Good morning all,
The Derby Festival is one of my favourite meetings. Mainly because of the Oaks and of course the Derby. The handicaps on the undercard are normally competitive. Although I’m not sure they were this year.
Over the next couple of days, I will be looking at some of my personal highlights from the Cazoo Derby Festival.
Inside today’s main piece it’s day one and of course the Oaks that comes under the microscope. Plus, I have looked at couple of today’s races at Listowel & Gowran Park.
Cazoo Derby Festival: Oaks Day
Epsom saw more rain than expected on Friday and looking at the times the card took place on soft ground rather than the official going description of good to soft.
It was the speedy juveniles who got the meeting underway. With Oscula stealing the headlines by winning the Woodcote Stakes for trainer George Boughey. The winner and eventual runner-up Flaming Rib were always front rank and it was the filly who proved too strong in the final two furlongs.
George Boughey has done really well with his juveniles this season with 14 winners from 31 runners 45% +18.83 18 placed 58%.
The exciting Al Aasy was a warm order for the Group 1 Coronation Cup. Even though he was having his first start in Group 1 company. The softening of the ground saw good support for recent Ascot winner Albaflora. The latter ran well for a long way to finish 4th but found the step-up class too much.
Pyledriver one of the feel-good stories of last summer was given a super ride by jockey Martin Dwyer. Coming down the hill he made a move to take up the running from Highland Chief. Approaching the final furlong Al Aasy loomed up alongside Pyledriver and he briefly took the lead, looking like he would go on to score.
Sadly, for favourite backers Pyledriver wasn’t going down without a fight. He rallied well and refused to be beaten to get back up to win by a neck at the finish.
Al Aasy looks capable of winning in Group 1 company this season. On this occasion he was just beaten by colt with a fantastic attitude.
Given his connections Pyledriver was always likely to be underestimated by punters. He could well win a King George at Ascot and maybe even an Arc but he wouldn’t want the ground to be too firm.
Japan would have liked quicker ground but ran well enough in third. Stablemate Mogul finished last of the six runners and he doesn’t like soft ground either. He will do better when getting better ground.
Winning jockey Martyn Dwyer joined a small group of jockey’s who have managed to win a Derby, Oaks and Coronation Cup.
Snowfall Slices Through Oaks Field
Santa Barbara was sent off a weakish 5/2 favourite for the second fillies classic.
On paper it looked an opening looking renewal. In fact, it turned out to be anything but. Snowfall who had made the running to win York’s Musidora Stakes on her previous start was far too good for her thirteen rivals.
Coming to the descent into Tattenham Corner Snowfall was in the rear with her stablemate Santa Barbara. She made smooth headway through the field in the straight. Taking it up two she soon powered clear of the field to win by 16 (sixteen) lengths.
Mystery Angel who had taken the field along most of the way, quickened it up in the straight. She had most of her rivals in trouble and you wondered for a few strides if she might go on to cause a 50/1 shock. It wasn’t to be and she was no match for Snowfall in the final two furlongs. Still, she ran a cracker and managed to hold second.
Another O’Brien runner Divinely ran on well at the finish to take third, albeit 17 ½ lengths behind her stablemate. She made her challenge out wider than the two fillies who finished in front of her and looks the sort to improve again. Back in fourth was Save A Forest who could stay further than 1m 4f.
Santa Barbara very highly regarded by Aidan O’Brien didn’t run badly in 5th. Still looking inexperienced, on just her third career start, she made good headway two furlongs out but her effort rather flattened out between the final two furlongs.
You can often get exaggerated winning distances at Epsom on Friday’s ground. However, that shouldn’t take anything away from the winner. Snowfall is a high class, she stayed the 1m 4f well and loved the soft ground, she will be tough to beat against her own sex and should be able to hold her own against the boys later in the season. Even at this early stage she's a worthy Arc favourite at around 5/1.
Santa Barbara has a bit to prove now. However, I don’t think we have seen the best of her yet. A more conventional track will suit her, as should better ground. I’m not sure she got the 1m 4f and she will now drop back in distance to 1m 2f. A Group 1 could still come her way this season.
Strait Of Hormuz – Jedd O’Keeffe
Strait Of Hormuz was well fancied for the 1m 2f Cazoo handicap won by Blue Cup. The 4-year-old has been expected to come on well for his York reappearance effort but disappointed in finishing only 6th of the ten runners.
He’s not one to give up on just yet. The ground probably didn’t really suit him and as he showed when winning at Doncaster last September a more conventional track will suit him better. He’s on a competitive mark and may drop a pound or two for this effort. He can win again when back to his best.
It’s a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show today. However, it’s not often that you see a horse like Samcro run on a Monday in June. You do today, as the 9-year-old runs in the 4:05 at Listowel.
4:05 – Samcro took advantage of better ground and the drop back into Grade 3 company when winning at Killarney last month. If anything, this race looks easier and he will take all the beating. His main rival could be the mare Abbey Magic. Trained by the inform Henry De Bromhead the 10-year-old won a valuable handicap chase at Cork last September on good ground. She's run well on both starts since a winter break and last time was an 8¼ length third of 13 in mares handicap chase at Punchestown. Even getting the allowances she has a bit to find with Samcro at the weights but she’s a solid enough each way contender on ground that will suit. Her stablemate Ornua maybe better over a bit shorter but is another that will appreciate quick ground and has place claims.
2:20 – Ice Cold In Alex is on a losing run that goes back almost three years. However, he’s useful when at his best, as he showed when a ½ length 3rd of 17 at Leopardstown in April. Not so good on either subsequent start but shaped better than the result suggests when a 4½ lengths 9th of 19 back at Leopardstown 4-days ago. When all the cards do fall right, he’s on a mark he can win off. Let’s hope that’s today.
2:20 – Ice Cold In Alex – 8/1 @Bet365 & Paddy Power (E/W).
Good luck with your Monday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk