The ground was described as good – good to firm in places – on Thursday morning ahead of today’s card at Epsom which features two Group 1 contests including the third classic of the flat season the Cazoo sponsored Oaks.
Aidan O’Brien saddles five of the 14 strong field in the fillies’ classic with stable jockey Ryan Moore favouring Santa Barbara who finished fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket two places behind Saffron Beach who reopposes today but is unlikely to stay today’s trip on breeding.
Santa Barbara has only had two career starts and will stay at least ten furlongs, but I am not convinced she will get a mile-and-a-half and she is short enough in the betting. The each way vote goes to Zeyaadah (4.30) who lost her unbeaten record, met trouble in running, when behind Dubai Fountain in the Cheshire Oaks on her reappearance but is taken to reverse the form. Roger Varian has his string in excellent form and Jim Crowley was not hard on the filly at Chester, but she hit the line hard. A draw in stall one is a slight concern for one who is likely to be held up, but I hope Jim Crowley can get his mount into a good position as they come down Tattenham Corner. The filly is 11/2 with Boylesports who are paying 4 places.
Al Aasy will be all the rage for the Coronation Cup after two impressive wins already this season, but I remember backing the colt when he finished last at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes back in July when he pulled too hard. He is held in the highest regard by trainer William Haggas, and he did cope with good ground well enough when scoring at Newbury on his reappearance.
The recommendation is Pyledriver (3.10) without the market leader – 9/2 with William Hill – in the hope that the colt is more amenable to restraint than when second to Sir Ron Priestley at Newmarket on his comeback. The 4-y-old ran no sort of race in the Derby last year but that was a farce of a race and his win in the Gt Voltigeur at York back in August marked him down as a top-class horse at 12 furlongs.
In the opener I hope to see Dairerin (2.00) go one better than was the case at Newbury last time when he finished behind a Richard Hannon trained colt who is earmarked for the Coventry Stakes later in the month. The third horse home – Al Shibli – did us a favour at Chester on Saturday and I hope to see Oisin Murphy stalk the likely pacesetter Flaming Rib before pouncing inside the final furlong. The juvenile is 5/2 with BetVictor.
Irish Admiral (2.35) travelled like a Group horse when making serene progress from the rear of the field at York over an extended 10f last time before his run faulted inside the final furlong. He is dropped back to an extended mile this afternoon and, if there is a decent gallop to chase, I feel he will be tough to beat granted luck in running. The selection was 2s on Thursday afternoon but is into a best price of 6/4 at 10Bet by the time of posting at 7.30.
Dream With Me (3.45) has done us a couple of favours in recent weeks and is taken to defy a 7lbs rise for his latest Ayr success for Mark Johnston. The Frankel colt has won three of his last four in the manner of a highly progressive colt and I hope to see Ben Curtis get his mount into a prominent position early behind likely frontrunner Lawn Ranger. He gets the each way vote at 11/2 with William Hill 4 places.
There is some excellent evening racing and in the Doncaster opener I hope to see Dollar Bid (5.53) follow up his recent polytrack success from a 4lbs higher mark. This is the gelding’s first start on turf but there is no reason why he shouldn’t be as effective on grass, and he looked a reformed character post a gelding operation at Lingfield last month. The 2/1 early evening was attractive but he is into 6/4 with MansionBet at the time of posting.
Evaluation (8.23) failed to cope with underfoot conditions when third at Salisbury on soft ground last time, but I hope to see the Stoute/Kingscote partnership have another winner back on a sound surface. The selection is out of Her Majesty’s Gold Cup winner Estimate and, while this son of Dubawi is no star, he can get off the mark from a mark of 70. There was 9/4 available early on Thursday evening, which made plenty of appeal, but the gelding is into 6/4 with 10Bet at time of posting.
In the finale at Goodwood, I am convinced Set Point (8.30) is better than he showed at Chester last time, and he is taken to reverse the placings with winner Love Is Golden on 4lbs better terms. The latter had the run of the race on that occasion while the selection never looked at ease. He is best judged on his previous run at Newbury when he performed with great credit in a hot conditions event. Hugo Palmer’s 3-y-old is 5/2 with MansionBet.