Epsom selections Saturday 5th June
Derby Day and we have an unusual situation for the big race with Aidan O’Brien saddling just one runner for the first time since Galileo won in 2001. Does that suggest he thinks favourite Bolshoi Ballet is unbeatable, or are his crop of 3yo colts just not up to their usual standard? Whilst he is a worthy market leader, I think he is worth taking on at the odds. I have an each-way selection for the big race, plus selections in the three good handicaps either side of the feature. Divinely was placed for the each-way Oaks bet yesterday (20/1).
The Dash (3.45) will no doubt be the usual story of luck in running being required. Pace can last at Epsom – but that final furlong can even catch front-runners out on the straight course and I have two horses in this that will be finishing strongly, if their jockeys can find a path through.
ONLY SPOOFING has largely raced in England despite his owner being Irish, but he is based with Kevin Coleman in County Tipperary this season. The 7yo bounced back to form returning to 5f last time, storming through with the use of a high draw to win at Navan. Whilst he has plenty of winning performances over a stiff 5f, he did win at Glorious Goodwood over the downland 5f there last summer, which bodes well for today’s test.
He is up 9lbs for that Navan win – though that will include an adjustment to align Irish and British ratings. However he also has the potentially important draw in twenty alongside the near rail. That could be a big help, provided Tom Marquand can find a way through. He is usually able to travel well enough in his races close to the pace to suggest he won’t need to make up too much ground late.
HAN SOLO BERGER is a specialist 5f horse and is back to a winning mark of 85 now. His last win came off 2lbs higher at Wolverhampton last autumn and he showed real signs of being back at park form at Ascot last time. He led close home there on a track that favours stamina more, but he is all about speed and this track should be perfect for him.
He is very adaptable regarding ground conditions, so if there remains any juice in the ground that is of no concern and he was second here on his only previous visit back in 2018.
Godolphin outnumber Ballydoyle in the 2021 renewal of the Derby (4.30) and I like the claims of HURRICANE LANE here. We saw the Oaks go to the winner of the York Trial and Hurricane Lane won the Dante in fine fashion last month.
Travelling well into the straight, he was under pressure 3f out, but responded really well to William Buick’s urges as he saw off Megallan by just under a length. That maintained his unbeaten record after previous successes at Newbury and Newmarket. His dam Gale Force was a three time winner at 2m, whilst full brother Frankels Storm won over this 12f trip as a 3yo at Pontefract so if anything which should expect more from this colt up in distance today. He has had no issue racing prominently in the past, something which is often an advantage in this race.
Back in 2019, SOTO SIZZLER (5.15) landed the big handicap double at this track of the Great Met and this contest. This year he has already placed second in the Great Met and as Epsom clearly suits this offers him a find opportunity of another big prize.
Whilst he is definitely better on quick going, the fact this race goes off so late will help as I expect the ground to be good by race time, especially on the fresh ground on the inside. He is 4lbs better off with Group One Power for that April run. The winner that day got an easy lead and I think the selection can turn the tables for just a 3/4l defeat. There does not look great strength in depth amongst his other rivals and with trainer David Menuisier already off the mark at this meeting, I think Soto Sizzler can maintain his love affair for Epsom.
Draw advantage is usually crucial in the finale (5.50) but with so many non-runners this no longer looks an issue today. EJTILAAB was heavily punted to win at Chester last week, but ran into a well handicapped horse in Boardman and lost nothing in defeat. That they try again around another tight track suggests he is in fine form at home and the key could be the drop in trip from an extended 7f to 6f.
He won on his only try at this distance, on debut at Doncaster when with Roger Varian. However he has just tied up close home over 7f before, such as at Musselburgh first time out and perhaps this 6f with an uphill finish might work out perfectly for the 5yo.
1pt each-way – Only Spoofing – 3.45 Epsom – 10/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Han Solo Berger – 3.45 Epsom – 18/1 Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way – Hurricane Lane – 4.30 Epsom – 6/1 Paddy Power, BetVictor (1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt each-way – Soto Sizzler – 5.15 Epsom – 9/2 William Hill, BetVictor
1pt win – Ejtilaab – 5.50 Epsom – 4/1 general