The 6f Woodcote Stakes is a scary race for some of these babies. When you stand down at the start and look out from those stalls the horses look like they are heading into the crowd. Mark Johnston has won this race three times in the last eight years and his Misty Grey has had the benefit of two runs. He really came forward from his first to second run and if he gets out in front, will take some pegging back.
Greenside comes into this contest in brilliant form and he won cosily at Windsor last time. I don’t think the 4lbs rise by the handicapper is enough to stop him – but the track might. He has never run at Epsom, so you can only hope he will cope with its sharp bends and undulations. Maybe it’s a case of what you don’t know, won’t hurt you! Of the others, Gary Moore’s Gossiping comes here in the form of his life and looks a lively contender with just 8st 7lbs on his back.
The 1m 4f Coronation Cup last year saw Salouen almost pull off one of the shocks of last season, being nabbed late on by Cracksman. Sylvester Kirk’s charge looked in rare form when justifying favouritism at Ascot and I think he has to be the each-way bet in this. When you have a horse that loves it around Epsom and the others have to prove they are as effective at this track, then you’ve got an advantage.
Kew Gardens seemed to take a few runs to hit top gear last year and this is only his second start after finishing runner-up at CHester while Lah Ti Dar looked a little rusty when winning over a trip just short of her best at York. I cant get away from Salouen though as the value.
I have tried to find an alternative to likely favourite Elector, but I’m struggling. Sir Michael Stoute has a knack of getting these horses to improve with age and Elector looked like he was going to come on again from his win at Newmarket over Jazeel. I was working at Ascot when Setting Sail was a beaten favourite when finishing fourth to Sextant. He is the most lovely horse, big and strong and the fact he is dropping back in trip is a plus as he definitely looked happy with two furlongs left to run at Ascot. He rates the danger to Elector.
Mehdaayih has been supplemented for the Epsom Oaks and trainer John Gosden doesn’t do this unless he feels it is worthwhile. The other thing that a lot has been made of is the jockey bookings. Rab Havlin keeps the ride, even with the great Frankie Dettori available. Rab may lack a previous Classic win but has a deep understanding of this filly. Sometimes you need that. There is no-one better than Frankie on the big day, but the fact Rab keeps the ride is a huge boost for him.
Frankie will be the first to congratulate him if Mehdaayih wins and I think she will as she was super impressive at Chester.
Of the others, William Haggas’s Maqsaad is interesting but did finish over four lengths behind Mehdaayih when a beaten odds-on favourite at Yarmouth last year over a mile. As you would imagine, Aidan O’Brien is strongly represented and saddles the likely favourite Pink Dogwood but his Peach Tree looks too big a price and will be ridden by his son, Donnacha. We’ve seen him pull off a few surprises in the Classics before and this filly looked like she would improve loads for her comeback run at Naas.