Saturday Betting Tips: Epsom
I hope you all enjoyed last weekend’s lovely results. We managed plenty of nice winners along with a decent amount of profit to ensure we had a brilliant Saturday. I am pleased to announce I will be providing two horse racing articles per week in my column for Horse Race Ratings, and this weekend I will be covering both Saturday and Sunday racing, which is great news. All of Saturday’s Epsom tips can be found below. I have posted all tips early as possible to make sure we all get the best value and so you have plenty of time to place the bets. As always, I do hope you all have a great weekend and fingers crossed our success from last week is carried over to this weekend with hopefully a few more winners to come.
13.50 (Woodcote Stakes)
INHALER (13.50 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @13/2)
This is a competitive race to start the day with bundles of the field bringing good-looking profiles into the contest. I strongly suspect this race will provide several future winners so with that in mind, I am keen to look towards the backend of the betting market and take a punt on INHALER, a general 6/1 chance at the time of writing.
I am very mindful of the fact Karl Burke has a good bunch of youngsters to go to war with this season, including Inhaler who justified strong support on debut before narrowly getting touched off by Toussarok when attempting to concede 7lb to him last time out, and that was a performance far from the ordinary from my point of view. Inhaler clearly has pretensions to improve further, so now he’s stepped up in class for today’s contest that looks as though it may have been the plan for a while, I think he offers decent each-way value.
14.25 (Surrey Stakes)
SAFE VOYAGE (14.25 Epsom, 1.5pt win @11/8)
SHINE SO BRIGHT (14.25 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @9/2)
Another competitive-looking race is on the card at Epsom, but I am quietly confident we are on the winner of the race with one of the two selections I will provide. As boring as it might seem, I think the favourite and top-rated SAFE VOYAGE will take a good deal of beating. His best efforts have come on deeper ground, though he’s proven himself to handle all types of ground previously.
There is no getting away from Safe Voyage’s exploits in 2019, where he won Group 3/Listed races before placing in multiple Group 2 races. However, his final two races that campaign were arguably career-best performances, finishing respectable fourth and third places in Group 1 company that have worked out extremely well. The two races mentioned above were in the Prix De La Foret and QEII, and both look the best pieces of form in this field.
Meanwhile, his seasonal debut “neck second” behind last year’s winner of this race Space Blues is solid form, especially with the winner boosting the form since, by winning in France recently. Ultimately, Safe Voyage would be a much happier horse with plenty of cut in the ground, but that’s the way it goes and I think he will get away with it here being the class-act in the race for sure, and especially bringing Group 1 form to the table against various handicappers.
The only other runner capable of beating Safe Voyage according to the ratings is speedball SHINE SO BRIGHT, a former Group 2 winner who will relish the fast conditions. He’s displayed three underwhelming performances since defeating Lauren’s to win the Group 2 contest at York, but you can give him the benefit of the doubt considering the level of opposition he faced. Shine So Bright may lack that star quality, but he more than makes up for that with his gutsy front-running winning attitude and that trait looks set to provide him with an outstanding each-way chance.
15.00 (Investec Handicap)
SUCELLUS (15.00 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @20/1
DATA PROTECTION (15.00 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @25/1
This is a wide-open handicap with a variety of runners looking ahead of their mark, so I think the best policy is to try and find those who represent some decent each-way value in the race and I think I’ve done just that. One horse in particular who caught my eye at Royal Ascot a few weeks ago was SUCELLUS. He remains open to considerable improvement, and ran better than the result suggested when finishing midfield in the Silver Royal Hunt Cup. Although he finished behind stablemate Presidential, it speaks volumes that Ben Curtis decided to partner this youngster instead that day, obviously indicating he is well-treated. He was never going to be involved in the finish being drawn woefully in stall 7, but he fared better than most who were on the far side of the race and he is 2lb lower for today’s easier contest.
I appreciate DATA PROTECTION has a lot to find on ratings, but I think this could be a shrewd bit of placing by his trainer. There could be an element of him needing a run or two to put him straight but he now has a couple runs under his belt and from a betting perspective looks well worth punting at the foot of the weights carrying just 8-1. His best performances have come on Epsom’s undulation track with form figures reading an impressive 1, 3, 1, 2 from four races. That’s enough reasoning to suggest a bold run is expected from the five-year-old.
