STAR PREVIEW: Oaks Day Epsom

2.00 – 6f (6f3y) Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes (Conditions Race) (Plus 10 Race) (Class 2) (2yo): A competitive race to start the two days and one which is tough to weigh up. Pinaturbo’s debut win – a withering late effort down the outside at Wolves – was backed up by wins for the second and third, and the level of that form entitles him to be favourite. However Misty Grey was a brilliant winner at Ripon and Mark Johnston has won this race three times in the last eight years, whilst Oh Purple Reign comes from the Richard Hannon yard that has won this three times in the last five years. This could be a race to watch rather than play in with Rayong and Dancinginthewoods making it look decent.

2.35 – 1m½f (1m113y) Investec Mile Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-105): Seniority ought to handle Epsom better than most, having won the Golden Mile at Goodwood, and he’s only 3lbs higher here. He disappointed at Meydan when last seen but had previously shown that he could be very competitive off this mark still and perhaps the disappointment of his eighth is best forgiven. If ready for this, he can go close with Henry Candy’s Greenside, who is making up for lost time, considered the biggest threat along with Masham Star and Firmament.

There are many who, like the aforementioned, make serious appeal at the prices but Hors De Combat could roll back the years even at the age of eight. Perhaps Meydan doesn’t suit him so much now but he was sixth in the Hunt Cup and also in the Golden Mile last summer off 103 and he was not suited by the way that the race unfolded when fifth at Newbury, as one of only two horses in the front six to be held up there, and if he improves from that then he can outrun his price.

3.10 – 1m4f (1m4f6y) Investec Coronation Cup (Group 1) (Class 1) (4yo+): After a worryingly lacklustre effort last time, one would be keen to take on Kew Gardens, who looks to be more of a stayer, and Old Persian shades a tight verdict with Lah Ti Dar. He was ahead of Kew Gardens when the two met in the Great Voltigeur last summer at York and didn’t get home in the Leger, but he was an impressive winner of the Sheema Classic when going 2-2 in Dubai, and if he has no ill effects from that stint then he can go well. Lah Ti Dar, knuckled down really well to make a winning return in the Middleton and ought to be much better at this distance.

Morando trashed Kew Gardens in the Ormonde when Kew Gardens was a disappointing second. That was a career best, upped in trip and he is to be respected, but this is much faster ground than he’s been improving on and that’s a new test. Salouen was a fine second in this last year but he had the run of the race and he might well not this year, for all he’s an admirable horse who was sixth in the Arc last year. Communique got a great ride to beat Defoe in the Jockey Club Stakes but this is a step up in class for both and there’s no way that Franny Norton will get such leniency once again. Marmelo, second in the Melbourne Cup, stayed on really well to take the John Porter and will be staying on well although others might have slightly more speed. Cypress Creek is in for pace.

3.45 – 1m2f (1m2f17y) Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+): A lot of these contenders are on the improve and the Newmarket handicap where Elector beat Jazeel showcases two of the most progressive contenders in the field. Elector can go well again but Jazeel, a winner of the Silver Cambridgeshire last year, was beaten only a neck there and has possibly been underrated by the market given that he went off 12/1 on his debut for Jedd O’Keefe at Newmarket. The form of that race has worked out very well – Vintager might have disappointed at Goodwood but fourth Exec Chef was a good second at Chelmsford and Ml Muffrih took the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar earlier this week. Setting Sail can go well dropping in trip, whilst Mountain Angel was a good winner of the City and Suburban Handicap in what’s a deep race.

4.30 – 1m4f (1m4f6y) Investec Oaks (Group 1) (Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo): This looks a quality renewal of the Oaks and fiercely contested too, but by far the best trial came from Mehdaayih when she took apart her opposition in the Cheshire Oaks and she can reward connections’ decision to supplement her here. A promising juvenile, she has transformed for a step up in trip, winning a match at Chelmsford before then sweeping round the turn at the Roodee and leaving Manuela De Vega nearly five lengths in her wake. That came in an excellent time and given that Manuela De Vega was a clear cut Listed winner last October and there’s little not to like given how she handled Chester.

