I LOVE Epsom and it holds many happy memories for me as I was fortunate enough to win the Oaks four times and the Derby three times during my career.
There is going to be some excellent action over the next couple of days and hopefully I can point you in the direction of a winner or two during the festival.
Royal Ascot is the aim for him if he can put up a strong performance in this. On what I saw at Ripon last time, he looks to have a really good chance in this race. I know trainer Mark Johnston likes the horse a lot and can get the meeting off to a flyer.
I’ve always loved the Coronation Cup and you often get a really good horse turn up in it, but this year it looks a weak race compared to previous editions. The one that stands out to me here is Old Persian. I love this horse and he did us a good turn in my blog during the Dubai World Cup Carnival too. He’ll go around Epsom no problem and I wouldn’t have any concerns about how he is coming into the race off a break. Kew Gardens was disappointing at Chester last time and I’m not convinced by Lah Ti Dar, so I think Old Persian is the one to be with.
I’m delighted to see Rab Havlin retain the ride on Medhaayih in the Oaks. Rab’s an excellent jockey and has done nothing wrong on the horse so why take him off? He’s ridden lovely races on her, he has lovely hands and I think he deserves to ride her. I thought she was very impressive at Chester and I think John Gosden’s other runner Anapurna is interesting too. However, I can’t get away from Pink Dogwood. My guys in Ballydoyle have been saying for a while how nice a filly she is, and the speed figures she clocked at Navan last time are eyecatching as well. The one that might give her most to think about is Maqsad. She won the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket, which I won on Ouija Board before going on to win at Epsom, and her trainer William Haggas is rarely too far away when he has runners in these races.
A crazy race to ride in with 20 horses running flat out downhill on the fastest course in the country. Duke Of Firenze is on a roll having won his last two races and is well handicapped based on previous performances – he likes Epsom too. The other one which caught my eye was definitely Daschas. He has a lovely low weight, is trained by a good trainer in Stuart Williams and is drawn perfectly in stall 20. I think he’s got a strong chance in this race as well.
The biggest and best race of the year and one I won three times on Oath (1999), Kris Kin (2003) and North Light (2004). Kris Kin was different to the other two in that he was supplemented for the race at the start of Derby week, something connections of Sir Dragonet and Telecaster have done this year and it’s a no-brainer of a decision in my opinion. Look, if you’ve got a horse you think is good enough to go and run in the Derby and have a chance then you have to be there – it’s as simple as that. Telecaster was good in winning the Dante but Sir Dragonet produced a serious speed figure when winning the Chester Vase last time out and he looks to have all the potential in the world. I think he will be this year’s Derby winner. My biggest concern with him is, if the ground is really quick, how he handle running downhill. He enjoyed the cut in the ground at Chester so it’s a question he’s going to have to answer but then that’s the Derby. He’s ridden by Ryan Moore but I know he’s had a hard time over the last week choosing between Sir Dragonet and Broome, who won the Derrinstown Derby Trial last time. As such, I’d consider him the most likely danger and wouldn’t rule him out at all.
Sir Michael Stoute is a master of his craft and I’d be hugely shocked if he doesn’t have a winner at Epsom over the two days. You see, Stoutey loves a winner at Epsom and always lines one up for the meeting. This year I think Sextant fits the bill on that front. He’s owned by the Queen, who will be at the course, and was a good winner at Newmarket last time. He’ll definitely improve for that run and he’d be my banker of the two days.