In the first of his exclusive columns, the leading Flat racing trainer looks ahead to the Epsom Oaks and previews his runners for Friday.
I’m delighted to be working with Betway and am looking forward to updating you on our horses throughout the season.
We’ve got a really strong bunch this year and let’s hope there are plenty of big days to look forward to.
The Derby meeting
The Derby meeting is absolutely huge for everyone involved.
Epsom is totally unique as a racecourse and it’s very demanding on young horses. It requires a large skillset to be effective on the track. That’s why it is such a great test for the Classic generation.
You need to have speed, courage and balance, particularly coming around Tattenham Corner. Stamina is a must to see out the mile and a half, but the greatest demand is class.
You’re taking on the best at Epsom and it’s always the same questions that are asked of every generation.
Do they stay? Will they handle the track? Are they good enough? This is where we find out.
The Derby is obviously the big one and I’ll be updating you on Bangkok in tomorrow’s blog, but first up is the Oaks which I won in my first season training back in 2003 with Casual Look.
I remember going into the race thinking we had an each-way chance and may run into a place, but it was beyond my expectations that she would win.
It was a great start to my career and we had a treble on the day with the first two home in the handicap.
It really was a red letter day and I remember Mick Channon saying to me, “You think this is easy? It’s all downhill from here!”
He was absolutely right, we haven’t managed to win another Classic since then. It shows how difficult it is to win them, particularly with Aidan O’Brien being as strong as he is.
We don’t have a runner in this year’s Oaks and it looks quite an open race. The one I like is John Gosden’s Anapurna , who is bred by Meon Valley Stud.
Every year they breed top class horses and she was very impressive at Lingfield in the Oaks Trial.
Lingfield is still as good a pre-Epsom test as you can get in terms of what is required on the big day and Frankie Dettori is riding her, which is obviously no hardship.
Friday’s Epsom runners
We have three runners on Friday and first up is Morando in the Coronation Cup (15:10). He’s a real mudlark and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be soft enough to inconvenience the others.
He deserves to mix it at this level, though, and there’s some excellent prize money, so let’s hope he can pick some of it up.
Lorelina goes for the 1m 2f handicap at 15:45, which we won a few years ago with Elbereth. She has won at Epsom before and she’s a pretty handy horse which will help.
She’s another who could have done with some more rain, as it’s really a case of the softer the better with her.
I hope Happy Power will have every chance in the Surrey Stakes (17:15). He’ll step up to a mile at some point, but a strongly run seven furlongs will be fine.
He wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much, but Epsom always do a good job in preparing nice, safe ground. I’d say he would be my best chance of the day, although it does look quite a hot race.
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