Epsom Derby and Oaks

Friday ITV Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's six bets for Epsom Oaks day

Betfair tipster Tony Calvin
Tony has six bets for Epsom Oaks day

Tony Calvin goes through all of Epsom's seven races on Oaks day on Friday, and our resident tipster has six enticing bets for you to consider...

  • A super six bets for Tony Calvin on Epsom Oaks day

  • Handicap races offer up some big-price opportunities

  • Ylang Ylang looks very solid in the fillies' classic

Ryan Moore Superboost

Ylang Ylang is a strong favourite to win the Epsom Oaks at 16:30 for Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore, and the Betfair Sportsbook have boosted her price to finish in the top three from 1/31.33 to 1/12.00. Just click on the bet banner below to go straight to the pre-loaded bet slip.

My hope that Aidan O'Brien would go down his favoured, short turnaround, Irish 1,000 Guineas to Oaks route didn't materialise, with his three runners from last Sunday's Classic (Buttons, Everlasting and Opera Singer) all no-shows, perhaps predictably enough, so it is back to the drawing board there.

Anyway, we can deal with the Oaks shortly.

I'll take in all of the Epsom races here (not just the usual ITV-only races), and the stats and information below have been extended accordingly.

The going is currently good to soft but it all depends on how much of the forecast rain lands on Thursday afternoon onwards.

Amounts vary but a ball-park figure looks to be 6mm, which wouldn't make much difference, with perhaps another 3mm on Friday from 11am onwards.

We are probably looking at the soft side of good to soft for Friday's racing, maybe even soft

Epsom - 14:00: No Bet

The 6f 2yo Woodcote Stakes at 14:00 opens the two-day meeting and nothing in here at the five-day stage set the bar too highly, which is why I was surprised to see Richard Hannon's The Actor as short as 6/42.50 favourite when I checked the ante-post market on Tuesday, with five of the other 15 entries priced between 4s and 8s.

As it is, The Actor wasn't even confirmed on Wednesday morning - others priced in single figures on Tuesday not running are Sonic Blue and Blew burton - and Hannon relies on his Newmarket runner-up New Charter, second to the Albany-bound Mountain Breeze on good ground in a very good time.

The only horse to have come out of that race, the 15-length ninth, was only beaten two necks at Brighton at 22/123.00 on Tuesday.

New Charter certainly looks the one to beat on form and on the clock, getting 10lb from the winning males, and she could take a lot of stopping from trap three.

The opening 9/25.50 with the Sportsbook looked decidedly generous on Wednesday morning, but it was quickly taken. She went from 9/25.50 to 9/43.25 in five price changes in little over half an hour.

But do you really want to take the 2s about her now on a track like this - she didn't look entirely at ease on Newmarket undulations - against similarly unexposed 2yos on ground she hasn't experienced before?

It wouldn't be for me, and nor is the race as a whole.

Epsom - 14:35: Back Koy Koy & Orbaan

The 1m13yd handicap at 14:35 was reduced from 19 to 16 at the overnight stage, holding up very well, and George Boughey, who had three in here at the five-day stage, has finally caught fire after a very slow start to the turf season.

He really is in good nick now. He was trundling along at a lowly nine per cent strike rate in March and April but he is 10 from 43 in May (also 10 second and thirds).

He won this race with Totally Charming in 2022 and his chosen one is Koy Koy, who made a pleasing return, after an early-season spell in Meydan, at Newmarket recently (first run since March 8th) and he has definite chances of adding to the stable's winners tally this month.

He is already 4lb lower than when a length third at Ayr on his final start last season, a race in which he didn't get the clearest of runs.

I'd much rather lose my own money on my own judgement, rather than what a trainer, a jockey or their agent believes, but it is no negative that William Buick in on board, when he presumably could have ridden my old mate Dancing Magic, a 7s chance, who he rode to finish second at Chester last time.

Sorry Dancing Magic, still a maiden after 13 starts, I have to desert you for now. You know what happens next....

Koy Koy is a bet at 7.06/1 or bigger on the exchange. The 5s, five places, on the Sportsbook is a fair alternative, though there is some 11/26.50 out there, and he is 7.613/2 as this goes live.

Elsewhere, this is an incredibly open handicap, and luck will no doubt play a huge role with so many runners, but all three of David O'Meara's horses have their chances.

To me, Orbaan looks the pick of them, despite being 1lb out of the handicap.

Every little matters in these tight-knit races, so that is not ideal, but he is still on a very good mark at the moment, off an effective mark of 85 here - he finished just over a length fourth off 97 in this race last season - and he looks to be nicely enough drawn in seven.

He usually takes a while to get into his stride at the start of a campaign, so he ran very well when third at Ayr last time on his second run back, and he could now be ready to strike again.

Like all these O'Meara handicappers, he is hard to predict and is no win machine - his last victory came in August 2022 (off 95) - but his only other start at this track saw him finish third off 87 in a 7f handicap at this meeting - and hopefully he will run his race here.

The less rain, the better his chance, for all he has form on soft.

