Epsom Derby & Oaks Betting Tips – 31st May & 1st June 2019

Due to the bank holiday weekend many people had just four days work this week. That’s not enough of a break for some racing fans who will also be taking Friday off so they can head to Epsom Downs in order to take in the first day of action from the Derby Festival.

The two day meeting is headlined by the third and fourth English Classics of the flat racing season: the Oaks and the Derby.

These are the premier middle distance races for members of the Classic generation and both are set up to be excellent renewals.

News – Telecaster Supplemented for the Derby

Connections of Telecaster are clearly confident about his chances in the Derby as they paid a cool £85,000 to supplement their colt into Saturday’s big race. The Hughie Morrison-trained Telecaster was already highly thought of before his win in the Dante Stakes at York but it was that performance that got them believing Derby success could be on the cards.

Weather

Epsom Festival Weather Forecast for 2019

Forecast via Met Office

It’s not just the flat racing season that is heating up ahead of the third and fourth Classics. The weather forecast suggests that it’s going to be a hot one at Epsom for the Derby and the Oaks. Temperatures are set to hit 25oC with sun likely to break through some early cloud cover. That’s great news for the thousands of fans heading to Epsom Downs but will pose some challenges for those looking after the horses.

The Oaks

Friday 4:10

Group 1, 1m4f

It’s only relatively recently that the ante post market for the Oaks has started to look as many punters would expect it to look. The Oaks appeared incredibly open over the winter with the favourite available at odds of 16/1 but performances in the earlier part of the flat racing season have changed things considerably and in Mehdaayih and Pink Dogwood we now have two fairly strong horses at the head of the market.

Mehdaayih’s billing as the 9/4 favourite is thanks to her very impressive win in the Cheshire Oaks earlier in May. The pace she showed over 1m3½f on good to soft ground at Chester marked her out as a real contender for the Oaks and supplementing her for Epsom was a no brainer. Pink Dogwood also won a Listed race last time out, triumphing over a distance of 1m2f on yielding ground at Navan. Her performance wasn’t quite as impressive but she should get even better for the step up to a mile and a half so is getting a lot of support at 3/1 with bet365.

As easy is it may be to make a case for both of Mehdaayih and Pink Dogwood, winning favourites have been outnumbered by horses priced 20/1 or longer in recent renewals of the Oaks and this is a strong field so an each way bet on one of those a little further down the betting could be wise.

Iridessa is the most appealing each way option at 20/1 with Betfair. Racing fans debated whether her two-year-old form was as impressive as it looked with a win in the Fillies’ Mile and she has been a little disappointing so far this season. However, this is the first time she’s stepped up over a mile and with breeding suggesting that should bring the best out of her, Iridessa might just give Joseph O’Brien another huge success.

The Derby

Saturday 4:30

Group 1, 1m4f

Wings Of Eagles and Masar have upset the applecart in the Derby. Punters were beginning to really enjoy themselves with winners regularly coming from the top two or three of the betting market but 40/1 and 16/1 successes in the last two years have forced something of a rethink. The depth of quality available for the 2019 renewal suggests more big priced success is by no means out of the question but those a little further down the betting will need their best performance to beat the likes of Sir Dragonet (3/1 with bet365), Broome (9/2 with BetVictor) and Telecaster (5/1 with Coral).

Telecaster’s supplementation for the race has obviously led to a lot of noise being made about his chances and his Dante win did suggest he has the stamina required for the Derby. The favourite, Sir Dragonet, has also been supplemented though after hammering his rivals in the Chester Vase but there are questions about that form and his lack of experience given that it was only his second start.

Of the top three in the betting, it’s Broome who looks the best bet to us. If you were to look only at the form of his last race in a Derby trial at Leopardstown you could be forgiven for not getting too excited but it’s clear that Aidan O’Brien was using that race as little more than a warm up for the big one. Broome’s performances in earlier contests were much more eye catching and he’s another for whom 1m4f could bring out the very best so the 9/2 that BetVictor are quoting is more than fair.

Those looking to try and profit from another longer odds winner of the Derby should consider Line Of Duty at 40/1 with bet365. He made steps forward with almost every performance as a two-year-old, ending with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Setbacks meant Line Of Duty was unable to compete at Newmarket but he may be able to make up for lost time with a big performance in the Derby now that he has his first performance of the season under his belt.

Best of the Rest

Friday 3:10, Coronation Cup

Group 1, 1m4f

Aidan O’Brien knows more than most about winning the Coronation Cup. He’s had seven winners in the last 12 renewals of this Group 1 contest with most of those being sent off as the favourite. O’Brien has the favourite for the 2019 renewal again in the shape of Kew Gardens but will it pay to ignore the chances of last year’s St Leger winner?

