Ante-post Weekend tips for Epsom and Sandown – Derby, Oaks and Eclipse on the agenda
We take a look ahead to this weekend’s Group One feature races at Epsom and Sandown, including both the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks and also the Coral-Eclipse Stakes; we give our ante-post weekend tips for the pick of the action.
What a week-end is in store for punters this week and for the first time in history both the Epsom Oaks and the Epsom Derby will be run on the same day. Traditionally held on separate days, the Covid-19 pandemic saw the normal Classic weekend in June lost; but the two Classic races have been salvaged and go to post on Saturday’s racecard.
Meanwhile, on Sunday a fantastic card takes place at Sandown which is spearheaded by the latest renewal of the Group One Coral Eclipse Stakes and features the seasonal return of superstar mare Enable.
It promises to be an unmissable weekend of top-class horse racing action and we’ve put together our ante-post weekend tips for the main events on both days.
ANTE-POST WEEKEND TIPS – EPSOM & SANDOWN 4/5 JULY
3:40 Epsom – Investec Oaks (Group 1) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 1m4f
John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien have shared the last six renewals of the Investec Oaks between them with the score at 3-3 and the two top handlers look set to fight it out again for more Classic success.
O’Brien has two of the first three in the ante-post market with both Love and Peaceful featuring prominently in the betting. The former was an impressive winner of the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her reappearance and this further step up in trip could unlock more improvement in the Galileo filly although the Guineas form and that of her earlier win in the Fillies’ Mile have both taken knocks.
Peaceful meanwhile was also an impressive first-time up winner, claiming the Irish 1000 Guineas in grand style and like her stablemate could be improved by a step up in distance. She appeared to win that Irish Classic a shade cosily and there’s surely better to come.
However, with stamina assured and having done nothing wrong to date, FRANKLY DARLING could prove the one they all have to beat and John Gosden’s charge has impressed with both her wins this season at Newcastle and Royal Ascot when taking the Ribblesdale Stakes in impressive fashion from another possible O’Brien-trained Oaks runner in Ennistymon.
The Frankel filly showed the step up to this trip to be no problem with a ready success and she’s likely to continue improving with the better ground at Epsom unlikely to inconvenience so a bold bid looks assured if she handles this track.
4:55 Epsom – Investec Derby (Group 1) Cl1 (3yo) 1m4f
Ed Walker’s English King leapt to the head of the betting for this race when taking the Lingfield Derby Trial in decisive fashion and the Camelot colt could follow Anthony Van Dycky who took the same route twelve months ago to Epsom glory.
Lingfield isn’t a million miles away from Epsom in terms of its layout and the Camelot colt proved the trip to be no problem with that easy win. The runner-up didn’t do the form any harm in finishing runner-up in the Queen’s Vase and there’s sure to be more to come from him on the back of that performance.
Aidan O’Brien’s Epsom Derby record is impressive with seven wins in the race including two of the last three renewals. The Ballydoyle maestro’s main hopes could rest with Mogul who should strip fitter for his recent reappearance in the King Edward VII Stakes behind Pyledriver who is a possible runner for William Muir.
That one had had the benefit of a run and the result might be different this time around although Pyledriver is certainly entitled to take his chances alongside another O’Brien runner in RUSSIAN EMPEROR who stayed on strongly to take the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
By Galileo he is likely to improve again for this even longer trip given how strongly he finished off over the stiff Ascot track and for all he has to step up again formwise now tackling a Group One now he looks one who could have much more still to come and no surprise to see him in the thick of things.
Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Kameko isn’t without hope if seeing out this significantly longer trip, but Andrew Balding’s charge didn’t appear to be slowing up at the end of the Newmarket Classic where he burst the Pinatubo bubble by taking the victory.
The Kitten’s Joy colt is certainly another going the right way and he’s sure to be involved if he doesn’t prove inconvenienced by the extra half-mile he has to travel here.
3:35 Sandown – Coral-Eclipse (Group 1) (British Champions Series) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m2f
Ghaiyyath was mightily impressive when routing Anthony Van Dyck to win the Coronation Cup and the Godolphin runner looks set to post another big run.
Charlie Appleby’s charge had the run of the race that day, making every post a winning one in seeing off the 2019 Epsom Derby hero who has disappointed the form since, with top-class stayer Stradivarius in third although the latter was certainly not helped by contesting over a trip far short of his best.
Still improving he will however likely find ENABLE a tough opponent and the dual-Arc heroine can get back on the winning trail having seen her impressive winning streak ended by Waldgeist in last season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Prior to that reversal John Gosden’s superstar mare had chalked up a dozen top-level successes which included this race twelve months ago when defeating another top-class mare in Magical. She then added both the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks to her haul prior to being foiled in her bid for a third Arc crown.
She’s still the one they have to beat despite her losing her air of invincibility last time out, and while the improving Ghaiyyath and progressive stablemate to Enable, Lord North, are both worthy of plenty of respect she can come out on top in what promises to be a fascinating contest.