Back him at 15.014/1 or bigger. There is 16s and 14s out there on the fixed-odds front, so that should be attainable and he is currently 17.016/1 in an admittedly lightly-traded market as this goes live.

Epsom - 15:10: No Bet

Epsom have probably done well to get five runners in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at 15:10, and I'd certainly be a backer rather than a layer at Emily Upjohn's current price of around 6/52.20 on the exchange, as last year's winner is easily the best of these and she ran well enough when fifth in the Sheema Classic at the end of March.

I suppose the one nagging doubt if you backed her now would be the possibility of more than 7.5mm of rain up until race-time (she has never raced on officially soft ground, something that Timeform agrees with) but I reckon she should be up to winning this.

Main form rival Luxembourg could get an uncontested lead here (see pace maps below) but he ran pretty woefully in the 1m1f Dubai Turf in March and he is probably better at 1m2f, though his Arc seventh on very deep ground in 2022 suggests he gets this trip well enough.

But, on balance, I'd probably favour Feed The Flame or Hamish (though the latter's price has halved from 20s on Thursday morning) to give the favourite most to do.

Epsom -15:45: Back Mysterious Love E/W & Sweet Reward

The 1m2f+ handicap at 15:45 is another puzzler, as you can make a case for all the runners at their respective prices.

Sweet Reward would be a safer choice at double figures as he is running well and he has good course form - he has won here and finished fourth in this race in 2022 - but I can't pass up Mysterious Love at 50/151.00 each way, four places.

The big negative is that she is due to go down 3lb in future handicaps - and an even chunkier one could be that the jockey Cristian Demuro has only ridden twice around the course before, though he has partnered the filly on three occasions and would have had a sighter on Feed The Flame in the previous race - but that is why she is 50s.

And I guess she has also shown her best form over a mile too, though I don't have too much concern on that score, given her dam won over an extended 1m2f in France and Mysterious Love herself ran well enough over that trip as a 2yo.

I thought she ran a real eye-catcher on good ground over this trip at Windsor last week, deliberately steadied in rear and making her ground widest of all on the unfavoured far side. In the circumstances, she did very well to finish as close as she did, beaten 3 ½ lengths.

I think you must see a more attacking ride from stall four here, if they have serious designs of winning this race, as all of her better efforts have come when she is ridden closer to the pace.

Indeed, she made all when winning her maiden on heavy at Nottingham, and Demuro was on board and forced it when finishing a narrow second in Listed company at Chantilly at two.

I'm happy to take the chance at the price and it can rain as much as it likes for her. I'd much rather she was carrying 3lb less here but she is still fairly treated off 92 on her Group 3 form at Ascot and Sandown last season.

David Menuisier is operating at a recent strike rate of 25%, and has also had five seconds in that period, three beaten a neck or less. I have bracketed both he and Boughey as "excellent" in the stable form assessment, below.

Keep an eye out on potentially changing each way terms, as we have already lost one from the race and Loyal Touch (12/1, so a 5p Rule 4) is set to run at Ripon on Thursday.

I am going to save on Sweet Reward at 13.012/1 or bigger, too.

He currently trades at 14.013/1 on the exchange and is 12s in five places on the Oddschecker grid. He is ground-versatile, he has that course and race form, and he ran well off this mark at Newbury last time.

Epsom - 16:30: Back Ylang Ylang

On to the Oaks at 16:30, and the first thing to say is I think Ylang Yang is a decent price at her current exchange price of 3.1511/5.

A very decent price.

I'd say she wins this race more than one in three times, as it lacks any meaningful depth as it stands., so I had a decision to make.

I know you can't win a race 1.5 times in three, but you could easily argue she should be nearer evens than her current exchange odds north of 2s.

She is not a copper-bottomed stayer on pedigree, and she hasn't raced beyond a mile, but she is the only the Group 1 winner in the race, with easily the best form, and her Fillies' Mile win on soft and her Guineas fifth give you every encouragement that she will stay.

We are all guilty of being a touch blasé about horse's staying - especially when being hiked up 4f in one fell swoop - but if she stays adequately (and stamina is relative to the opposition, as Usain Bolt would find out if racing me over 400m - he'd stay plenty well all right) then she probably wins in my book.

I looked at the race, and basically saw a Listed contest, Group 3 tops, beyond her.

I don't see any of these fillies getting within 10 lengths of the winner at Newmarket, and two fillies out of that race (the 8th and the 14th) have already won Irish and German Guineas since.

But 1m4f is a doubt, all the same, and how many of these are going to step up a good deal here? Quite a few, I imagine, but they will need to make great strides from a pretty low level in Classic terms.

The Sportsbook are helping by paying four places for each way punters, and Seaward (generally available at 66s) would be my pick of the outsiders, but I am going to put up a very rare short-priced bet here - and please note my record with shorties is appalling - basically because I have already punted her myself.

Back her at 3.02/1 or bigger. She is currently available in nine places at 2s on the Oddschecker grid - and even a rogue 9/43.25, which can't last - and she is 3.1511/5 on the exchange as this goes live, but I can see her going off 6/42.50 or shorter.