15.40 (Investec Oaks)
FRANKLY DARLING (15.40 Epsom, 1.5pt win @2/1
GOLD WAND (15.40 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @14/1
The first of two classics on Epsom’s card is the Epsom Oaks, and I have picked out two selections for the race. One way of looking at this race is comparing the two market leaders from a form perspective - Love and Frankly Darling. Now it’s obvious to see that Love was so dominant in the 1,000 Guineas, establishing herself to be a top-class filly without a shadow of doubt. But as much as I like her and think she is probably the right favourite, I think her rating of 116 is questionable and Ryan Moore’s record around Epsom is quite poor in all honesty (only 9% of winners).
On the other hand, Frankie Dettori is exceptional around here (22% of winners) and he is aboard the highly promising and second favourite FRANKLY DARLING. She remains completely unexposed having run just three times, including when pummelling a good field at Royal Ascot last time out in a Group 2 contest. She comes here with the perfect-looking profile and that latest impressive saw the handicapper give her a 20lb hike in ratings from a mark of 90 to 110. So providing she settles better this time, there is no question she will improve again here while having all the credentials to provide her handler John Gosden with another huge-race success.
Excluding the two market principles, this race is wide-open for the third spot and if those two did underperform then GOLD WAND could cause a minor shock. I think her form entitles her to the utmost respect, especially her debutant second when narrowly touched off by Domino Darling who was around 10/1 for the Epsom Oaks before being pulled out last week. She backed up that promise when comfortably landing the odds of 8/11 last time out, shaping as though a step up in trip would only benefit her in the long run. She does have a lot to find with the two market leaders on overall form and ratings, but she is open to further progression and could easily go well at a nice price representing Andrea Atzeni and Roger Varian who hold one of the best trainer/jockey combinations on the downs.
16.15 (Princess Elizabeth Stakes)
SUMMER ROMANCE (16.15 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @15/2
FOORAAT (16.15 Epsom, 1pt win @2/1
An interesting fillies event that is sure to work out well further down the line. Charlie Appleby has a very high strike-rate with his three-year-olds at Epsom and SUMMER ROMANCE looks a standout each-way proposition. A winner of her first two starts including a Listed success by six lengths, she disappointed when only sixth in a Group 3 at Ascot next time when sent off 4/5 favourite.
Having said that, she bounced back to form with a fine third in another Group 3 afterwards, and was far from disgraced when finishing eighth of 15 in the 1,000 Guineas on her return to action. It’s appealing to see that connections bypassed Royal Ascot with her compared to plenty of others in this field. All of her runs in defeat have been perfectly respectable efforts, so now entered in much calmer waters, I fully expect this good-looking imposing daughter of Kingman to step on the gas and play a leading role.
I am happy to take the shortened odds about FOORAAT who heads the market following her 7 length romp at Chelmsford 26 days ago. She is 2-2 in her career, so it is very hard to knock her chances in this race. Yes, she does need to improve again to trouble those rated higher than her, but she is entitled to do that with more improvement to come, and I think Roger Varian has an above-average filly on his hands here. Furthermore, I’m happy to take my chances on her, though I’d have liked a bit higher odds truth be told, but hopefully she will take a little walk in the market!
16.55 (Epsom Derby)
KAMEKO (16.55 Epsom, 1pt win @4/1
EMISSARY (16.55 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @33/1 (Four places available with most firms)
MOGUL (16.55 Epsom,1pt win @5/1
An intriguing renewal of the Epsom Derby, on a variety of levels, and this is probably one of the widest-open renewals in recent years, hence why I’m taking on the favourite English King. I know he won well last time out and recorded a good time figure when beating Berkshire Rocco, but I think he’s poor value and if you ignore his potential, it's not easy to understand why he is such a short price.
Now, of course, KAMEKO is not guaranteed to stay the trip based on breeding and his natural speed, but he is by far the best horse in the race and I think he is worth a chance. All of his form apart from being unproven over the distance, firmly puts him at the top of the list, and from my point of view, he should be favourite here. Ignoring his stamina, all of his form makes him the perfect Derby horse as he ticks nearly every box in the race. Interestingly, Kameko is actually the ONLY Group 1 winner in the field and he’s won two! Not only that, but he’s also rated 7lb higher than English King, so with all things considered, he would be odds-on favourite if he’d already proven himself over the trip but we will find that out on Saturday, and if he does stay, then 4/1 about Kameko is huge.
