The next few weeks are largely about the racing on the other side of the water as the Oaks, the Derby and Royal Ascot take centre stage.

In the Oaks today (16:30, Epsom), it wouldn’t surprise me if TRANQUIL LADY  ran into a place. It’s a wide-open running of the fillies’ classic, and she improved from her comeback run to win well last time. Tom Marquand is a top booking, too.

In the Derby tomorrow (16:30. Epsom), I have to say that first and foremost, I wasn’t as impressed with Desert Crown as some people seem to be. I wasn’t blown away, so I’d look to take him on.

I don’t think there’s a great deal between any of the Irish horses; Stone Age, Star Of India, Piz Badile are all good horses and it wouldn’t surprise me if anyone of them won or at least went well, but there isn’t a standout from that bunch.

I do really like NATIONS PRIDE  though, who looks to be crying out for this step up in trip. The yard know what it takes to win the race now and the fact they’ve supplemented him is a real vote of confidence.

I liked the way he went into and came out of the dip at Newmarket last time; he’s a really well-balanced colt which is vital at Epsom. He’s drawn well in stall 5, and I don’t think he’ll be too far away at all.

Royal Ascot two-year-olds

With Royal Ascot on the horizon, there are some very exciting two-year-olds who are going to be on the ferry over afte their recent performances and I want to make a note of them in my Betway column.

Statuatte won at Navan last weekend, and she is the best two year old I’ve seen this year this season. She looked more like a three-year-old colt, not a two-year-old filly, so she’ll have a real advantage over some of her rivals last this month.

After the race, I heard a leading trainer say that he was so impressed with her that he thinks she would win any of the two year races at Royal Ascot, let alone the Albany, which looks to be her target.

Another to mention is Lady Tilbury. She won a maiden at Cork on her penultimate start and then stepped up to win a conditions race at Tipperary this week.

Gary Carroll rode her for the first time and he got off and likened her to Quick Suzy who won the Queen Mary last year. She strikes me a similar type and if she was trained by someone by popular than David Marnane, she’d be five times shorter in the betting.

Lester Piggott

It was sad to hear of the passing of Lester Piggott this week. I had two racing heroes growing up; Sir Peter O’Sullivan and Lester Piggott.

During my childhood in the 80s, I admired what he did on a horse and the way he rode and one of my favourite early memories is being at Phoenix Park for what is now the Irish Champion Stakes (then called the Phoenix Champion Stakes).

The great Sadler’s Wells actually won the race with Lestor finishing way behind on Adonijah. It didn’t matter to me that Lester didn’t win. I was just so happy to see him up close in the flesh.

I followed his career with huge interest from that day in 1984. His comeback on Royal Academy is the stuff of legend as we all know. The man was a real one-off and his passing a sad loss to racing and to the world.

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