVESTEC OAKS (GROUP 1) (FILLIES) (Class 1) (3yo) Winner £141,775 8 runners 1m4f6y ITV (STALLS Centre)
One of the features on the day and it looks like an excellent renewal with the winner of the 1000 Guineas taking on the winner of the Ribblesdale. Both Love and Frankly Darling were impressive in their respective races and this, in turn, promises to be a very good race.
There may be a fly in the ointment though as PASSION could be somewhat underestimated. She was last seen when third to Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, but I have watched that race on a number of occasions and it was noticeable how well she stayed on in the closing stages. Epsom could be a track that will suit her more than Royal Ascot as she travels strongly and also has stamina on her side.
The form of her fourth-place finish in the “Salsabil” at Naas has worked out nicely with One Voice, who finished second that day, going on to win the “Blue Wind” at Leopardstown on her next run.
Passion will have to improve again to contend here but I think she could and looks the value play here in a competitive race.
4.15 PRINCESS ELIZABETH STAKES (SPONSORED BY INVESTEC) (GROUP 3) (Class 1) (3yo) Winner £23,081 6 runners 1m113y ITV (STALLS Inside)
LOVE AND THUNDER could be a very interesting runner here for the team of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. She was formerly trained by Andre Fabre in France and finished second on her debut at Deauville, where she was unlucky not to get up close home. She was then transferred to John Gosden and put in an electric performance at Newbury in a fillies novice race, where she quickened up nicely and was then eased close home.
While this is a step up in grade and she will have to improve again, there is every possibility that she can do so. This race looks wide open and she may be slightly overpriced.
4.55 1m4f (1m4f6y) Investec Derby (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo)
The Epsom Derby is one of the most memorable events in the sporting calendar and we could have a quality race on our hands as it looks extremely competitive.
Aidan O’Brien will be looking to set a record in the race – he has won it seven times; no trainer has won it eight times – and VATICAN CITY, one of six runners he has in the contest, stands out as a horse that could go very close here and show improvement for the step up in trip.
He is due to be ridden by Padraig Beggy, who gained his biggest success when winning this race on Wings Of Eagles in 2017. Vatican City ran a very eye-catching race when second to Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, where he did all his best work at the finish. He should be suited by the step up in trip and looks a prime contender here.
He was really impressive when he won his maiden in Dundalk, beating Pysche very easily by 2 ½ lengths. He should excel now stepped up in trip and I think he will be hard to keep out of the frame.
5.35 7f (7f3y) Investec Zebra Handicap (Class 3) (4yo+ 0-95)
While the draw may not suit ALEMARATALYOUM, he looks poised to strike for the very shrewd Stuart Williams team.
He is 3lbs higher than his last winning mark but that looks like giving him a decent chance here as he returned to form with a very good run last time out at Newmarket.
This horse may be better on softer conditions but he would have an each-way chance here on the pick of his best form and could go close with luck in running. He needs to be ridden quietly from off a strong pace and he could get that here.
I will be keeping a very close eye on him in the market and that could be giving us the clue to what we need to know to end the day.