Monday, 29 July 2019

Happy and Glorious

You can keep Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and York's Ebor meeting. Glorious Goodwood (to give 'Glorious The Qatar Goodwood Festival its proper name) is my favourite race-week of the year.

With three Group 1s, five Group 2s, and five Group 3s over the five days the racing hardly counts as 'shoddy'. Overall prize money for the week's not to be sniffed at either, when you remember the figure's in the region of six million quid.

There's just something about this bonkers racecourse clamped into the Downs which makes the next few days very special. All topped off with free strawberries and cream each day on the lawn at 4pm sharp.

The nature of the track means there are inevitably going to be hard luck stories at Goodwood. But with a decent jockey on your side, not to mention the meeting's target trainers, and there are opportunities galore for racegoers to experience plenty of punting ups amid those beautiful Sussex Downs.

Be lucky!

PHILIPPOS

Goodwood Tuesday 30 July 2019

NAP: HEY GAMAN win
NB: JOHNNY DRAMA e/w

1.50 Unibet Handicap 1m 1f 197yds
A tricky opener set to be run on good-ish ground providing the track doesn't experience too many rain showers that are forecast for Tuesday morning. Setting Sail is the likely favourite and one for Placepot permutations, but let's take a chance on JOHNNY DRAMA causing a minor upset. He found 12f a race distance too far last time and this contest will be more up his street. Another for the shortlist is Ventura Knight, the mount of Ryan Moore.

2.25 Qatar Vintage Stakes (Group 2) 7f
It's difficult to omit Pinatubo from calculations having looked impressive already notching up a hat-trick of wins, one of them coming at Royal Ascot in June. Maybe the horse to give him the most to do today is the Aidan O'Brien-trained LOPE Y FERNANDEZ. This horse was behind Pinatubo in the Chesham Stakes, but could easily find the necessary improvement in a race in which O'Brien has tasted success in the past.

3.00 Qatar Lennox Stakes (Group 2) 7f
Probably not the deepest Group 2 race ever contested, but HEY GAMAN doesn't know that and he looks more than capable of landing this generous pot. Already placed in a Classic (last year's French 2,000 Guineas) and already a winner at Group 3 level, this looks like an ideal contest for James Tate's likeable inmate. In a race where the odd shock result's not uncommon, Donjuan Triumphant is also a speculative each-way play.

3.35 Qatar Goodwood Cup (Group 1) 2m
You can't keep a good man down and jockey Frankie Dettori is flying high at the moment following his superb King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes victory on board Enable at Ascot last weekend. In all likelihood the Dettori and trainer John Gosden combination will likely enjoy more Group 1 success in this race with Stradivarius looking to make it a hat-trick of Goodwood Cups. The race is not a gimme, however, and perhaps the Mark Johnston-trained DEE EX BEE can give jolly-backers a fright at slightly more expansive odds.

4.10 European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Stakes 6f
Not much form to go on with these juveniles, but WRITTEN BROADCAST should be starting to get the hang of things on his third racecourse appearance. Phuket Power has speed all over his pedigree and may reward each-way backers by out-running his likely long odds.

4.45 Chelsea Barracks Handicap 5f
A real blink-and-you'll-miss-it race over the minimum distance. MUTHMIR's not getting any younger at 9yo but he's at the top of this handicap for a reason and may yet be able to show his more youthful rivals a clean pair of hooves. Koditime is another for the shortlist.

5.15 Unibet Fillies' Handicap 1m
A tricky contest restricted to fillies and mares to round off the first day. The Roger Charlton-trained SAVANNAH hasn't had much racing this term, so maybe today's the day her season kicks off in style.  Al Messila is looking to chalk up the hat-trick and can't be discounted.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Friday on my mind

Royal Ascot came to life and how on Ladies' Day yesterday.

That man Frankie Dettori brought the place to life by riding the winners of the first four races (at combined odds of 449-1) and almost making it five on the spin when chinned late on in the Britannia Stakes.

Readers of this blog yesterday will hopefully have availed themselves of three of those wins in the shape of Sangarius, Star Catcher and Stradivarius.

Today's another story, however, and it might be a case of the 'Moore the merrier' by the time the last race has been run. Jockey Ryan Moore is now three wins behind Frankie in the race to be the meeting's top jockey.

Day four Friday could see him reduce that gap, however, bringing things nicely to a head for tomorrow.

Be lucky!