Cracksman became the first four-year-old to win the Coronation Cup since St Nicholas Abbey claimed the first of his hat-trick of wins in 2011. Both horses were sent off as heavy favourites for those successes but plenty of well fancied four-year-olds have fallen short in between. Kew Gardens could be the latest to disappoint his backers with Salouen ready to take advantage at 7/1 with Ladbrokes. Salouen looked as good as ever last time out when reversing the form from 12 months ago to win the Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot and the five-year-old can do something similar in the Coronation Cup in which he was beaten only by Cracksman last year.

Saturday 2:35, Princess Elizabeth Stakes

Group 3, 1m½f

The Princess Elizabeth Stakes is one of the biggest races for fillies and mares at the Derby Meeting. It’s held at Group 3 level, takes place over 1m½f and carries a winner’s prize of just over £50,000 which has proven to be enough to attract entries from some big powerful yards. Sir Michael Stoute is one of the big name trainers with an entry in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes and he’s partnered by another big name in Ryan Moore who is booked to ride Veracious, a 5/2 shot with Coral.

Punters are sticking with Veracious who gave her best in her most challenging races last season even after she disappointed last time out at Newmarket. Moore didn’t get the expected kick from her in the Dahlia Stakes and may find himself frustrated once again.

Awesometank is one horse who most definitely will be able to kick strongly for home. Not only does she have an excellent turn of pace, but she showed in her win over 1m at Goodwood last time out that she stays well when challenged. This looks a competitive renewal of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes so Awesometank’s fighting spirit could give her the edge she needs to win at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

Saturday 3:10, Diomed Stakes

Group 3, 1m½f

Diomed was the first ever winner of the Derby back in 1780 and his legacy is remembered at the Derby Meeting every year thanks to this race named in his honour. The Diomed Stakes is a great chance for milers who are still improving to claim a healthy prize for connections and open up doors to competing at a higher level.

Any of those who could potentially kick on by winning the Diomed Stakes, including Zaaki and Bye Bye Hong Kong, will have to get the better of Oh This Is Us who is an incredibly tough competitor. The six-year-old kicked his turf campaign off with a very poor showing in the bet365 Mile but showed that he still has it by battling to second place to Bye Bye Hong Kong last time out at Windsor. The winner showed impressive fighting spirit of his own to make the most of his 13lb allowance but just a slightly better performance from Oh This Is Us could see him claim the win at 5/1 with bet365.

About the Derby Festival

The Derby Festival is a two day meeting at Epsom Downs containing both the Derby and the Oaks. The big races are the third and fourth Classics respectively of the flat racing season and are always highly anticipated contests. Both the Derby and the Oaks are held over a mile and a half and open to three-year-olds but only fillies are eligible for the latter.

The prize funds available for the Derby (£1.5 million in 2018) and the Oaks (£500,000 in 2018) show their importance but there are also some cracking races elsewhere on the cards of the Derby Festival. These include other Group races and other competitive races which often leave punters scratching their heads.

The Derby

The Derby is the fourth British Classic of the year. It’s a Group 1 contest which is run over a distance of one mile and four furlongs and has spurned similar races all over the world. The Derby run at Epsom is the very much the original though and its roots stretch all the way back to 1780. In that time it’s been open to the leading colts and fillies but it’s the colts who have dominated and some of the greatest horses of all time have claimed this prize including Nijinsky, Shergar, Galileo, Sea The Stars and Camelot.

Much like the Oaks, stamina is incredibly important when trying to pick the winner of the Derby. Even those colts who come into the Derby from the 2000 Guineas had a certain amount of stamina in their breeding. It’s not the be all and end all though as the 2018 favourite, Saxon Warrior, showed when he looked too one-paced to get the win and finished in fourth place almost five lengths back from the winner, Masar.

Traditionally, Derby winners have tended to come from the top three in the betting. That has changed a little recently with Wings of Eagles (40/1) and Masar (16/1) making life tougher for punters. It does make sense to focus on horses who are trained by the bigger named trainers with Aidan O’Brien, Sir Michael Stoute both claiming multiple wins since the turn of the millennium as well as wins for John Gosden, Charlie Appleby and Jim Bolger.

The Oaks

The Oaks is the second Classic of the British Flat racing season that is exclusively for fillies. Like the other four Classics, the Oaks is a historic Group 1 event (it was first run in 1779) which is open only to three-year-olds. It also forms part of the Fillies’ Triple Crown alongside the 1000 Guineas and the St Leger but no horse has won all three races since the remarkable Oh So Sharp back in 1985.

