The Derby will take place behind closed doors this afternoon with three-and-a-half-miles of perimeter fencing around Epsom although a maximum of two owners per horse will be allowed on track to cheer their horse home in their quest for classic glory.
Aidan O’Brien saddles six of the 16 colts who will go to post for the colts’ classic looking for a record eighth win in the race. I hoped Ryan Moore – who had a choice of the Ballydoyle sextet – would have chosen Russian Emperor but he has gone for Mogul who must improve markedly on his Royal Ascot reappearance when disappointing, although connections did suggest he would improve markedly for the run. He will have to if he is to take a hand in the finish.
Guineas winner Kameko is the best horse in the race, but will he stay the additional half a mile? I think he will come there cantering at the two pole and fall into a hole. I feel the classic lies between Frankie Dettori’s mount English King and Russian Emperor (4.55) and it is the latter who was last seen winning the Hampton Court – under Moore – over 10f at Royal Ascot last month who gets the vote. The selection shapes as though tomorrow’s additional quarter of a mile will suit and he is an each way recommendation at 13/2 with Boylesports who are betting each way four places. Good ground would be ideal.
The Oaks earlier in the card looks a match between 1000 Guineas winner Love and Frankly Darling (3.30) and I have been with the latter since she won at Newcastle on the opening day of the season at the beginning of June. The 2/1 widely available is still a fair price.
Love was an impressive winner at Newmarket but there is the possibility of showers at Epsom. If the rain did get into the ground it would have to be considered a negative for the market leader. She has yet to race on soft ground, but she is yet to win in three previous runs on good to soft ground while she is unbeaten on good or faster ground since her racecourse debut. Love is 11/10 but it is Frankie and Frankly Darling for me.
In the valuable 10f handicap Desert Icon is likely to be all the rage having made all to score at Newmarket on Sunday. I am not convinced that was the strongest race ever held at the track, however, and I feel the return to 10f will suit Andrew Balding’s Johnny Drama (3.00) especially if there is more rain.
The selection pulled hard from a poor draw over 12f at Royal Ascot, but this mile-and-a-quarter is his optimum trip and owners King Power could do with a fillip with Leicester City struggling to find their form after the Premier League resumption. The selection is 12/1 with Boylesports who are betting each way four places.
At Chelmsford this evening I am fascinated to see whether Astro King (8.10) can give 7lbs to Richard Hannon’s Cityzen Serg who has finished runner up in both starts, has a better draw than the selection and has an official rating of 82. With that in mind Astro King will have to be smart to follow up his Wolverhampton success although I believe he is. Shane Kelly takes over in the saddle with Ryan Moore at Epsom.
I will always have a soft spot for the progeny of Nahrain and the unbeaten Foorat (4.15) can take the step up in class in her stride in the Gp 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. The filly is two out of two on the all-weather and was visually very impressive when making all at Chelmsford on her reappearance.
The 1000 Guineas runner up Cloak Of Spirits failed to build on her Newmarket run when fifth in the Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting last month and I wonder about her ability to see out this extended mile. To my eyes she wants to be dropped down to 7f. The selection is 7/4 (from 15/8) with Unibet.
In the last at Haydock today I think Surrey Pride (4.25) will appreciate the forecast soft ground on his reappearance for Joseph Tuite. The selection has been pulled out of a couple of engagements on account of the prevailing fast ground in recent weeks, but no such problems this afternoon. At 7/1 with William Hill he gets the each way vote.
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