STAR PREVIEW: The Epsom Oaks
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]izzling weekend of sport very much starts today with the Oaks at Epsom, Men’s semi-finals at Roland Garros and tomorrow is Derby Day at Epsom, the Champions League Final and late night racing action at Belmont Park where American Pharoah will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner.
And it doesn’t stop on Saturday – we can look forward to the Republic of Ireland v England friendly on Sunday at Lansdowne Road !!
The tennis has been kind to me this week in both Ladies semi-finals at Roland Garros but I thought in the early stages yesterday that I was wrong to have opposed Ivanovic. She stormed to an early advantage before Safarova completely turned the set and match around.
Eleven fillies line up for the Investec Oaks this afternoon and the big question this week has been around the ground at Epsom. Thundery showers have been forecast for today but whether they arrive before the race no one seems to know for sure.
Andrew Cooper, clerk of the course at Epsom, tweeted earlier: “3mm rain @EpsomRacecourse this morning. Will call ground Good, Good to Soft in a few places. Mainly Good, bit easier coming down the hill.”
It certainly looks a wide open renewal this year and could easily thrown up another surprise – there have been three 20/1 winners in the last four years.
Legatissimo comes into the race as the form choice and favourite after her win in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. I don’t think stamina will be a concern as such (she has plenty in her pedigree) but I do have to consider that the Guineas was run on ground that was firm in places so the stamina test today, over a more undulating course and on softer ground is certainly exaggerated.
She will have to be extra special to win both races over different ground conditions and I think is priced too short to achieve that.
The Stoute stable has hit a purple patch of form at the right time (four winners from their last six runners) and the unexposed Crystal Zvezda is the bet for me. She stayed on strongly to win a Listed race trial at Newbury over 1m 2f. Certainly, she has to improve further but looks nailed on to relish the trip and has been backed with confidence in the last couple of weeks to end the stables drought in the third Classic of the season.
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