PHILIPPOS

Royal Ascot

Stalls: straight course, centre; Round course, inside

NAP: HERMOSA
NB: JASH

2:30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) Fillies Six furlongs
A field of 25 are set to go to post for this sprint confined to juvenile fillies only. A couple of US raiders in the shape of Chili Petin and Nayibeth add an extra edge to this contest. But I'm looking no further than Ireland, or possibly North Yorkshire, in terms of my idea of the winner. The maestro trainer Aidan O'Brien runs a brace in the shape of SO WONDERFUL (14/1) and Precious Moments (16/1) and it's difficult to rule out either. Both make each-way appeal at their prices. Another in the same camp is Exceptional (16/1). Trainer Richard Fahey is a dab hand with juveniles and this could be an excellent chance to get on this week's scoresheet.

3:05 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) Colts & geldings One mile, four furlongs
Also known as the 'Ascot Derby' and three of today's rather miserly eight-strong field contested the Epsom version three weeks ago. If Japan (5/4) has recovered well from his exertions on the Downs when he came third that day to Anthony Van Dyck, he's the likeliest winner. Maybe PABLO ESCOBARR (8/1) at a working man's each-way price for a 'dead-eight' race can give him most to think about. He swerved running in the Derby and trainer William Haggas is already having a fine Royal week.

3:40 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) Six furlongs
Again, a rather small field of just nine 3yo are set to go to post for this half-million pound sprint. As with the previous race, it's uninspiring but probably dangerous to overlook the chances of the favourite Ten Sovereigns (11/8). If lumping on short-priced favourites isn't your thing, turn to JASH (5/1) for hopefully an each-way bet to nothing. Trainer Simon Crisford won the opener yesterday and it would be disappointing if this colt couldn't at least make the frame.

4:20 Coronation Stakes (Group 1) Fillies One mile Round course
This could be a penalty kick for HERMOSA (evens). If she turns up in the same form which has already seen her land both the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and Irish Guineas at The Curragh this season, then she wins comfortably. In which case what comes second? Jubiloso (9/2) is short enough in the betting but, although unbeaten, is priced as much on her connections as any rock-solid credentials. She has to enter calculations, although at least we know French 1,000 Guineas winner Castle Lady (8/1) won't be inconvenienced by the soft-ish underfoot conditions.

5:00 Sandringham Stakes (Handicap) Fillies One mile straight
Back to the cavalry charges and a mere 27-runner affair with the field hurtling down the course's straight mile. A royal runner in the form of Magnetic Charm (10/1) adds to the interest, but my three darts are being aimed at far bigger-priced runners. The first two are WHIMBREL (20/1) and Kimblewick (33/1) which both hail from the powerful John Gosden yard. Both are making their debut in handicap company and each has been running over a slightly longer trip than today's race distance. They may be rattling home while rivals tire. The other selection is Aim Power (50/1) at colossal odds. It's unusual that neither trainer Richard Hannon, nor champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa have yet registered a winner thus far this week. What better time to do it?

5:35 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap) One mile, four furlongs
A tricky-looking 19-runner contest to round off day four. Towards the top of the market, FUJAIRA PRINCE (13/2) makes plenty of appeal. Pivoine (20/1) may out-run his odds but, for me, the most eye-catching runner in the race is Lethal Steps (33/1). Brought over by Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer Gordon Elliot, the gelding last ran in May in a two-and-a-half mile handicap hurdle. Hardly a traditional prep race for a contest of this nature which makes him the most intriguing runner of the meeting!







Thursday, 20 June 2019

All set for a virtuoso performance

Yesterday morning I wrote that it would be a surprise if jockey Frankie Dettori left Royal Ascot winner-less by Wednesday evening.

Sure enough, he knocked in a day two double paying combined tasty odds of 75-1! Talk about not being able to keep a good man down.

Don't forget. A five-day horse racing festival is a marathon, not a sprint.

Even if day two at Royal Ascot was as much of a wash-out on the results front for you as it was with the weather, then fear not. We're not yet half-way through the meeting. Happily, the weather prospects are better for the remainder of the week.

But given the amount of rain that's already fallen on the course, it's essential to look out for horses which put their best hoof forward when there's give underfoot for the rest of the meeting. Even if we enjoy a couple of drying days, this will only likely take the going to 'good' by Saturday afternoon.

