RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) returns to share his best bets from Friday's action at Epsom.
Friday 3:10 | Coronation Cup | Epsom | ITV
The Coronation Cup run over the Oaks course and distance gets the Group 1 action underway on Friday and though it's a good renewal, there are still slight question marks surrounding the main protagonists. However, I am a fan of the favourite here, and despite a below par return, I expect him to prove hard to beat.
La Ti Dar (7/2 William Hill), owned by the Lloyd Webber's and another of their top-class mare Dar Re Mi's many talented offspring, comes here with a live hope. But I'm still not convinced by her. She scrambled home last time against a fully rated 20lbs below her and she may not enjoy this track either so I'm against her.
Old Persian (10/3 Paddy Power) has started the year in great style with a Grade 1 victory in Dubai, however I suspect that's as good as it will get for him this year. This is his ideal trip but he comes up against rivals who stay better, and in my opinion, he still has something to find with the favourite too.
I'm pretty confident that Kew Gardens (5/2 Bet365) wins this. Granted he was disappointing on his seasonal return, and he flopped on his only previous visit to the track, but he is a vastly different horse now. A dual Group 1 winner, he will appreciate the decent ground and the faster they go the better.
This is Kew Gardens’ early season target and when Ballydoyle aim one here it generally wins. He appeals greatly at 5/2.
Friday 4:30 | The Oaks | Epsom | ITV
The Oaks is one of the key fillies races of the season and it looks a pretty decent renewal. The fillies at the top end of the market look the ones to concentrate on here and there is one I backed a while ago that I'm getting really excited about.
Maqsad (11/2 Paddy Power) wasn't many people’s winter fancy for this race, and when she broke her maiden over a mile at Newmarket in April she was still a huge price for this. However, when she successfully stepped up in trip for the Pretty Polly earlier this month she suddenly became the horse to beat, in my eyes.
Maqsad was visually stunning and with the rain staying away she has a huge chance on Friday. She is the highest rated in the field and her trial has produced some top class winners down the years too. I suspect nothing will be traveling as well as her two furlongs out, and providing her stamina holds out, I think she is the most likely winner.
Coronation Cup – Kew Gardens (5/2 Bet365)
The Oaks – Maqsad (11/2 Paddy Power)