Covid has brought the odd latent benefit to the racing calendar, Saturday seeing The Oaks and Derby run on the same day for the first time and Sunday featuring the Eclipse meeting at Sandown run alongside a superb card from Haydock, we are spoilt for choice and I cannot wait.
The Derby might be arriving a month late, but the entry requirements (less draconian and expensive than usual) mean that a bumper field go to post. English King sauntered home at Lingfield and heads the market, but it didn’t feel a strong race and at the prices I’d rather side with Kameko, ready winner of a solid looking 2000 Guineas; I’m not sure he wants this undulating course, but Andrew Balding’s horses tend to go very well here and that offers hope. I think this is a more open race than the betting suggests though and my eye was drawn to two at a price.
Emissary is a half-brother to Workforce, an impressive winner of this some seasons ago and his owner Khalid Abdullah isn’t inclined to field no hopers at any level, presumably Hugo Palmer is enthusiastic. He was forced to make his move quite early at Goodwood and Khalifa Sat had enough in reserve to repel him, I expect those placings to be reversed here. Mohican Heights ran a decent race at Ascot when his stable was desperately out of form and the winners have just started to come. He can reverse form with Pyledriver and run a good race.
If the Derby looks an open renewal, The Oaks, by contrast looks a two horse race. I would have loved to see Newbury scorer Franconia (a really exciting type) in here but John Gosden clearly favours Frankly Darling and the hint should be taken. She settled the Ribblesdale with a fine turn of foot and her stamina is guaranteed, contrasting sharply with market leader Love, a fine filly but one who hails from a speed orientated family and who settled the issue in the Guineas with a decisive turn of foot. Its Frankly Darling all the way for me.
Elsewhere on the Epsom undercard, the Woodcote may have been downgraded but has attracted some nice types; Twaasol looked very professional when seeing off a race fit and well fancied rival at Windsor, he looks one to keep onside. Safe Voyage holds a class edge on his rivals in the Surrey Stakes and narrowly failed to take a much stronger contest on his reappearance at Haydock, with showers in the area the ground should be to his liking and he seems likely to take all the beating.
Bets: 1:50 Twaasol, 2:25 Safe Voyage, 3:40 Frankly Darling, 4:55 Emissary, saver: Mohican Heights