Today's race highlight is the meeting's centre-piece contest, namely, the Ascot Gold Cup. Once again that man Dettori will be in the spotlight, as he looks to ride back-to-back wins in this race on the big-race favourite, Stradivarius.

There's also the classy Ribblesdale Stakes for middle-distance 3yo fillies to crack, plus a couple of fiendishly tricky handicaps also restricted to runners from the Classic generation.

Be lucky!

PHILIPPOS

Royal Ascot

Stalls: straight course, centre. Round course, inside

NAP: STRADIVARIUS
NB: SIR RON PRIESTLEY


2:30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) Five furlongs
There's a hot favourite in this race in the shape of Sunday Sovereign. At cramped odds of 5/2, he may be one for your Placepot selections, but let's try and find a bigger-priced winner. Maybe Joseph O'Brien holds the key. He has made a stellar start to his training career but has yet to register a win at Royal Ascot. AIR FORCE JET (8/1) could be the horse to change all that and makes appeal at a working man's price. In a race where there may be question marks over one or two of the shorter-priced runners, another to consider is Expressionist (8/1) running in the royal blue of Godolphin. At even bigger odds, it's interesting to note that Real Appeal (16/1) changed hands for the thick end of three hundred thousand pounds just a few days ago.

3:05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group3) One mile, two furlongs
The first of no less than four races on the card all confined to three-year-olds. Perhaps Royal Ascot's race planners could have a word with themselves. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE (6/1) won a Derby trial earlier in the season and ran ok to be fourth in the Prix Du Jockey Club in France last time.  He will have the assistance of the week's leading jockey Ryan Moore and today could be his day in the sun. Two others to bring into calculations are Sangarius (8/1) and Cap Francais (16/1). Both will appreciate a bit of dig in the ground and that's going to be essential today.

3:40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) Fillies One mile, four furlongs
This race revolves around whether or not you are in the camp of the favourite, Fleeting. Although she's been supplemented for today's race having finished third in the Epsom Oaks, I'm inclined to be against her, especially at cramped odds. To take her on, there's no better trainer to have in your corner than John Gosden. His pair of STAR CATCHER (7/1) and Fanny Logan (16/1) should give the jolly a fight. At humungous odds, it may be that Peach Tree (33/1) is simply there to make the pace for her stablemate Fleeting. But if, as is possible, the race turns attritional, the former may still be there at the finish. That would be a peach of a result.

4:30 Gold Cup (Group 1) Two miles, four furlongs
The Royal meeting's centre-piece race, run over a stamina-sapping distance which will be accentuated further by today's soft going. While I was happy to oppose the favourite in the Ribblesdale, it's difficult to get away from the chances of market-leader STRADIVARIUS (6/5) in this contest. He's going for back-to-back victories in the race, has the assistance of Frankie Dettori in the plate and there only appears to be a couple of rivals who are likely to give him a fright. The first is Dee Ex Bee (6/1). You rule out Mark Johnson-stayers at your peril and this colt had enough class last season to come second in the Epsom Derby. I'm less convinced about the merits of the globe-trotting Cross Counter (9/2) for Godolphin. But these three should be clear of the pack by the two furlong pole, so maybe a combination tricast on the trio is the way to go here.

5:00 Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) One mile straight
I love the Britannia. It's basically a race for those 3yo milers who haven't quite developed into top class colts in the first part of the season, but who are still classy animals in their own right. A 30-runner field doesn't make finding the winner any easier, but let's have a go anyway. Trainer William Haggas has already notched a couple of winners this week and he runs a pair of contenders in this. The one I like is AWE (14/1). Trainer John Gosden has won this race four times in the past and he saddles two contenders with live chances. Of the pair, I prefer Turgenev (16/1) who possibly ran over a trip too far last time. Davydenko (16/1) has a fighting chance of making the frame as well.

5:35 King George V Stakes (Handicap) One mile, four furlongs
Another cracking handicap to finish with just the 19 runners set to go to post. The standout for me is SIR RON PRIESTLEY (6/1) from the Mark Johnson stable, although it's true he's untested on ground as deep as this. Another contender to take note of from the top of the market is Sinjaari (13/2). It's a bit of a leap of faith, but at a colossal each-way price Kaloor (50/1) may out-run his odds. Look for bookmakers paying five places!


















Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Seconds out for a potential day of surprises

The big questions for day two of Royal Ascot are: how much has it rained in Berkshire overnight and when will Frankie Dettori, the meeting's most successful jockey currently riding, get off the mark with a winner?

