As June blazes in, summer classic season hits top gear with this weekend’s Betfred Derby Festival at Epsom.
In a month which concludes with Royal Ascot, first, the 1m4f trip on the Downs takes top billing.
With 15 races sandwiched into the card, we’ve picked three to feature at varying prices.
Friday 16:30 Betfred Oaks, Soul Sister – 11/4
Beginning with Friday’s Oaks, Running Lion‘s form is impressive but without a drop of rain, Soul Sister is the filly for us.
As Frankie Dettori galloped away to win the Musidora at York last month, the 14/1 SP of John and Thady Gosden’s promising lady was left in tatters.
Romping away on turf that had at last firmed up, too much was placed on her form from Newbury.
Instead, a debut winner at Doncaster last October, the youngster proved she can handle the soft ground, but will much prefer the going good.
Everything points to said Epsom going being Good to Firm this weekend and Soul Sister has the groove at 11/4 with William Hill.
Saturday 13:30: Betfred Epsom Derby, White Birch – 14/1
Turning to the Festival’s main event, whilst Auguste Rodin, Military Order and Passenger are jousting to be Derby favourite, White Birch is very much still our long-price fancy.
And we have sound company in our pick.
Indeed, ITV Racing duo Francesca Cumani and Leonna Mayor have been vocal in their support in JJ Murphy‘s pretender to the Derby crown.
In his last outing, the colt was a storming runner-up to The Foxes in The Dante and with a few extra furlongs could have taken the win.
???? THE FOXES WINS THE DANTE! ????
It was very messy but it’s The Foxes that holds on to take the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes ????
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) May 18, 2023
A double winner on Irish turf his two races prior, he will be keen again to put a show on British soil.
The son of Ulysses – a Juddmonte winner himself in 2016 – White Birch has the pedigree to perform on the big stage.
At a still very tasty 14/1 with BoyleSports, the grey looks excellent value.
Saturday 14:10: Princess Elizabeth Stakes, Astral Beau – 8/1
Finally, we move to the following race on the card, the Princess Elizabeth Stakes with a good e/w consideration for Astral Beau.
Now targeting races just over the 1m mark, the 4yo travelled well to place third in the Howden last time out.
Of more significance perhaps, the mount of Shane Foley was a winner over the slightly shorter distance in the Doncaster Mile earlier this spring.
Still preferring 7f, Astral Beau has nevertheless won four of her last six – placing in all outings.
We just get the feeling trainer Pam Sly could be on to a good thing here.
The four-length winning margin in Yorkshire proved there could be a stayer in this horse yet, at 8/1 with 888Sport.