Epsom weather set to reach 27C in sunshine as watering begins for Derby fixture

Epsom's famous track is being watered to keep the turf in A1 condition for the Cazoo Derby Festival.

With temperatures of 27C in the forecast, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is taking action to prevent the ground from becoming too quick.

Conditions are described as Good, Good to Firm in places, with two days to go until the Oaks on Friday.

A field of 14, headed by the Aidan O'Brien-trained favourite Santa Barbara, have been declared.

The Irish trainer saddles five runners, as he bids for a ninth success.

Cooper said: “We’ve maintained a going report here of Good, Good To Firm in places and we produced a Turftrax GoingStick reading of 7.1, which is actually what it was on Sunday morning.

“It had increased to 7.4 yesterday morning and the watering that we’ve done has improved matters a touch and brought us back to a stage where we were two days ago – which is historically pretty much good ground.

"However there is definitely ground that’s on the quicker side on bits of the course though, hence that going description."

Ahead of Friday's feature, punters have sided with Divinely, who was 50-1 until fairly recently – and is now as low as 9-1 in the betting.

Ryan Moore has picked Santa Barbara as expected, while he also has the chance to partner Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet when the line-up is announced tomorrow.

Further warm weather looks set to prevail as the countdown continues.

“We’ve had another hot day and it looks a hotter day still tomorrow, with talks of 26 or 27 degrees in the South East," Cooper added.

"Epsom is often a degree or so lower than the maximum because we’re quite elevated here and often have a bit of a breeze so it would often be hotter at Sandown than here in terms of actual temperature.

“The plan here and now is to embark on a watering programme again tomorrow but quite exactly how much we'll leave until the morning. We’ll take stock of the forecasts but I’m sure we’ll be doing something quite widespread because we know we’ll lose 3mm of moisture of soil here on a day like today.

“I’d say that we are now where we want to be in terms of a broad aim for Friday – as opposed to anything any slower or anything any quicker.

"That’s quite a good ground condition to go into a two-day meeting on, which means you can probably let nature take its course thereafter and be no worse than Good To Firm on Saturday.

“You’d have called us Soft on Monday of last week but by Friday you wouldn’t have called it any slower than Good To Soft. All courses up and down the country are drying out at the moment but Epsom Downs being chalk-based is rather free draining and it can turn very quickly.”

Oaks runner Ocean Road had a spin on softer ground at the venue and trainer Hugo Palmer is pleased to see the sun shining.

Friday’s feature is the third Classic of the season and will be the second race in the fillies and mares category of the 2021 QIPCO British Champions Series.

“I never thought this filly was a soft ground filly,” Palmer said.

“We felt it blunted her speed first time out at Nottingham when she was just second to Noon Star and it blunted her speed in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

“I think she has come on an enormous amount from Lingfield. I’d be confident that she has come on at least 10lb and if she has come on 20lb she is going to be right there."

Ocean Road finished third at Lingfield under big race jockey Oisin Murphy, who was riding her for the first time.

"He was really happy with her and so we are all on the same page," Palmer added.

“She is an outsider, but I think she is a lively outsider."

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