To answer the first question, even if the course managed to miss any deluges Tuesday night into this morning there's not much point following horses who prefer underfoot conditions to be rattlingly fast.

Times held up pretty well yesterday despite the inclement conditions. But today's ground will likely be on the yielding side of good and that has implications for the US speedball sprinters looking to scorch down the Ascot turf in the opening race, the Queen Mary Stakes.

The going also has implications for today's longest race, the Queen's Vase. Ironically, this race's distance was reduced a few years ago from two miles to a mile and six furlongs. Today's conditions will make the run-in seem like a very long way.

As for jockeys, well, we saw yesterday when Ryan Moore (currently Royal Ascot's second winning-most rider) bagged a brace of wins, that it's difficult to keep big-name pilots out of the frame at high-profile meetings like this.

As far as Dettori's concerned, he's got a quality book of Wednesday rides and it would be surprising if he left the course tonight still winnerless. That said, it's an ultra-competitive card and big-priced winners would not be a total surprise today.

Be lucky!

PHILIPPOS

Royal Ascot (Stalls: straight course centre; round course, inside)

NAP: WALDGEIST
NB: SENIORITY

2:30 Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) Five furlongs
27 fillies go to post which means it's entirely possible the field will split into two, or even three, groups. Kimari (6/1) is a fascinating raider from the US whose trainer has an excellent Royal Ascot record. She's difficult to leave out of calculations, but the big field and underfoot conditions may not be to her liking. That might offer one of the Godolphin pair of Divine Spirit (11/1) and THEORY OF TIME (14/1) a chance to land the spoils at an attractive price. At humungous odds, have to mention the French-trained Brand New Day (50/1) who appears over-priced and may be worth an each-way investment on a day which could see a string of shock results. Look for bookmakers paying five places.

3:05 Queen's Vase (Group 2) One mile, six furlongs
Traditionally a race competed for by the Classic three-year-old generation regarded as a little bit slow for the highest-profile 12 furlong contests, but who may yet develop into contenders for the St Leger run later in the season in September. All eyes will be on Norway (4/1) who many think will bounce back from his 8th in the recent Epsom Derby and win this comfortably. As an Aidan O'Brien inmate, you can't ignore his claims, although personal preference is for his slightly longer-priced stable-mate, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (9/2).  

3:40 Prince of Wales's Stakes (Group 1) One mile, two furlongs
Only eight runners declared and, depending on the underfoot conditions, the field may be further reduced before post-time. It's currently an extremely classy octet, however, and the best bet of the day may be on whether the race produces a photo-finish. The one horse I don't fancy, ironically, is the current favourite Magical. With slight doubts over Sea Of Class's participation, preference is for the French-trained WALDGEIST (6/1) who won the Prix Ganay on his seasonal debut back in April at ParisLongchamp. Unusually, bookmakers could well have over-priced his chances.

4:20 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) One mile (straight course)
A tricky affair with 17 runners currently declared. Perhaps this will be the moment for jockey Frankie Dettori to get on the scoresheet with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Rawda (4/1). Another runner towards the head of the market and whose chances it is difficult to rule out is I CAN FLY (5/1). If further rain fell throughout the day and there was some serious dig in the ground by the time of this race, the colossally-priced Hand On Heart (50/1) may surprise a few of her more fancied rivals by out-running her odds.  

5:00 Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) One mile (straight course)
If you're a fan of competitive handicaps, not many come with more history than this little head-scratcher with just the 30 runners currently set to go to post. The talking horse for the past fortnight and beyond has been the James Tate-trained New Graduate. It's true his form coming into the race looks bomb-proof, but it will still need all of jockey Frankie Dettori's skill and horsemanship to win from stall one. He's currently a 6/1 shot, or thereabouts, and if you have to include him in your calculations there's a chance his price could lengthen the closer it gets to post-time. Drawn on the other side of the track is SENIORITY (18/1) an interesting runner owned, appropriately, by the Queen. Historians will tell you that Her Majesty won this very race in 1953 with a horse called Choir Boy. Two others to consider at hefty odds are Key Victory (20/1) and Circus Couture (33/1), the latter being placed in this race last year. 

