York winners hold the key for me on the first day of the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs.
Zap won his maiden race at the Dante Festival in impressive style and now he goes for the Woodcote Stakes, a helter-skelter race over six furlongs.
It all comes down to which of the seven two-year-olds best handles the track. The unique undulations make it a tricky affair, but Richard Fahey’s youngster has come out of the York race well.
Previous York winner Home Cummins take to the Downs 35 minutes later in a mile handicap.
She needs to get into the kind of form she showed on Knavesmire last summer.
At 3.45pm Imshivalla returns to the scene of the race that she won 12 months ago. She has plenty of ability, but her form can be a little in and out. Atteq has been running well, especially at Beverley five weeks ago, and must have a chance in the concluding handicap at 5.50pm.
Ten winners of the Dante have gone on to Derby glory, the last being Golden Horn just two years ago – that’s how strong York form is when it comes to the most famous Flat race in the world.Paul Hanagan
I’m not staying at Epsom though; it’s up to Musselburgh for me on Saturday afternoon.
The horse I am really looking forward to at the Scottish racecourse is It Dont Come Easy in the conditions race at 2.15pm.
I fancied him when he made his debut at the Dante Festival last month, but he ran green. The one he’ll have to beat tomorrow is Mark Johnston’s Rebel Assault who was well clear on his debut at Catterick a week ago, but I fancy my chances.
Florida Times, trained in Yorkshire by David O’Meara, must have a decent opportunity in the 2.50pm Listed contest after being placed in a similar race at Newbury. I’m told he’ll run well.
As for my thoughts on the Investec Derby, I would plump for Cracksman.
He missed his intended prep race in the Betfred Dante Stakes, but he had already won the Derby Trial at Epsom and that must stand him in good stead. He also had a spin round the track during last week’s Breakfast With The Stars.
The Betfred Dante Stakes winner Permian must have a great chance too – and what a bit of history would be created if he won to become the first northern-trained winner of the Classic since Dante himself in 1945.
Ten winners of the Dante have gone on to Derby glory, the last being Golden Horn just two years ago – that’s how strong York form is when it comes to the most famous Flat race in the world.
As for today’s Investec Oaks, with impressive Tattersalls Musidora winner Shutter Speed destined for the French Oaks, the way could be clear for Enable to carry the famous green and pink silks of Prince Khalid Abdullah to victory.
Looking back to last weekend, to the first Saturday meeting of the year at York, and I was delighted with my victory on Dal Harraild in the Listed weddingmates.co.uk Grand Cup.
Trained by Skipton-born William Haggas whose stables are in Newmarket, next up for the winner could be a trip to Royal Ascot for the Gold Cup.
The next racing at York is the June Meeting on Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17, the Saturday being the annual Macmillan charity day. Find out more and book tickets at www.yorkracecourse.co.uk