The Oaks on Friday and The Derby on Saturday Headline a Huge Weekend of Horseracing at Epsom

Bet365 UK Derby BetsThey are two of the most famous horse races in the world and they are two of the five classics of the UK horseracing year.

Both the Oaks and the Derby will be taking place this weekend at the Epsom Downs racecourse in Surrey, England in one of the biggest weekends for horse racing fans around the world.

Let us learn a little more about each race as well as looking at the horses we are tipping to shine in both of these globally renowned horse races this weekend.

The Oaks

The Oaks is open to three-year old thoroughbred fillies and is run over 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards. It will be held on Friday 6th June 2014 on the opening day of Epsom, which has also been designated, somewhat appropriately, as Ladies Day.

The race is named after an estate located east of Epsom which was leased by the 12th Earl of Derby in the 18th century. During a party at the estate in 1778, he and his guests devices the race and a year later, the first Oaks race was run, Lord Derby himself owning the winner – Bridget.

Given its prestige, the event quickly became one of the five ‘classic’ races of the year and since 1892, each horse has carried nine stone in the race. The race is actually run over exactly the same track and distance as the following days Derby, but this race is only open to three-year-old fillies and in recent times some fantastic horses, such as Snow Fairy (which won 5 Group 1 races) and Ouija Board (who won seven Group 1 races) have achieved victory in the race.

In the recent past, it has also been a race which has seen surprise winners. Four out of the last six winners of The Oaks have had a starting price of 20/1 or more, however when viewed over a longer period stretching back to 1997, seven favourites have also won the race, which means the favourite has achieve victory around 39% of the time.

With fillies generally being rapid improvers and being able to put in a performance at Epsom that is far in excess of what they have shown previously, picking a winner in the race can be tough, but that said, there can be some excellent value to be found, especially in the each way market.

The Oaks 2014 – our top tips (winner and each way)

The winner

After a fantastic win in the Irish 1000 Guineas, Marvellous has rocketed to the top of the boards and is currently the 3/1 favourite. Given the impressive victory of Aiden O’Brien’s horse in that race, she looks well placed to repeat her triumph at Epsom, but that does depend on the ground being soft, but Aiden O’Brien doesn’t have the best record in The Oaks, despite strong representation in the race over the years, with just one win since 2006.

Another low priced option Taghrooda will be hoping for better going as her credentials, which are very impressive, are based on races ran on ground that is good or better. Soft ground therefore, which is a possibility this year at Epsom, could jeopardize her chances.

So my pick for the race is Ihtimal (7/1 with Bet365), she’s been heavily raced compared to some horses in the field, but has shone at Group 3 and 2 level in particular, she performed well in a tough 1000 Guineas at Newmarket finishing 3rd and has the breeding to stay the extra distance in The Oaks.

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Best each way bet

If the ground is soft, then consider Madam Chiang (12/1) as a great each way bet. She’s won both her races so far on softer ground in France and looks to have the pace and staying power to perform well in what looks likely to be a hugely competitive Oaks field.

The Derby

There was great consternation when The Derby was moved from the first Wednesday in June to the first Saturday in 1995, but since then the race has grown in popularity and is now the richest horse race held in the UK each year.

The Derby owes its success to the success of the first Oaks race, after which a new race was planned, to be named after the Oaks founder, the 12th Earl of Derby or one of his guests, Sir Charles Bunbury. A coin was tossed and the Earl of Derby won, hence “The Derby.”

The Derby is open to all three-year-old horses bar geldings (including fillies with a 3lb allowance) and is run over 1m, 4 furlongs and 10 yards.  It is the richest race held in the UK each year with a purse of just short of £1.5m.

Legendary jockey Lester Piggott has rode the highest number of derby winners with nine, his last being Teenoso in 1983. Some of the most famous horses in history have won this famous race including Camelot (2012), Galileo (2001), Nashwan (1989), Slop Anchor (1985), Shergar (1981) and Troy (1979).

The Derby 2014 – our top tips (winner and each way)

The winner

There is one clear favourite for the 2014 Derby and that is Aiden O’Brien’s Australia (evens). Despite finishing third in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, O’Brien feels that Australia is the best Derby candidate that he has ever trained.

Also in his favour is his breeding as he is out of both a Derby and Oaks Winner in Galileo and Ouija Board. That combined with the evidence at Newmarket which seemed to suggest the mile trip was just a little short for him, the extra distance at Epsom should suit him perfectly and it is easy to see why he is such a hot favourite.

There’s no real reason to back against him here, so Australia is going to be my selection for the winner, but I think there’s some real value to be had in the each way market.

Best each way bet

Australia may be the obvious choice for the win market, but the each way market is far more open. With bookies paying out on the top three finishers and for a great outside bet Kingston Hill (10/1) looks a very good choice.

He didn’t run particularly well in the 2000 Guineas, but he should be in prime condition for the Derby and the extra distance, plus a touch of cut in the ground, could help him push the winners very close and perhaps land a top three finish at worst.

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