5:35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed race) Five furlongs
As with Tuesday, not the easiest getting out stakes with just the 24 lightly-raced colts and fillies from which to find the winner. Plenty come into the race with a win under their belts, but not so many can boast victories with give underfoot. One that can is the Mark Johnson-trained IFFRAAZ (16/1) who may well have seemed like an over-priced runner by about 6pm tonight. Two others to consider are the US raider Foolish Humor (10/1) and Dylan De Vega (12/1).

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Tips with fizz for an unforgettable first day at Royal Ascot

Fetch your fascinators and dust down your topper! Royal Ascot takes centre-stage this week for the world's best festival of flat racing.

Call me a libellous old heretic but, for my money, the (Glorious) Goodwood Festival is actually British summertime's classiest turf affair.

But if pomp, pageantry, and being packed into a train with hundreds of morning-suited drunks is your thing, then you simply cannot beat Royal Ascot for the sheer spectacle of it all. And, believe me, there will be some spectacles.

My first experience of the meeting came when I was living in the town as a second-year university undergraduate (long story). The year Longboat won the Ascot Gold Cup, as if anyone's the faintest bit interested.

As my studies discovered to their cost, that normally sleepy quarter of Berkshire hits the overdrive button for five solid days (for the pedants among you, four 'Royal' days back then and one 'Ascot Heath').

Of course, getting a glimpse of the Queen and having a post-racing sing-song around the racecourse's famous bandstand are all well and good.

But it's the racing that ought to be the star of the show. The contests are top-class all week and range from superb Group 1 contests (this year featuring runners from nine different countries) to those famously tricky and competitive handicaps like the Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham.

If you're looking to trade up from prosecco to Pol Roger, here are some Day 1 thoughts on how you might achieve just that.

Be lucky!

PHILIPPOS

Royal Ascot 

(Stalls centre first three races, stalls inside last three races)

NAP: FORT MYERS
NB: SHAMAN

2:30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) One mile (straight course)
An open-looking contest to begin the 2019 Royal meeting. Mustashry (9/2) has a great chance of landing the spoils after his recent win in the Group 1 Lockinge at Newbury which is also run over a straight mile. But the ground will be ideal for HAZAPOUR (9/1) and the booking of jockey Frankie Dettori for connections catches the eye. There was a shock result in this race last year. At juicy odds, an-each-way tickle on Dream Castle (33/1) wouldn't be the week's daftest idea in case the Godolphin-representative returns to form.

3:05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2) Six furlongs
A race open to both colts and fillies. But as with the Conservative Party leadership contest, this year's affair has turned into an all-male line-up. Whoever wins will see his price tumble for next year's Two Thousand Guineas. Maestro trainer Aiden O'Brien comes into the race quadruple-handed and Arizona appears to be the pick. At 3/1 or thereabouts his odds are fairly cramped, though, so it may pay to side each-way with his stable-mate FORT MYERS (18/1). At even bigger odds, Light Angel (20/1) is also of considerable interest and represents last year's victorious John Gosden stable.

3:40 King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) Five furlongs
A half-million pound race whose result will be determined in less than a minute! If he's allowed to dominate up front, it might be very difficult to peg back the impressive speedball that is BATTAASH (2/1). Last year he was beaten in this race by Blue Point (3/1). The latter is the likeliest challenger once again even though his odds are a tad longer than Battaash's. Equilateral (22/1) is a frustrating sort, but at eye-popping odds he may be worth an each-way chance to peak at the right time.

4:20 St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) One mile (round course)
Of the English, French and Irish 2,000 Guineas winners, only the latter is taking part and here's a race which may witness a shock. Royal Marine's (40/1) form has fallen off a cliff since last season, but that's reflected in his price and is worth an each-way interest. All eyes will be on Too Darn Hot, who promised much last season but hasn't reached the great heights that were anticipated. So the horse to steal the headlines could be the French raider, SHAMAN (11/1) who wasn't beaten far by the impressive Persian King in the Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) at ParisLongchamp.

4:50 Ascot Stakes Handicap Two miles, three furlongs 210 yards
A long-distance race with some runners who'd be more at home at the Cheltenham Festival in March. After half-a-mile they'll be wondering where the fences have all gone. I once spent a night in the Ascot open ditch heading towards Winkfield, but that's a story for another day. Supreme Irish trainer Willie Mullins is presumably not bringing over Buildmeupbuttercup (4/1) for a look at the Berkshire countryside. However, Ian Williams is one of the best dual-purpose handlers in the UK and Time To Study (18/1) is a worthy each-way play. The other contender to consider at similarly juicy odds is Hughie Morrison's FUN MAC (14/1).

