This Friday and Saturday will see the annual renewal of the greatest flat races of the season – the Epsom Oaks and Derby. Due to a strike by stalls handlers, the races are likely to be started by tape for the first time in 38 years – a situation that may lead to a degree of confusion at the start.
Sundrop is 9-4 favourite for the three-year old fillies event on Friday but my idea of the winner, based on solid form lines, is Ouija Board who has shown that she possesses both stamina and an exciting turn of foot. Let The Lion Roar at 16-1 would be a suitable pre-Euro 2004 winner but a blinkered horse has not won the Derby since 1913! Despite reports of lameness last week, the favourite Yeats takes his place in the starting line-up and will be hard to beat if acting on Epsom’s uniquely undulating course. John Gosden’s impressive Lingfield winner Percussionist has already shown that he can handle this type of track and represents great value for a place at 12-1, especially since fancied American Post from the Criquette Head yard looks unlikely to take his chance.
The one I fancy to win this year’s big prize, however, is North Light representing 2003 winners Sir Michael Stout and champion jockey Kieran Fallon. Fallon has been reeling off winners for the stable in recent days, always a good sign in itself, and has bags full of experience in the race, a fact that is worth several lengths should the horse himself prove not quite good enough on the day.