Tanya Stevenson
Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog
Friday 6th June 2014

Racing UK

The Highs and Lows of the Epsom Fun Bus

At times I've come away from Epsom on a high and on other occasions the brink of despair.  I've frequented the racecourse across forty fantastic years and although I harbour many punting regrets there is a hook which always draws you back. 

Epsom may be the ultimate challenge for the thoroughbred, but it's even harder for us punters!

Ingrained in my memory is the four-day Derby meeting, with the big one on the Wednesday.  I remember trying to locate Epsom pre-M25 and pre Sat-Nav!  

You actually had to negotiate dual carriageways and try your orienteering skills with the road map.  I wished I still had a copy of a road map from the 70s, or even early 80s, what fun it would be comparing it to the current congestion of tarmac.

Once there, and in my youth I was there with hours to kill, which were well spent exploring the fairgrounds, I lost count of how many goldfish returned with me to Essex.  I even dared venture to the Derby start.

The "lucky" heather was often thrust in my direction, - I wonder how many who ended up pinning it to their lapel brought home endless riches? Palms were read and crystal balls deeply peered into but much of those traditions have all but disappeared.  Car parks have now replaced the locations of where such attractions could be found. A shame as it was a key part of Epsom's fabric.

There is an infinite amount of history and anecdotes to delve into courtesy of a few hundred years of the two feature races. I spent a day on the internet on Tuesday doing just that and found the whole process totally absorbing.

Being aligned with a bookmaker for some of our sport’s biggest days makes me feel very fortunate.  Working on a pitch on Derby day made a deep impression on me due to the enormity of the occasion. Remember in my time there were no exchanges, and bookmakers knew the figures. There were no laptops - it was all done with pen, paper, instinct and a bit of common sense, with a need for plenty of luck!

Having stood at most places around the course my favourite had to be alongside the buses near the jockey number board. It allowed you to read the tic-tacs on the rails a sort of insight into the liabilities of Tattersalls and indeed of the rails themselves. 

I can distinctly recollect wishing one day I could be in members amongst the finely dressed ladies and those gentlemen in morning suits. I was still dreaming of such an eventuality on my way home after a very fortuitous result in 1986. Last year Brian Gleeson and I stood in the very spot I'd hope to all those years ago.

Technology has robbed me of the pure frenetic chaos, as it could be argued the betting ring has no soul now, yet it's still very much there steeped in emotion and adrenalin on the Downs.  It's nothing short of an honour and a privilege to stand in the Queen’s Stand enclosure and be in the media centre to soak up all the buzz beforehand. 

It helps to get the blood rushing and start the threads of the stories when mingling with not only racing journalists, but those that fill the websites or column inches in earlier pages of the broadsheets and tabloids. Many will soon be catching flights to Brazil, where the betting turnover is estimated to be £1 billion on the World Cup!

The Derby does stamp its own mark in the betting turnover barometer, and there will be an infectious interest especially with the inclement weather which is forecast. Let's not forget today, Investec Oaks day. Four supplemented horses, a Classic-winning favourite and the potential for fairytales and poignant triumphs.

Tanya Stevenson's Friday tips

1.35 Epsom: Just The Judge at 9-2 with bet365

2.10 Epsom: Resurge at 10-1 with Paddy Power

3.20 Epsom: Dance And Dance at 10-1 with Coral

Tanya Stevenson’s big-race pointers:

Investec Oaks:

If 17 stand their ground in the Oaks it will be the biggest field since 1982, when Time Charter won.  In that year there were 21 runners.

Eleven of the last 30 favourites have won the Oaks

The last time a horse who ran in the 1000 Guineas went on to win the Oaks was Casual Look in 2003, and she had finished 6th at Newmarket.  (Today Ihtimal hopes to add to the number having finished third at Newmarket)

Only two of the last ten Oaks winners had already run in a Group One

Nine of the last ten winners of the Investec Oaks finished no worse than second on their most recent start. 

Momentus hopes to be the first maiden to win the Oaks since Sun Princess in 1983.

Over the last decade none of the winners had raced more than twice in the current season.  (Anipa, Ihtimal and Marsh Daisy have raced three times, while Palace has run on four occasions)

Princess Elizabeth Stakes

Eight of the last ten winners of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes came from the first two in the betting. Seven of them were favourites

Seven of the last ten winners of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes were trained in Newmarket.

Frankie Dettori has won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes five times- today he has Audacia.

Thistle Bird will attempt to become the third horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. Echelon 2006 & 2007 & Antara 2010 & 2011.

Resurge has won three times and finished second three times from his nine starts at Epsom including the 2.10 Epsom in 2011

Resurge has raced at Epsom 11 times to four wins including success in the 2.10 in 2013 & 2011 and three seconds

Diomed Stakes:

Gregorian last year was the first favourite to win the Diomed Stakes since Nayyir in 2002

William Haggas has had seven winners from his last ten runners in Britain

Gregorian bids to become the fourth horse to win the Diomed Stakes twice

All Friends 75 & 76, Nayyir 2002 & 2006, Blythe Knight 2007 & 2008

Saeed Bin Suroor has failed to win the Diomed on his last nine attempts, although he has had three seconds and three thirds. His last win in the race was Intikhab in 1998

2.10 Epsom:  

Only two of the last ten favourites have won 2.10 Epsom.

Richard Fahey has failed to win this with his last ten attempts, today relies on Hi There.

3.20 Epsom

Seven of the last ten winners of the 3.20 Epsom came from the first three in the betting

Dance And Dance on his two visits to Epsom has won the 3.20 in 2011 and finished second in the Diomed in 2012.