5:35 Wolferton Stakes (Listed race) One mile, two furlongs
Not the easiest getting out stakes to round off day one of the Royal meeting. MAGIC WAND (5/1) has perhaps not quite lived up to expectations and could easily bounce back to her best here. Two other runners to consider at far heftier odds are Oasis Charm (33/1) and Zihba (40/1).

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Mad and Max on Duty to run riot on Derby day

At one stage in yesterday's Epsom Oaks, the runners were doing their best Noah's Ark impression and swung round Epsom's Tattenham Corner two-by-two.

Unlike most Classics, there wasn't a great deal of pace in the early part of that race. But I can't believe the same is going to happen today in the £1.6 million Derby, the world's greatest horse race.

With maestro trainer Aidan O'Brien responsible for seven of the 13 runner-field, it's unlikely the race will be run at a crawl - whatever the outcome.

So who will come out on top? The unbeaten Sir Dragonet is the current market-leader and has the potential to be a superstar. But he didn't race as a juvenile and, in what can be a rough race, that's enough to put me off supporting him. Especially at his cramped odds of 3/1 or thereabouts.

Telecaster's recent win at York in the Dante prompted connections to stump up 85 grand to run in today's big race and he now finds himself next best at the top of the market. Personally, I have my doubts and I'll be giving him a swerve, along with another fancied O'Brien inmate, Broome.

My three against the field are: Madhmoon, who stayed on well for fourth in the 2,000 Guineas from an unfavourable draw in May. He's trading around the 10/1 mark.

Circus Maximus could go off at a similar, if not shorter, price with his big-race pilot Frankie Dettori already having tasted success in yesterday's Oaks. Circus Maximus's form stands up pretty well and you write-off his ultr-talented jockey at your peril on big race days.

Finally, it's more difficult to make a case for Line Of Duty because he's definitely not fired this season. But he posted some top-notch efforts as a juvenile winning both at Paris Longchamp on Arc day last October, as well as rounding off his season in fine style at the Breeders' Cup in the US.

There's always a twist in the Line Of Duty plot and we may be in store for something similar today. At odds of around the 40/1 I'm happy to take my chance each-way.

Be lucky!

EPSOM
2:00
Win: Nayef Road
2:35
Each-way: Bella Ragazza
3:10
Win: Bye Bye Hong Kong
3:45
Each-way Muthmir, Harome
4:30 The Investec Derby
Win: Madhmoon, Circus Maximus
Each-way: Line Of Duty
5:15
Win: Sextant
5:50
Win: Spanish City






Friday, 31 May 2019

All eyes on the Oaks

If you were looking to create a track to test the thoroughbred racehorse in the modern age, you'd take one look at Epsom racecourse and design something that was the polar opposite.

Newbury, in all likelihood, about as fair a racecourse as there is. Replete with residential flats alongside the finishing straight and an on-site hotel to which racegoers can retreat at the end of a long day's punting.

Of course, that's not how things worked in the 17th century. Horseracing had started to take place on the Downs as adjacent Epsom village prospered from the medicinal efficacy of its waters on the livers and stomachs of those who had over-indulged

Today, Epsom racecourse is still pretty bizarre by modern designs. A giant horseshoe-shaped track, it features a rise and fall of about 150 feet as well as a pronounced camber from one side of the four furlong home straight to the other.

This makes it the supreme test for thoroughbred racehorses who require that all-important combination of balance, stamina and speed if they are to see out the Classic race distance of a mile-and-a-half.

Today is Oaks day, the third English Classic of the season and a race confined to 3yo fillies. It doesn't have the global punch of tomorrow's Derby, but the race is actually a year older (first run in 1779 when won by a horse called Bridget).

The Oaks has been won down the years by some of the sport's greatest fillies including Oh So Sharp, Diminuendo and Salsabil. Will we see another superstar emerge today? We'll know at about 5pm!

Here are some tips for today's races. Be lucky!

Epsom
2:00
Win: Pinatubo

2:35
Win: Seniority

3:10
Win: Kew Gardens
Each-way: Morando

3:45
Win: Elector
Each-way: Lorelina

4:30 The Investec Oaks
Win: Anapurna
Each-way: Tarnawa

5:15
Each-way: Happy Power