Epsom eyecatchers: Horses to follow from the Derby Festival

By Harry Allwood@harry_allwood
Mon 5 Jun 2023

Harry Allwood kept a close eye on the action at this year's Derby Festival and pinpoints five horses who caught the eye in defeat across both days at Epsom.

Not a Racing TV member? Try us out for FREE for an entire month and enjoy over 100 British and Irish meetings. Start your FREE ONE MONTH TRIAL NOW.


Click here to add Haatem to your Racing TV Tracker.

Race: British EBF 40th Anniversary Woodcote Stakes - Friday.

Nick Luck, Jane Mangan and Martin Dixon analyse Haatem's luckless effort in defeat, with the head-on shots of the closing stages revealing more evidence of the interference Haatem endured

Haatem looked a smart prospect when getting off the mark on his second outing at Bath where he cruised to an effortless six-length victory, and it was no surprise to see him sent off favourite for this 6f contest.

However, after rearing as the stalls opened, Richard Hannon's colt lost the best part of five lengths and found himself detached from the main group of the field for the first half of the race.

He swiftly closed on the leaders in the straight before meeting trouble in running, and failed to got into top gear before finishing a never-nearer third. The clip above shows how much interference this youngster received in the closing stages.

The Course Track figures show Haatem clocked the quickest sectional in the fourth furlong as he began to make ground plus was the second quickest through the final three furlongs.

Given the circumstances, you could easily class him as an unlucky loser, despite the fact Bobsleigh, who had to switch wide and forfeit ground to make this challenge, won a shade cosily in the end.

Haatem is a general 33-1 chance for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and while that is likely to be the hottest two-year-old race at the five-day fixture, he looks a shade overpriced at those chunky odds.

Analysing the race on Racing TV afterwards, Martin Dixon said: "I'm not sure Haatem would have beaten the winner, anyway. On the overhead shots, it was clear that Land Lover was leaning in on Haatem, and it stops his momentum a little bit, which has made a difference to him being able to really find his stride. The winner was probably away and gone at that point, though.

Reflecting on Haatem's performance, Richard Hannon said: “He was the moral winner and I’ll look to take him now to the Coventry or the Superlative, maybe both.

“He just reared up when the gates opened, but that’s two-year-olds for you. He was full of running all the way through the race and made up a lot of ground. Still, getting beat because you’re not good enough would have been a lot worse.”

Pat Dobbs, rider of Haatem, said: “He was just up in the air when the gates opened and he landed flat-footed. He must have lost four or five lengths but he would still have won if he had handled the track in the last two furlongs and not been hanging.”


Click here to add Repertoire to your Racing TV Tracker.

Race: Racehorse Lotto Handicap - Friday.

Martin Dixon, Jane Mangan and Nick Luck analyse the Racehorse Lotto Handicap at Epsom

This seven-year-old lost his way last year after scoring in his return to action - it was a similar scenario the year before, too - but bounced back to win at Newmarket in May and produced a solid effort in defeat here off a 4lb higher mark.

David Simcock's charge was held up from his wide draw, and those tactics proved to be a disadvantage, with Joe Fanning dictating the pace aboard Austrian Theory, who obtained an easy lead.

He was caught on the back foot as the pace quickened turning for home, and was forced to switch wide to challenge after finding himself boxed in ahead of the final furlong.

Once in the clear, Hollie Doyle's mount stayed on strongly and came home the quickest inside the final three furlongs, with a Finishing Speed Percentage (FSP) of 114.48.

While Repertoire isn't the most reliable, this effort proves he is still in form and, based upon the manner of his past two victories - which were both off a rating of 80 - he certainly looks capable of scoring off his current mark, which will hopefully remain unchanged once the handicapper assesses this performance.

A similar race to this looks within his grasp if his connections can keep him in top form.

Martin Dixon said: "Repertoire was staying on right down the outside and making up good ground, but it was all too late. Joe Fanning has ridden them to sleep, he's managed to get things absolutely right on the pace in terms of the fractions he's set, and it has made it difficult for anything to come from off the pace."


Click here to add Toshizou to your Racing TV Tracker.

Race: Betfred Handicap - Friday.

He hasn't recorded a victory for almost three years, but Toshizou again shaped as though he's got a race in him off his rating when things fall right and is worth following this season.

The son of Galileo raced upsides the eventual winner towards the rear, but was left with plenty to do when Cadillac began to make headway, and Toshizou was forced to switch a couple of times when asked for his effort in the straight.

He made up an eye-catching amount of ground from an unpromising position in the final two furlongs to finish fourth, and the Course Track sectionals reveal he was the quickest through the final three furlongs (admittedly, the winner was eased down close home).

