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2019 Flat racing tips – Ante-post tips for both the Oaks and the Derby

Jonathan Vine 21 May 2019
A view of the finish in last year's Oaks.

Our expert has looked through the betting for the 2019 Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby to provide readers with his ante-post tips.

Some have said the 2018 flat season was largely underwhelming, compared to recent seasons, and it’s fairly hard to dispute that claim. Yet, we’ve still seen some magical performances from older horses and some stand-out showings from this year’s crop of juveniles.

An impressive campaign as a two-year-old ensures your position at the head of the betting for the following season’s Classics. Our expert has taken a look through the betting for next year’s 2000 and 1000 Guineas, along with the Oaks and the Derby at Epsom, and come up for four ante-post tips.

Epsom Oaks

Mehdaayih was impressive at Chester and Maqsad has been progressing very nicely this term. However, I’m not sure the form of either of their recent wins is going to hold up particularly well and, heading into the new campaign, my feeling was that the Irish fillies were quite a distance clear of their British counterparts.

Despite Joseph O'Brien concerns, I think Iridessa could improve for a step up in trip and, if Hermosa was to swerve the Irish 1000 Guineas to have a crack at the Oaks, she would almost certainly go off as the favourite. However, with money likely to come for Mehdaayih, PINK DOGWOOD (9/2 Paddy Power) could drift out to a more appealing twice and Aidan O'Brien's filly looks the most solid ante-post option.

Pink Dogwood outlined her potential as a stayer when cruising to a maiden victory over a mile last season, powering clear of her rivals on unseasonably heavy ground, Ryan Moore then tried to turn the Prix Marcel Boussac into a real test of stamina, but the long-time leader was swamped in the final furlong, eventually crossing the line fifth. The Oaks was identified as her target at the beginning of the season and that looked a wise decision back in April, as Pink Dogwood held Encapsulation and Tarnawa at arm's length under a hands-and-heels ride by Ryan Moore. 

There's clearly plenty more to come from this beautifully bred daughter of Camelot. Some would say a horse rated only 104 shouldn't be winning the Oaks, but this Classic was won by a 99-rated maiden last season and Pink Dogwood has plenty more experience than most of her rivals, many of which were unraced or once-raced as a juvenile.

 I think Pink Dogwood will blossom on the downs at Epsom and her current price of 9/2 seems excellent value to me!

Epsom Derby

Of the Aidan O’Brien’s runners, I think Broome and Anthony Van Dyck look best suited to a race like the Derby and either would be a worthy winner. Yet, the fact Sir Dragonet is the shortest priced of all the Ballydoyle contender after whopping a rubbish field at Chester suggests O’Brien’s current crop of Derby colts may not be as strong as they have been in previous season.

Taking everything into account, I’m prepared to take both John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien on once again in the Derby and the horse who captures my imagination is is Irish raider, MADHMOON (14/1 William Hill). 

Veteran trainer, Kevin Prendergast stated before the Guineas that Madhmoon’s performance in that Classic would dictate whether he would head to Epsom or not. Following a fourth-place finish, Prendergast stated that it would be all systems go for the Derby and this multiple Classic winning trainer wouldn’t send Madhmoon to Epsom if he wasn’t sure he was a stayer.

Many people say the Guineas is the best Trial for the Derby. Third is the worst any future Derby horse has finished in the Guineas since Generous came fourth in 1991. Like Generous, Madhmoon finished fourth at Newmarket earlier this month, but he was drawn on the slowest section of the track and stayed on gamely to snatch a pace after being outpaced coming through the dip.

The track at Epsom should suit Madhmoon much better than the Rowley Mile. Leopardstown, like Epsom, is a turning left-handed track Prendergast’s charge showed a great liking to last season, comfortably seeing off Broome to win the Group Two Champion Juvenile Stakes back in September. Yes, Madhmoon has been defeated twice since then, but he was nabbed by a race-fit rival over seven furlongs on soft ground on his reappearance and that run in the Guineas was extremely encouraging.

Madhmoon’s sire, Dawn Approach finished last in the 2013 Derby after romping to 2000 Guineas glory. His breeding may not suggest a mile-and-a-half will come naturally, but Prendergast thinks he’ll stay and everything my eyes have told me so far agrees with Madhmoon’s iconic trainer. 

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2019 Flat racing tips – Ante-post tips for both the Oaks and the Derby

Our expert has looked through the betting for the 2019 2000 Guineas, 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby to provide readers with his ante-post tips as the 2018 campaign comes to a close.

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