Make it two against the field with Maqsad, arguably as impressive as Mehdaayih when she won the Pretty Polly Stakes. The form of that race might not have worked out as well as one would have hoped, and she was behind Mehdaayih as a juvenile, but she’s improved a great deal as a three-year-old in just two starts and had so much more than five lengths in hand. Stamina is the question for many involved here, but it may be worth chancing and Siyouni has had 1m4f winners before. She’s also out of a Galieo broodmare.

Anapurna was a wide margin winner of the Lingfield Oaks Trial when she ended up drawing right away from Tauteke in second. She handled Lingfield excellently and found overdrive in the last furlong, which gives huge encouragement for today given that she has far fewer questions over her than much of the field, and she is considered the main threat.

It is a serious endorsement of Pink Dogwood’s talent that she runs here instead of Hermosa, the dual Guineas winner who O’Brien had earmarked for a shot straight after she won the 1,000 Guineas. Her Salsabil Stakes win looks better now that Tarnawa, third that day, has since beaten fellow Ballydoyle contenders Delphina and Peach Tree in the Blue Wind. She ought to improve plenty for that run and the trip, but on balance at least three or four other horses have been as impressive or as promising and she can be taken on.

The Musidora this year was an open renewal even by its usual standards and Frankellina was easily the most eye-catching there when dead heating for second with Entitle. Frankel’s rather appropriately named daughter lost three lengths – and the race – at the start, having done well to sustain a big move down the home straight to get into contention before just fading. She can make big progress from that run, and perhaps missing the break might be less impactful at Epsom rather than York, where a good gallop looks more likely. We don’t know how she will handle the course, however.

An impressive debut winner in April at Newmarket, when she handled the dips and undulations of the Rowley Mile with ease, Lavender Blue’s looked set to take Newbury’s traditional trial on Lockinge Day – certainly she was travelling best 2 out, when last on the bridle – before Queen Power came with a late run to win by neck. She can improve again for that experience and she’s bred to be better over this trip, as a sister to a 1m4f winner and daughter of Sea The Stars.

Fleeting bombed in the Guineas but would be interesting on her May Hill win, but Peach Tree might be the best of the O’Brien outsiders. She didn’t get a run in the Blue Wind when behind Delphinia, but it was a good run on her comeback and she’d beaten the winner at Navan at the backend of last season. This is sure to be her forte and O’Brien had Was beaten in the Blue Wind before she won The Oaks. Also, the presence of Donnacha O’Brien appears to be a significant positive. Blue Gardenia and Sh Boom have been beaten in other trials and don’t look upto the test.

Rest of Card:

The Surrey Stakes gives us a fascinating clash between Space Blues, who was transformed by a drop to seven furlongs at York, and 1,000 Guinea fourth Angel’s Hideaway and 2,000 Guineas eighth Urban Icon taking each other on. All three of them make varying amounts of appeal and that puts one off selecting any single one of them.

Ripp Orf clipped heels when an unplaced favourite in this last year but he is as consistent a horse as you’ll find at this level and with a clear run, he’s capable of taking the Investec Zebra Handicap (5.50).

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)

2.35pm – The Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap Stakes
1 pt each/way Senority at 13/2 with starsports.bet
1 pt each/way Hors de Combat at 12/1 with starsports.bet

3.10pm – The Investec Coronation Cup (Group 1)
2 pts win Old Persian at 11/4 with starsports.bet

3.45pm – The Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap Stakes
1.5 pts each/way Jazeel at 13/2 with starsports.bet

4.30pm – The Investec Oaks (Group 1)
2 pts win Mehdaayih at 11/4 with starsports.bet
2 pts win Maqsad at 11/2 with starsports.bet

5.50pm – The Investec Zebra Handicap Stakes
2 pts win Ripp Orf at 9/2 with starsports.bet


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