Epsom - 17:10: No Bet

I said I'd give the non-ITV races a spin and seven go to post in the 7f Scurry Stakes at 17:10. Clearly, it's a big pity that the race has cut up to just two places but we just don't have the horse population to fill these kind of races.

Pandora's Gift, pulled out of the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes on account on the soft ground at Haydock on Saturday, is a horse whose head-down and willing attitude is a joy to watch.

But there are four negatives with her.

One is the uncertain weather forecast; two is the form of the stable (very moderate); three is her 3lb penalty; and, most importantly of all, number four is her price of just 10/34.33 with the Sportsbook.

A definite no thanks, all considered, and Heritage House at 16s probably appeals more. Her stable is going well and perhaps she can benefit if they re-adopted forcing tactics on her here, even if Pandora's Gift and Balmacara could give her attention on the front end.

Epsom - 17:40: Back Rhoscolyn E/W

The card rounds off with a 12-runner 7f handicap at 17:40 and Darkness was the early mover on Wednesday, from 6s into 9/25.50.

He is just 2lb higher than when beaten ½ length by Spanish Star (also in here at a shortening 11/26.50) in this race last season and it will be no surprise if both are major players here.

However, his current price is nothing flash and maybe his stablemate Rhoscolyn, winner of this race in 2021, has more going for him at 9s.

You wouldn't say the handicapper has been quick to drop him but he is down 2lb this season, and you can argue that he has shaped far better than the bare form in all four starts in 2024. Last time out at Chester he got into a barging match up the straight, which did not help at all.

He looks a fair price 9s each way, four places with the Sportsbook, so I am playing. He is only 2lb higher than when winning at Goodwood in soft ground last September.

A busy tipping day for me, but rest assured I will be backing them all with my own cash, too.

Health and wealth and, most importantly in this game, luck.

Go well.


Epsom: Good to soft (6mm Thursday; 3mm Friday)


Karl Burke cheekpieces 15-175 (since 2016)

Alice Haynes blinkers 1-21 (2021)

H Al Jehani cheekpieces 0-0

Harry Charlton cheekpieces 0-1 in 2024

Harry and Roger Charlton 5-17 (2022)

Roger Charlton 7-47 (2016)


2.00pm (little evidence to go on): Atherstone Warrior, Assertively (prominent), End Of Story (prom), Teej A (prom)

2.35pm: Al Mubhir (prom), Dancing Magic (prom), Finn's Charm, Benacre, Autumn Festival, Dashing Roger

3.10pm: Luxembourg

3.45pm: Killybegs Warrior, Bolster, Mysterious Love?, Sweet Reward, Loyal Touch, Sonnerie Power (prom), Lord Melbourne (prom)

4.30pm: Making Dreams?, Rubies Are Red?, Seaward, Secret Satire, Ylang Ylang?, You Got To Me

5.10pm: Balmacara, Pandora's Gift, Heritage House

5.40pm: Dark Thirty, Baldomero (prom), Speeding Bullet, Darkness?

BALLOTED OUT (money back for ante-post punters); N/A

TRAINER FORM - for all with entries in all Friday's races at Epsom (does not include Thursday's results):

Excellent: Charlie Appleby, Ed Walker, George Boughey, David Menuisier

Good: Karl Burke, Eve Johnson Houghton, Ralph Beckett, Ed De Giles (small sample), Aidan O'Brien, John and Thady Gosden, Ben Brookhouse, James Fanshawe, Gavin Cromwell

Fair: Richard Hannon (probably more moderate on the bare figures), Charlie Johnston, Craig Lidster (40-1 winner on Tuesday), Kevin Philippart De Foy, William Haggas (arguably more good), H Al Jehani (only three runners, so not enough evidence really), David O'Meara (borderline good), Pascal Bary, Harry Charlton, Alan King, David Evans, Mick Appleby, Dermot Weld (though not many winners), Patrick Chamings, Grant Tuer, Kevin Thomas Coleman (40-1 winner on Tuesday), Noel Meade, Jim Boyle

Moderate: Alice Haynes, Kevin Ryan (despite winners), Ollie Sangster, Andrew Balding (despite two winners this week), Jonathan Portman (though two of three have gone well, including a 25-1 winner a fortnight ago), William Stone (couple of runners placed of late), Archie Watson, Richard Fahey, Stuart Williams, John Ryan (very few runners, and a 22-1 third on Tuesday), Roger Teal, Richard Hughes (maybe a harsh assessment), Roger Varian

Now read Ryan Moore on his Epsom Oaks day rides here.

Recommended bets


2024 Flat season (day-of-race; Apr 26 onwards):

RETURN: 83.25
P AND L: +38.25

2023-24 NH season:

RETURN: 143.4
P/L:    +16.4

April 16-Oct 31; 2023 Flat season:

STAKED:  202
RETURNS: 168.9
P AND L:  -33.1

March 26 2022 -April 15 2023:

Staked: 436
Returns: 643.6
P/L: +207.6

April 14 2021 to March 25 2022:

P/L: + 183.1


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