Neil Morrice shares all of his best bets and tips for Friday’s racing coming your way from day 1 of the Epson Downs Derby Festival on 2 June 2023.
Epsom Downs Derby Festival: Video Previews
Take a look at Neil’s video previews for the Betfred Oaks and the Coronation Cup coming your way from the Epsom Downs Derby Festival below:
EPSOM DOWNS DERBY FESTIVAL DAY ONE
Race 1 No1 BALON D’OR
Trainer: Hugo Palmer – Jockey: James Doyle
A low draw counts for much in the Woodcote Stakes, and BALON D’OR will benefit from breaking from the plum gate in 3. The son of Kodiac is a speedy individual who finished third in the Lily Agnes and has the balance required to handle these undulations as he tackles quicker ground than at Chester. Haatem should make a bold bid to boost Richard Hannon’s good record in this, and rates the danger.
Race 3 DAHLBURY CORONATION CUP (Group 1)
Trainer: Pieter Schiergen – Jockey: Rene Piechulek
One certainty is that TUNNES will start the outsider of five in a top-drawer renewal of this historic race for older horses. The German challenger is a new kid on the block in terms of racing in Britain, but is being campaigned like a good horse and was not disgraced when posting a mid-division finish in the Japan Cup back in November. Granted Schiergen’s record when raiding our shores, the Group 1 Preis Von Bayern winner might have been hastily overlooked by the bookies, and can put in an earning effort that defies his long odds.
WESTOVER was in many people’s view unlucky not to go close in the Derby 12 months ago, and after chasing the shadow of Equinox in Dubai has a chance to put the record straight over the same terrain and distance, although EMILY UPJOHN came away with a similar hard luck story when pipped by Tuesday in the Oaks and is going to be hard to beat with the advantage of her 3lb sex allowance for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
Aidan O’Brien fires a big gun in the tough-as-teak POINT LONSDALE, who battled hard for the spoils in the Huxley Stakes at Chester, while Godolphin’s HURRICANE LANE bounced back from a poor comeback run to squeak home in first-time cheekpieces at Newmarket. It was an important step up for the former St Leger winner, but he looks the weakest of the home contingent in a top-class renewal.
Prediction: 1st TUNNES, 2nd Emily Upjohn, 3rd Westover, 4th Point Lonsdale
Race 4 No9 MAJESTIC (Each Way)
Trainer: Jack Channon – Jockey: Connor Beasley
Honiton and Marhaba The Champ are horses that jump off the page as strong protagonists for this interesting handicap and both are capable of following-up recent cosy successes. However, MAJESTIC is a horse that’s been crying out for a mile and a quarter and looks a tempting proposition granted how well he finished off his race at York last month. Winner of last season’s Cambridgeshire and fourth over an inadequate trip in the Lincoln, he is closely matched with Marhaba The Champ and Dual Identity on the book but can confirm his superiority over those opponents on a big day for rookie trainer Jack Channon.
Prediction: 1st MAJESTIC, 2nd Dual Identity, 3rd Honiton, 4th Marhaba The Champ
Race 5 BETFRED OAKS (Group 1)
No8 RUNNING LION
Trainer: John Gosden – Jockey: Oisin Murphy
Murphy’s first ride in a Classic happened in this race, and it would be a fitting scenario were the former champion jockey to prevail on RUNNING LION granted the trials and tribulations he’s experienced over the past three years. Since returning to competitive riding he’s exuded a focussed determination to put his demons behind him, and gave this daughter of Roaring Lion a peach to take out the Pretty Polly over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket. The combination impressively bounded clear, and although a question mark remains on her ability to see out the extra quarter mile on breeding, such was her dominance that I think she can successfully make the jump from Listed to Group 1 winner.
SAVETHELASTDANCE was a wide-margin winner of the Cheshire Oaks and has subsequently been backed as if defeat is out of the question in this Classic. The Galileo filly was the first to be pushed along on the Roodee, but when the others got tired she galloped all the way to the line to win by the width of the River Dee. There is however no value in the Aidan O’Brien-trained favourite who now encounters quicker ground, and will surely be tested at this highest level.
Roaring Lion’s barn mate SOUL SISTER was an assured winner of the Musidora Stakes at York to show her underwhelming comeback effort in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes to be all wrong. The daughter of Frankel will stay, but for value I recommend a saver on the Jack Channon-trained
CAERNARFON. She passed a lot of fillies to finish fourth in the 1,000 Guineas and has both come in her coat and bloomed in the ensuing weeks. She’s not certain to get the trip, but is a strong traveller who should be factored into all exotic equations, and appeals as a lively win and place proposition.
Prediction: 1st RUNNING LION, 2nd Caernarfon, 3rd Soul Sister, 4th Savethelastdance
Race 7 No6 CLOCHETTE (Nap)
Trainer: Andrew Balding – Jockey: Oisin Murphy
The unexposed CLOCHETTE needs a market check at the very least as she makes her handicap debut in the nightcap. The No Nay Never filly might not have stayed in the Oaks Farm Stables Stakes at York, and now pulled back from Listed company is one that if I’m behind, I will look to jump out of jail on.
Race 2 No6 CHELSEA SQUARE (Nap)
Trainer: Ralph Beckett – Jockey: Hector Crouch
CHELSEA SQUARE looked a winner waiting to happen when finding only one to beat him on debut at Newbury. His trainer looks to have uncovered a very good opportunity for the Exceed And Excel gelding to go one better.
Race 6 No11 VAGUELY ROYAL
Trainer: John Gosden – Jockey: Kieran Shoemark
VAGUELY ROYAL is another maiden representing a top division trainer that appears to have everything going for him. The Galileo colt chased home a talented foe on his Newmarket introduction and can go one better.
Race 1 No2 MAGIC SAINT (Nap)
Trainer: Paul Nicholls – Jockey: Miss Olive Nicholls
MAGIC SAINT finds himself in calmer waters than when troubling the judge at Cheltenham last time. He’s a handy type that should be equally as effective on this tight track.
Race 6 No3 CAPTAIN BIGGLES
Trainer: T Ellis – Jockey: Miss Gina Andrews
CAPTAIN BIGGLES has run up an impressive sequence between the flags. He has a top amateur at the helm and can stave off the strong challenge of Raleigh Flora.
Race 6 No4 NORTHCLIFF (Nap)
Trainer: Tim Easterby – Jockey: David Allan
NORTHCLIFF holds an experience edge over his rivals after running in handicaps. He’s not stepped up to the plate in that division, but on the best of his juvenile form has a great chance to belatedly open his account.