This was his second outing over 1m2f (he finished behind Kyprios on his previous effort over this trip) and I would be surprised if connections did not persevere with him over ten furlongs.

He also caught the eye staying on from the rear when fourth in a similar handicap over 1m1f at Newmarket in May, and a race such as the John Smith's Cup at York on July 15 is a potential target, especially as a big-field handicap, with a strong pace to aim at, seems ideal for him.

He was rated 98 when trained when trained by Joseph O'Brien in Ireland, and his rating of 90 should be left unchanged after this effort, so will remain nicely treated.

Martin Dixon's analysis: "Toshizou's picking up the pieces from the back behind the tired ones, and the ones that aren't going on the ground. That's something that he does with regularity and we were saying beforehand he seems a bit tripless. He ran here like he wants further, but I'm not sure he does. I think he just needs horses falling back into his lap. There will be a day where it works out for him, but he probably just needs everything to drop right."


Click here to add Darkness to your Racing TV Tracker.

Race: Winners Wear Cavani Handicap - Friday.

Jane Mangan analyses the finale at Epsom on Friday and discusses how Darkness fared in defeat

Similar to Toshizou, he remains winless for almost three years, although was arguably unfortunate not to end that losing streak at Epsom on Friday.

Formerly trained in France, this five-year-old has gone close on a couple of occasions since joining David O'Meara's yard, including when finishing second off a rating of 87 in April.

He's been ridden patiently on almost all of his outings over the past couple of seasons, but a change in tactics here brought out the best in him, and after racing prominently, he cruised into the lead travelling powerfully over two furlongs out.

He probably hit the front a shade too soon, and still looked the winner inside the final furlong (he traded at 1.12 in running) before being collared close home.

Although Darkness is clearly not the easiest to win with, a positive ride here proved advantageous, and I expect connections will employ similar tactics on his next outing. Blinkers also replaced the visor he usually wears, which may have been a factor in his improved effort, too.

He's likely to be nudged up a few pounds for this performance, but if connections have now found the key to him, then he is capable of landing a similar handicap this season.

Analysing the race on Racing TV, Jane Mangan said: "I thought the pace collapsed in front of Darkness and Hollie Doyle found herself there a little bit sooner than she'd want. She had to commit and she had to go, and it nearly worked. To be fair to the winner, he looked booked for a place two furlongs from home, and he's just ground Darkness down. I don't think Darkness has given in, and you'd have to say the horse who has won has outstayed him on the day."

Hollie Doyle, rider of Darkness, said: “He enjoyed the change of tactics and he’s got plenty of ability, it’s just getting it out of him. It was a decent enough run today, he just got tired close home.”

Silky Wilkie

Click here to add Silky Wilkie to your Racing TV Tracker.

Race: Aston Martin "Dash" Handicap - Saturday.

Martin Dixon analyses Silky Wilkie's luckless effort with Nick Luck and Jane Mangan plus watch what Clifford Lee had to say to Lydia Hislop on Racing TV afterwards

Silky Wilkie was arguably the unluckiest loser of the meeting following his fast-finishing second in the 'Dash' Handicap on Saturday.

The speedster raced behind the leaders and was forced to wait for a gap at a crucial stage, but wasn't able to make his challenge until the final half furlong.

Those traffic problems undoubtedly cost him the race as he was in front a couple of strides after the line.

Although this sprinter has been on the go since November, he has proved a model of consistency, and took a big step forward when bolting up off a rating of 99 on his return to turf in the Scottish Sprint Cup in April.

He failed to land a blow in two Group Three contests afterwards, but his effort here off a rating of 107 suggests he is capable of landing a blow at a higher level, and the Coral Charge at Sandown on July 8 could be tailor-made for him.

Martin Dixon's analysis: "Silky Wilkie was maybe a bit unlucky. For quite a while, he's not able to really open up as he hasn't got daylight behind horses. He possibly didn't handle the downhill part of the track at one point and I think he is an unlucky loser because he definitely got denied a run briefly, and has gone down by a narrow margin.

Clifford Lee said: "I got stopped in my run and I was very unlucky not to get up. I thought if I had the gap earlier, I'd have gone for it and he'd have kept going, but he was very unlucky. I was stuck for about four or five strides and I felt like my horse was always kept in a bit where the track angles downhill. The one on my outside was just rolling in all the time."

Win a Table for four in the Premier Lounge at Sandown on the Sky Bet Sunday Series fixture in August! Click here to enter.

More Latest News



Select any odd to add a bet

Single Bets

Enter a stake to place a bet

Total Stake: 

This video is playing in Picture-In-Picture. Click to Exit.