Recent renewals of the Oaks don’t suggest that it’s going to change any time soon. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for leading fillies to make the step up from the one mile trip of the 1000 Guineas to the one mile, four furlongs of the Oaks. It is very rare for a filly to win the Oaks having not at least attempted a race over at least a mile and two furlongs.

Punters are wising up to the increasing importance of proven stamina over and above out and out class but the Oaks is still proving to be a tough betting puzzle to unpick. Winning favourites are a rarity whilst a lack of previous Group 1 experience is no barrier to success in the Oaks. The form out of the 1000 Guineas is becoming less important and moreover there is no single race that is particularly illuminating for punters.

Aidan O’Brien hasn’t got to the very top as a trainer without the ability to spot trends before others. He was one of the first to understand the importance of stamina which is one of the main reasons his record in the Oaks is only improving. O’Brien trained four Oaks winners between 2012 to 2018 but he has a lot of work to do to close the gap with the winning most Oaks trainer, Robert Robson who had 13 winners between 1802 and 1825.

Other Key Races

Coronation Cup

Away from the two Classics, the Coronation Cup is probably the most prestigious race of the Derby Festival. Held on Ladies’ Day, the Coronation Cup is a Group 1 for older horses run over a distance of a mile and four furlongs. It’s a historic race which has been run since 1902 so there is a huge number of statistics and trends for punters to pour through.

One of the most important things to note is that the Coronation Cup tends to be contested by small fields. That has the result of providing many winning favourites although it does have a habit of throwing up some shock winners. Aidan O’Brien is the trainer to follow whilst many big name jockeys have enjoyed success including the legendary Lester Piggott who rode the Coronation Cup winner nine times.

Surrey Stakes

The Surrey Stakes is a seven furlong race which has formed part of the Derby Festival since 1995. As a Listed race it may be well below the level of either the Derby or the Oaks but the Surrey Stakes is still an important race for three-year-olds who excel over shorter trips.

Many of the previous winners have had a busy season already before arriving at Epsom but the unpredictable nature of three-year-olds, especially over these shorter distances, makes this a tough race to predict.

Diomed Stakes

The Diomed Stakes is a Group 3 which is named after the first winner of the Derby at Epsom. It’s run over a mile and 113 yards and is one of the first chances for three-year-olds to take on their elders. It’s an important part of the second day of the Derby Festival and trends to produce intriguing betting markets.

It is very rare for one of the younger cohort to win this race. That’s because the pick of the three-year-olds tend to compete in the Classics and those who are still improving find it tough to get the better of their more experienced rivals.

Princess Elizabeth Stakes

The Princess Elizabeth Stakes is the fillies and mares equivalent of the Diomed Stakes. It’s run over the exact same distance of a mile and 113 yards and is a Group 3 open to three-year-olds and older.

Three-year-old fillies have a better record in this than the younger colts do at the Diomed Stakes but it’s still the older mares who have the stronger record. The Princess Elizabeth Stakes has been won by big name jockeys in the last 15 years including multiple wins for Frankie Dettori, Silvestre de Sousa and James Doyle.

History

The five Classics of the British Flat racing season are some of the most historic contest in all of races. The St Leger is the oldest of the lot followed by the Oaks which was first run in 1779 and then the Derby which was inaugurated just one year later. Both the Oaks and the Derby remain two of the most important races in the sport but it’s the Derby which attracts the most attention and carries the biggest prize in British racing.

The Derby (often known as the Epsom Derby so as to differentiate it from races such as the Kentucky Derby) has a worldwide audience and punters’ preparations begin at least a year in advance as many previous winners have shown glimpses of what is to come when running as two-year-olds. The race was named after the 12th Earl of Derby who was hosting a party after the first Oaks at which the idea for the Derby was conceived. In all but four renewals, the Derby has been held over a mile and a half and it’s always been at Epsom Downs save for five years during World War II when it was temporarily moved to Newmarket.

Just like the Derby, the Oaks was the brainchild of guests at a party and has also gone on to inspire multiple races around the world. It’s also been held at Epsom apart from during the two World Wars. Some of the best fillies of all time have won the Oaks including Oh So Sharp and Ouija Board.

Both the Derby and the Oaks play the role of the second leg of the British Triple Crown for both colts and fillies. It is very rare for horses to even attempt the Triple Crown given how demanding it is and the increasingly specialist nature of the different Classics.