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It will be a poignant few days at Epsom as the 2022 middle-distance Classics are shadowed by the recent death of Lester Piggott. Like many previous years, Aidan O’Brien dominates the Irish entries with the hope of securing more success in the Coronation Cup, Oaks, and Derby this Friday and Saturday on the Epsom Downs.
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HIGH DEFINITION is the first Ballydoyle runner at Epsom on Friday and looks an intriguing contender having failed to win since his last juvenile success in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in 2020. He had his issues last season and unfortunately missed the Epsom showpiece despite finishing third in the Dante at York. Disappointing runs followed in the Irish Derby, Great Voltigeur and St Leger throughout the rest of last season, before returning at the Curragh in April of this year.
The son of Galileo went off favourite for both the Alleged Stakes and Moorsebridge Stakes’ before putting up his best display for some time at the Curragh last month. It was a bold front running performance under Ryan Moore in the Tattersalls Gold Cup were horse and jockey were unlucky to suffer defeat to Alenquer. He’s only rated 1Ib inferior to last years winner Pyledriver with some cut in the ground and the extra trip looking positives as O’Brien bids for a ninth win in the race.
Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have dominated the Oaks in recent seasons with the last winner trained away from either Ballydoyle or Clarehaven coming in 2013 thanks to the Ralph Beckett trained Talent. Ryan Moore rides TUESDAY bringing classic form to the field following her placed efforts in both the English and Irish Guineass last month. Despite her full sister, Minding securing success in this race in 2016, there remains some concerns over the longer trip in the pedigree.
Lillie Langtry hasn’t produced any other winners (besides Minding) over this far from repeat matings with Galileo. CONCERT HALL was flying at the finish at the Curragh and should appreciate the step-up in trip more than her stablemate with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle. She’s already seen out ten-furlongs following success in the Salsabil Stakes and is sired by Dubawi, out of 2012 Oaks winner, Was which suggests this trip and race are ideal.
THOUGHTS OF JUNE was given a beautiful winning ride by Ryan Moore at Chester and would be a very interesting contender if the heavens opened on Friday afternoon. She received a form boost last weekend with success for Above The Curve in France and Wayne Lordan should get a good spin from this filly. THE ALGARVE is the final Ballydoyle runner and has plenty to find under Colin Keane with TRANQUIL LADY a lively contender for Joseph O’Brien following her Blue Wind victory at Naas.
Aidan O’Brien is looking for his ninth Epsom Derby with STONE AGE his leading contender under Ryan Moore this Saturday afternoon. The son of Galileo was bred by White Birch Farm and remains in joint ownership with breeder Peter Brant and the wider Coolmore team. He has clearly shown more maturity this season and was unlucky not to have broken his maiden last year. He ran in some top juvenile races and looks a major player here following his victory in the Derby Trial last month.
Ronan Whelan once again rides GLORY DAZE with Andy Oliver’s runner hoping to reverse the form from Foxrock. CHANINGOFTHEGUARD is another Ballydoyle runner to have progressed this season and looks another excellent ride for Wayne Lordan over the two days at Epsom. He looks the pace angle given his style of racing and winning at both Dundalk and in the Chester Vase, and if the rain fell heavily, he’s a serious challenger.
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Frankie Dettori is looking for his third Derby victory and is a fascinating jockey booking for PIZ BADILE – the Frankie factor could see him well backed and it would be no surprise to see him go off at single figure odds. This horse has gone under the radar slightly following his Ballysax win, and it would be no surprise to see him challenge at the business end for Donnacha O’Brien and the Niarchos family.
STAR OF INDIA looked like he needed every yard, if not further when scoring in the Dee Stakes at Chester last month. He’s another son of 2001 winner Galileo taking his chance on Saturday afternoon and should improve further for the step-up in trip. He brings classic form to the table having finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and looks another with an each-way chance in an open looking Derby under Seamie Heffernan.
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