Looking at those at double-figure odds, I think it might be worth having an each-way dabble on EMISSARY who is Hugo Palmer’s first ever runner in the Derby. He’s closely related to former Derby winner Workforce, so I wouldn’t have any qualms about his stamina with it most likely being his forte. Connections were left disappointed he couldn’t reel-in Khalifa Sat last time out when losing his unbeaten record, but that was down to a messy race where the winner had it all his own way up front.
I strongly suspect Emissary will reverse the form here because he travelled the best out of the two that day and had the least experience of the pair. The Derby obviously requires plenty more at this exalted level and, having had only two races, his inexperience is also a niggle, but he’s drawn well in stall 4 and this race has been the plan for a very long time. I like the fact that Jim Crowley who rides this track very well, was booked to ride him a while back, so with the necessary improvement likely to come, I think he has an outstanding chance of outrunning his ridiculous odds.
This selection will leave many of you thinking why on earth would you pick MOGUL to win the Derby following a disappointing Group 2 fourth at Royal Ascot a few weeks ago. Initially, I wouldn’t have had him on my radar at all, but his form has worked out well each time and he’s bred to enjoy the distance here. Although a beaten odds-on favourite at Royal Ascot, Mogul did travel the best that day before blowing out in the final furlong. I noticed Ryan Moore wasn’t hard on him when he knew his chance had gone, clearly indicating that he would be saved for another day having looked rather lethargic whilst carrying plenty of condition. That run was also his first start for well over 200 days, so he was entitled to have needed it badly.
There are, of course, some serious rivals here, but Mogul will definitely have improved from his fourth last time out and it’s significant that Ryan Moore has chosen to stay loyal to him over Irish 2,000 second Vatican City and also Russian Emperor who he rode to win at Royal Ascot. Ryan Moore wouldn’t have made that choice for no reason, and he clearly thinks Mogul has the best chance of winning the race along with the fact he holds a 53% place strike-rate aboard three-year-olds in non-handicap races around Epsom. Therefore, I’m going to tip Mogul to win at around 5/1.
*Please be aware that stall 2 and 11 have a poor record of winning the race (Mogul and Kameko) but sometimes it is worth taking a few risks, and hopefully it pays off this time around.
17.35 (Zebra Handicap)
COMIN’ THROUGH (17.35 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @14/1
COUNT OTTO (17.35 Epsom, 0.5pt each-way @12/1
The concluding race on today’s card is the ultra-competitive Zebra Handicap and I have two picked out that will hopefully see us finish the meeting with a nice return. One that I’ve put under the microscope is the George Scott trained COMIN’ THROUGH who looks ahead of the handicapper reflecting on his previous form. He was a Group 1 winner when trained in Australia and found life tough last season in the UK when competing in some major races off marks beyond the 100 mark.
This year has seen his mark dip well below that mark in two starts. Most notably, his seasonal debut sixth at Newcastle off a mark 93 was rather interesting with that race working out well as the winner Sir Busker won the Silver Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and the runner-up Dark Vision won the main event the same week. Comin’ Through took another step in the right direction when third at Newmarket last time out off this weekend’s mark and we can expect those two runs to have put him straight for this race. The bare form of those two defeats basically puts him alongside most, if not all, in here from a form perspective and he’s well worth an each-way punt in a tricky affair.
Finally, I am gobsmacked to see COUNT OTTO so big in the betting with plenty of firms. His winning strike-rate doesn’t justify his excellent runs in defeat because he does need an awful lot of luck in running with his style of racing. But, his two previous outings at Epsom have resulted with a win off a mark of 86 and second last year off a mark 90 when carrying a huge weight of 9-10. It seems to me that connections have plotted this race out for him for quite a while, hence why Jim Crowley has been booked to ride. I think providing the gaps appear for him at a crucial stage, there is every chance he can win this because from a form perspective, everything points to a bold showing, especially being one of the well-handicapped horses in the race with course form always being a plus.