We are in for a real treat on Friday with Epsom laying host to the Oaks and the Coronation Cup. Both races look like top contest and even though the Oaks is a classic, I’m most looking forward to the Coronation cup which sees Old Persian, Lah Ti Dar and Kew Gardens all renewing rivalry from last seasons St Leger. This looks like an absolute belter, throw in the Woodcote and two quality handicaps and it all adds up to a great days racing.
This race is the curtain opener on Oaks day at Epsom and the although the race has been won by some decent sorts down through the years there has been no standout winner. Richard Hannon Jnr has won three of the last six runnings of this contest and it would have been four only for De Bruyne Horse being disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance.
Oh Purple Reign is his sole representative this year and the son of Sir Prancealot ran on well when winning on debut at Nottingham. He needs to improve plenty if he’s to take this but Hannon’s record alone makes him of interest.
Pinatubo was a very easy winner on debut at Wolverhampton and the second and third in that contest have since won. He looks like a real nice prospect and one to follow.
The other horse of note is Misty Grey who showed marked improvement for a runaway victory at Ripon having run moderately on debut. We all know that Mark Johnston’s horses tend to improve with racing and he can’t be ruled out.
The King Power racing team have been tremendous form and Rayong has already won once this season when taking a Carlisle maiden. The winner of that race last season went on to win this very race and he’ll be looking repeat the feat.
The Queen’s Seniority is having his first run since a light campaign in Dubai where he ran with credit. He was the subject of a monster gamble for last season’s Royal Hunt Cup where he was slightly disappointing and I’d imagine this will be a prep run for that race once again.
Hayadh has had a great start to the season, filling the places on all four starts thus far. It looked like a 91 wasn’t out of the question when he finished third at York earlier in the month but you’d like to think there are better-handicapped horses in the race.
I think the stiff mile will suit History Writer who seems to have improved for a gelding operation during the winter. He was a beaten favourite when last seen at work but off just one pound higher he should be in the shake-up.
Firmament represents the red hot O’Meara/Tudhope combination but it’s worrying that he’s won two of his thirty-six start on turf. He’s two-pounds lower than his last winning mark and looks to have a good opportunity of finding the winning bracket
Kew Gardens took last season’s St Leger when proving too good for Lah Ti Dar but couldn’t buck the curse of St Leger winners in the Arc afterwards. He looked slightly laboured in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester behind Morando but the ground was far too soft to do himself justice and a much-improved performance can be expected here.
The aforementioned Morando did look good at Chester but the ground was very much in his favour and I think he may struggle to uphold the form with Kew Gardens now.
Dubai Sheema Classic winner Old Persian makes his first turf start of the season here but has ground to make up on the principals based on their running in last seasons St Leger. Charlie Appleby’s charge looked better than ever in Meydan and could prove difficult to beat.
Salouen was nearly the source of one of the biggest upset of last season when only beaten a head by Cracksman in this contest twelve months ago. Sylvester Kirk’s stable star looked better than ever when winning at Ascot and should once again run well.
Lah Ti Dar has won four of her six career starts to date, with both losses coming in Group 1 company behind Kew Gardens and Magical. She put in a pleasing performance in a Group 2 at York and she’ll give the favourite plenty to think about it.
Selection: Kew Gardens
Elector will be the choice of many in this 1-mile 2-furlong contest for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore. The Queen’s four-year-old won on seasonal reappearance at Newmarket at the start of May and a two-pound hike in the weights looks pretty fair. The slight step up in trip should prove no problem and he holds leading claims.
Jazeel finished in-behind Elector at Newmarket on his first start for new connections and if building on that then he could reverse the form.
Roger Varian’s Mountain Angel put in a career-best performance to win on seasonal debut at Epsom but I think a mark of 101 might just hinder his chances here.
The lightly raced Setting Sail has shown definite promise in four runs and looked a non-stayer the last day. This drop down in trip will definitely suit and he must enter calculations.
Selection: Setting Sail
Aidan O’Brien runs Pink Dogwood here and although she ran well in the Marcel Boussac at the end of last season, she wasn’t quite good enough to get her head in front. She looks like the type of mare to improve with age and for a step up in trip. She was a ready winner on seasonal reappearance and is one of the leading contenders.
Frankellina was just touched off in the Musidora on seasonal debut after being left at the start. She stayed on well that day and the extra yardage looks set to bring about further improvement from the daughter of Frankel. Of the bigger priced runners I think she represents value and could reach the frame.
The John Gosden pair of Anapurna and Mehdaayih both hold leading claims here with the former a very impressive winner of the Lingfield RaceBets Oaks Trial and has lots of untapped potential. Meanwhile, the more experienced Mehdaayih has progressed nicely this year, winning a two-runner handicap and then was a very easy winner of the Cheshire Oaks. Both fillies look sure to be involved with a possible 1-2 not out of the question.
Selection: Frankellina – E/W