The world’s most famous Flat race takes place at Epsom on Saturday in the form of the Group 1 Derby, where Aidan O’Brien sends over seven runners. The fourth Classic of the season also brings a competitive day’s action with it, including the Group 3 Diomed Stakes over an extended mile. I’m going to be on a Plane tomorrow so will unfortunately miss most of the Epsom action – but a Holiday is well deserved! Be sure to follow me @JakePriceRacing if you don’t already for all the reaction once I land…
14:00 – Private Banking Handicap (Class 2) 3yo – 1m2f
Silvestre De Sousa has a fantastic record around Epsom, and is by far the leading Jockey over the past five seasons at this track. His 28% strike rate (from 123 rides) is very impressive, and I feel he can improve that even further in the opener on Derby Day. The Trader mightn’t be on many people’s radar here, but his form this season looks more than good enough to land this three-year-old handicap. Twice a winner over 7f in Novice events last season, this Mastercraftsman Colt made a pleasing return to the track at Chelmsford earlier this month, finishing half-a-length second to Fox Premier. The form was boosted at Sandown on Thursday evening, with that rival scoring readily by three-and-a-half lengths from a mark of 85. The Trader was last seen running in the ever-competitive London Gold Cup at Newbury, where he ran with credit to finish four-and-a-half lengths back in fifth place – behind some very progressive types such as Headman (now 103) and Good Birthday. That run came from a mark of 92, and the handicapper has left him alone for this contest. Connections changed running tactics on The Trader at Newbury, holding him up rather than leading like he did a Chelmsford nine days earlier. A return to the more prominent tactics here under the Champion Jockey will hopefully allow The Trader to capitalise on his fairly lenient mark. Trainer Mark Johnston is the top trainer at Epsom over the past five seasons, so connections couldn’t be much stronger.
The Trader Each/Way @ 13/2 2nd
15:10 – Diomed Stakes (Group 3) 3yo+ – 1m½f
Fresh from a five-timer across the Sandown and Lingfield cards on Thursday, I’m hoping Silvestre De Sousa has another good day at the office on Saturday. Bye Bye Hong Kong looks to have a fantastic chance of landing this Group 3 prize. Second in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes as a two-year-old last season, this King Power Racing Colt made his return to the track last month at Chelmsford, winning a very competitive Class 2 Handicap from a mark of 107. This three-year-old followed that victory up when landing a Listed prize at Windsor earlier this month, beating one of today’s rivals in Oh This Is Us by half-a-length. He will clearly need to step-forward again now upped in class once more, however Bye Bye Hong Kong does get a 13lbs weight-for-age allowance as he is at least a year younger than all of his rivals. Andrew Balding clearly feels he will be competitive here despite the age difference, and we could see Silvestre De Sousa bounce him out into the lead again like he did at Windsor. Bye Bye Hong Kong is the joint highest rated horse in the field with a mark of 112 – but with the extra weight he receives – he can get the better of Sir Michael Stoute’s short-priced favourite Zaaki.
Bye Bye Hong Kong @ 3/1 4th
16:30 -Investec Derby Stakes (Group 1) 3yo – 1m4f
The Derby is a puzzling race as ever this year, with Aidan O’Brien sending a massive team of seven horses over from Ireland to contest this Classic Group 1 prize. The one I have come down on here is Anthony Van Dyck, who won the Listed Derby Trial at Lingfield earlier this month. This son of Galileo enjoyed a successful two-year-old campaign last season, winning a Group 3 at Leopardstown before a Group 2 at The Curragh in August. He nearly added a Group 1 to his CV when second in the National Stakes, but one of his most impressive performances to date came on his seasonal reappearance. Anthony Van Dyck was a big drifter on the day at Lingfield, with both the ground and trip a concern for this Aidan O’Brien charge. He proved these doubters wrong however, staying every inch of the 1m3½f trip on the soft ground. A return to a faster surface in The Derby should suit considering he has a lot of useful two-year-old form on good to firm ground, and there aren’t the same stamina doubts which can be asked of some of these. Seamie Heffernan takes the ride of this 118 rated Colt, and I am hopeful he will run a big race.
Sir Dragonet is a doubt for me here on a faster surface, whilst Telecaster ran a huge race in the Dante just sixteen days ago, and this contest may come too soon. Broome has looked like a proper stayer this season, and I feel he will be much better suited to the Ledger trip at Doncaster later on in the season. Madhmoon raises stamina doubts having never raced past a mile, whilst Bangkok only won what has seemingly turned out to be a fairly week renewal of the Classic Trial at Sandown.
Anthony Van Dyck Each/Way @ 8/1 1st
17:15 – Out Of The Ordinary Handicap (Class 2) 4yo+ – 1m4f
Sextant won really well last seen at Ascot over this 1m4f trip, when beating Blue Laureate by three-and-a-quarter lengths. The favourite that day was Godolphin’s Setting Sail back in fourth, who ran well enough on Oaks day when fourth behind Mountain Angel. Sextant was raised 8lbs by the handicapper for that victory on seasonal reappearance, but with more improvement to come Ryan Moore can guide home a Royal Winner at Epsom in the eyes of Her Majesty The Queen.
Sextant @ 15/8 4th
Good luck! – Jake Price