Epsom Derby Festival Day One Tips: Check out our best bets for Friday

Epsom Derby Festival Day One Tips: Find out all our best bets here.
Epsom Derby Festival Day One Tips: Find out all our best bets here.

Steve Chambers takes an in-depth look at day one of Epsom's Derby Festival, and picks out his best bets for Friday afternoon on Cazoo Oaks day...

14:00 Epsom Downs - Woodcote Stakes

A seven-race card begins at 14:00 with the Woodcote Stakes, as a batch of speedy two-year-olds line up and the market suggests it could be a battle between Michael Bell's DAIRERIN and the Tom Dascombe-trained Flaming Rib. The former kicked off his career with a narrow success on debut at Ripon, and built on that effort when just touched off at Newbury last time out. Flaming Rib could only finish third on his racecourse debut at Ripon, but improved significantly next time out when winning at Nottingham, and he looks to have more progression to come.

However, Dairerin's form looks notably stronger than that of his main market rival, as the third at Newbury has since come out and claimed victory, so that has certainly given Bell's charge a boost. George Boughey's juveniles have been in scintillating form this season and he will unleash Oscula, who was a winner last time out, and is entitled to play a notable role here, but providing Dairerin can continue to blossom on the track then he should prove to be too good for his rivals.

14:00 Epsom Downs - Woodcote Stakes
Dairerin silk



15:45 Epsom Downs - Cazoo Handicap

David Menuisier's Blue Cup was far too free at York last time out when finishing a disappointing seventh, and while he looks attractively handicapped he is a tad too short in a hugely competitive renewal of the Cazoo Handicap at 15:45. Dream With Me and HMS President are another prominent duo in the betting, but it's the Jedd O'Keeffe-trained STRAIT OF HORMUZ that looks an eye-catching contender.

A progressive handicapper last season that bagged wins at Haydock and Doncaster, the son of former Epsom Derby winner Sir Percy was last seen failing to see out the mile and a half trip at York, so will enjoy the drop back to ten furlongs on Friday. He is sure to improve significantly for that seasonal reappearance, and providing Hollie Doyle can maintain a prominent position through the early stages then he could well outbattle his rivals in the closing stages. Around an 8/1 mark, at the time of writing, Strait Of Hormuz looks an extremely solid each-way bet, but he can do better than that and claim the win here.

15:45 Epsom Downs - Cazoo Handicap
Strait Of Hormuz silk

Strait Of Hormuz


16:30 Epsom Downs - Cazoo Oaks

The showpiece event of the day is the Cazoo Oaks, which takes place at 16:30 and it's the Aidan O'Brien-trained SANTA BARBARA that can dominate this contest, and duly land the prize for favourite backers. Looking to notch a ninth win in the fillies' Classic, O'Brien has a strong hand with Snowfall adding notable depth to the Ballydoyle charge, but it's Santa Barbara that can prove to be a cut above her rivals.

An impressive maiden success as a two-year-old catapulted her into the Classic picture, and the murmurings come from the Ballydoyle yard are that she could be one of the new stars off the production line. Sent into the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in her first start this season, she put up a creditable effort when finishing fourth in that Classic over a mile, but it's the step up in trip that should bring about the necessary improvement. The daughter of Camelot is one that will relish that extra half mile, and if Ryan Moore can keep her handy turning for home then she can duly kick clear to claim glory.

16:30 Epsom Downs - Cazoo Oaks
Santa Barbara silk

Santa Barbara


17:10 Epsom Downs - Play Coral 'Racing-Super-Series' For Free Surrey Stakes

A field of seven line up for the Surrey Stakes, which is the penultimate race on day one of the Derby Festival, and it's the smart Mehmento that looks the one to beat in this Listed event at 17:10. A fine second in the Greenham Stakes earlier in the season was followed by a disappointing run in the French 2000 Guineas, but this looks much more his level, and he sets the standard.

But, one horse that could challenge the hotpot is the Ralph Beckett-trained MEU AMOR, who is one of two fillies lining up here, and heads to Epsom in fine fettle. Last seen finishing fourth in the Group 3 Chartwell Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield Park, Meu Amor will relish a return to quicker ground for this event, and having finished runner-up at Listed level during her two-year-old campaign suggests she could strike at that level this season. She will gain weight from her male adversaries here, and the daughter of Siyouni looks to be the value play in a fascinating renewal.

17:10 Epsom Downs - Surrey Stakes
Meu Amor silk

Meu Amor

2021 Epsom Derby Tips
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