Tom Lee’s Epsom Downs tips: Andrew Balding's filly good value in the Oaks while Eminent should be prominent in the Derby


Backing the winner of the Oaks hasn't been a straightforward science, or indeed an easy route to the payout window in recent seasons, very far from it!

In fact, looking only as far back as 2008, winners at 33/1 (Look Here), 20/1 (Dancing Rain), 20/1 (Was), 20/1 (Talent) and even more memorably a thumping 50/1 in 2015 (Qualify) have made this an almost impossible test for punters.

More of the same in 2017?

Friday afternoon's feature (4.30pm, live on ITV) has attracted a field of 10, with the betting spearheaded by Aidan O'Brien's Newmarket Guineas runner-up, Rhododendron (1.84).

She not only hails from a red-hot stable, fresh from an Irish Guineas double last weekend courtesy of Churchill and Winter (who beat her last time out), but has further credibility arising from the fact Ryan Moore chooses her from the O'Brien trio, plus the fact she's top-rated in the field on a mark of 116.

That said, Epsom takes a bit of handling, and maybe it's worth recalling that Rhododendron has found one or two too good in two of her three Group One starts.

She might well win, but in a race that simply loves to give an outsider a chance to shine, what about Andrew Balding's filly, Horseplay?

Balding burst onto the scene in 2003 when winning this race with Casual Look, and in Horseplay he might well be sitting on a more than lively each way contender.

The winner of her maiden by a whopping 13 lengths, she comes here off the back of a win in a key trial, the mile and a quarter Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket, the same race to produce the winner of this race in both 2013 and 2014 (Talent and Taghrooda - both of whom also won the Pretty Polly).

Horseplay (17.0) seems to go on any ground and will enjoy this further step up in trip.

Unibet customers could do worse than chance their arm with an each way flutter on her.

Also on Friday afternoon, the day's other feature contest is the Group 1 Coronation Cup (3.10pm), in which proven top-level performer Highland Reel (2.88) looks the one to be with.

Given a nice break since his last outing, this globetrotting star is top-rated in the race and has the assistance of the incomparable Ryan Moore.

As well as winning the King George and the Breeders' Cup Turf, he's also been second in a Juddmonte International and the Arc inside the last 11 months – testament to an extraordinarily talented animal with a vast appetite for racing.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, and the crowds will be flocking to the Epsom Downs to witness who it'll be etching their name on the Derby roll of honour just after 4.30pm.

Worth an astonishing £921,538 to the winner, this has attracted a big field of 18.



Anyone who read my Unibet Guineas weekend long four weeks ago will know that I recommended the Craven winner, Eminent, prior to the 2,000 Guineas, and though he was only sixth there Martyn Meade's horse actually ran a fine Derby prep, staying on at the finish and beaten only three and a half lengths by the outstanding Churchill.

What's more, Sea The Stars in 2009 as well three of the last eight Derby winners arrived via the Guineas route.

This step up in distance can only help in trying to make Eminent the first of Frankel's offspring to land a British Classic.

After all, he handled the track beautifully during the Breakfast With The Stars event last week, and it's worth remembering his prominent position in the betting could be a valuable clue - all of the last 10 winners were in the front three in the market on the big day.

Back Eminent each way for the Derby.