What a weekend in store at Epsom with the Derby, of course, taking centre stage on Saturday. Friday’s card isn’t too shabby either, with the fillies Classic, the Oaks, the feature.

Here are Nick Luck’s thoughts on the action.


SIENNA BONNIE is a chunky price at 14/1 to land the Woodcote Stakes that opens up Friday’s Oaks card at Epsom (2.00pm), and can get the day off to a good start. Although she evidently beat little at Bath on her penultimate start, she walloped her field by over eight lengths and – gearing down – managed to clock a very smart time. I fancied her to run well in the Marygate at York, but she was likely undone by a combination of a slightly dead surface and racing on the wrong part of the track. These conditions should suit much better and she faces lesser rivals here. She could prove tough from the front.

STORTING could be the answer to the extended mile handicap (2.35pm) at 9/2. There’s little doubt that – although he was a big price – he beat a couple of really well-handicapped and unexposed horses in the Thirsk Hunt Cup and the handicapper has given him every chance to follow up. Although at first glance his profile looks a bit patchy, this trip on fast ground seems to bring out his optimum and there’s no sense that his win last time – in a fast time – was any kind of fluke. With Irish Admiral such a short price, he looks a fair bet.

ALBAFLORA might be good enough to prick a few big balloons in the Coronation Cup (3.10pm) at 11/1. While I’m a fully paid up member of the Al Aasy fan club, I can’t recommend backing him at odds-on against a new group of rivals, while brothers Japan and Mogul are seriously high class but tricky to predict. I’m taking a chance that Albaflora – as was suggested by Rossa Ryan at Ascot – is a genuine Group One filly. I was hugely impressed by the way she finished off that day, thumping useful rivals by further than Al Aasy had beaten the same horses at Newbury. With Frankie Dettori taking over and Ralph Beckett remaining in good form, she is worth a dart at big odds, notwithstanding a slight concern about the ground.

DATA PROTECTION can run another huge race at his beloved Epsom in the ten-furlong handicap (3.45pm) at 10/1. He finished an excellent fourth in this last year, but has since had a breathing operation and appears to have improved for it, traveling more sweetly through his races. He looked as good as ever when a fine third at Chester on his reappearance, and should be well suited by a return to a sounder surface. David Egan takes over in the saddle which is hardly a negative.

SNOWFALL (9/2) is fancied to win the Cazoo Oaks (4.30pm) for Aidan O’Brien and Frankie Dettori. There seems a reluctance to take her Musidora win at face value given she received a canny ride. That said, she was firmly in command at the finish, staying on really strongly in the manner of a filly who would relish the full Oaks trip. This effort and her dominant paddock appearance are much more in keeping with her outstanding pedigree than her rather indifferent collection of runs as a two-year-old, and I’m prepared to believe she has improved significantly. Faster ground should suit, Dettori will have her handily placed, and she appeals as a bet more than her stablemate Santa Barbara, who is clearly a significant talent but is not guaranteed to love the extra distance.

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