Derby meeting kicks off at Epsom

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  • Stall handlers are planning to strike at Epsom today as the Derby meeting begins, although the only race they plan to target at the two-day meeting is the group 2 Vodafone Temple Stakes today.

    Director of Public Relations at the Jockey Club, John Maxse explained that they “will be briefing the jockeys beforehand and the starter will also tell them what he expects when they arrive down at the gate.

    “We hope that commonsense will prevail when the 12 jockeys are asked to come forward for a flip-start for the Group 2 Vodafone Temple Stakes,” he added.

    Jockeys will be jostling not to give an inch at the start of the five-furlong race, which is on Britain’s fastest five-furlong course.

    The Oaks

    Godolphin have high hopes of a successful two days racing at Epsom. They have the two most favoured fillies in the line-up of the Vodafone Oaks this afternoon, headed by Punctilious, who is Frankie Dettori’s chosen ride, with Sundrop as her close rival. But the betting doesn’t correspond entirely to the form, since Sundrop has beaten her stablemate in two previous trials (the Fillies’ Mile last September, and Godolphin’s private trial in April)

    So perhaps Dettori knows something the punters don’t. But the Godolphin duo faces competition from other quarters. Ouija Board poses a serious threat. The filly races under the colours of Lord Derby, and victory to her would be a fitting finish since the Oaks was named after the house which the 12th Earl of Derby occupied when he won the race at its first running. She has the form to do it too.

    Aidan O’Brien will be keen to make up for the frustration of Yeats missing tomorrow’s Derby. He mounts a three-strong challenge, with All too Beautiful, Necklace and Kisses For Me. The first boasts an impressive pedigree, and has won both of her two previous starts. The last of the three is somewhat an outsider, although she is bred for her stamina and could yet prove herself.

    The Derby

    Tomorrow’s premier classic is as open a field as it has been in a long time since the defection of favourite Yeats. Once again Frankie Dettori’s ride starts favourite. Snow Ridge finished second to Haafhd in the 2000 Guineas in May, although he was disappointing at the end of last season. The jockey considers the Godolphin colt to be his first serious Derby prospect. Kieren Fallon will be making it a battle of the jockeys on North Light, a Danehill colt with impressive form.

    American Post has eased in the betting since a win in somewhat bizarre circumstances at Longchamps last month, but with three group 1 victories under his belt, this Head-Maarek-trained colt is a serious prospect. Salford City was disappointing in the upset of the 2000 Guineas, but trainer Dominic Elsworth considers him one of the better horses he has trained, and reckons that he could improve over the longer distance.

    The Oaks:

    1. Sundrop
    2. Punctilious
    3. Ouija Board

    The Derby

    1. North Light
    2. Salford City
    3. American Post

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