If you're thinking of placing a bet at Epsom on Oaks Day, our guide to all five televised races is a must-read.
It’s Oaks Day at Epsom and our resident tipster has run the rule over the fillies’ Classic along with the rest of the Channel 4-televised races.
2.00: Princess Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By Investec) (Fillies’ Group 3), 1m114yds
A field of 10 will go to post for this Group 3 and, while only 40/1 rag Miss Buckshot can be ruled out with any real confidence, it looks a good opportunity for Karl Burke’s ODELIZ to go one better than last year. Just a length separated her from Thistle Bird on that occasion, with the talented Just The Judge in third, and she continued to run well in defeat throughout last season, culminating in a half-length second to Just The Judge in a Grade 1 at Woodbine. If she runs up to that sort of form here, and she should be cherry ripe following a couple of runs this spring, she must take all the beating.
Granted she’s no secret from the bookmakers, who make her clear favourite at around the 3/1 mark – Coral are one of several firms that offering that price – but this has been a good race for market leaders with seven of the last 11 obliging, while three others were placed. William Buick rides here for the first time. Lightning Thunder is arguably the form filly based on her second in last season’s Irish 1,000 Guineas, but she has shown nothing in her last three starts, including at Lingfield on her reappearance with no apparent excuses. A bigger danger than may come from recent Goodwood winner Don’t Be, although the runner-up in that race, Crowley’s Law, could finish closer still with that run under her belt.
2.35: Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap, 1m2f18yds
This is tricky and Mark Johnston confuses matters further by running three, all of whom won last time out. Slight preference is for course and distance winner Sennockian Star, ahead of stablemates Master Of Finance and Fire Fighting, but at bigger odds I’m going to take a punt on PRESBURG being fit enough to himself justice on his return. The six-year-old showed his best form at around this time last season, including when winning a decent handicap at Sandown off a 1lb higher mark than today’s, and he does have some notable course form to his name, albeit back in his juvenile days. Having slipped down to what looks a fair mark, it’s not inconceivable to think that his trainer Joseph Tuite, who has been amongst the winners of late, might have readied him for this, and the booking of talented 3lb claimer Cam Hardie is another positive sign. At 20/1 with Paddy Power, he’s got to be worth an each-way dabble.
On faster ground, the selection would have been William Haggas’ Seagull Star, who hasn’t been seen since finishing down the field in last season’s King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and makes his handicap debut off what looks a workable mark of 93. They’re calling the ground “good”, though, and there are showers forecast, which is a negative when you consider his trainer said he needed fast ground after he won at Newmarket on his racecourse debut. He’s one to keep an eye on, mind.
3.10: Investec Diomed Stakes (Group 3), 1m114yds
Arod ran his best race since finishing fourth in last year’s Derby when third (of 16) behind Night Of Thunder in the Lockinge Stakes and this represents a drop in class. He’s a worthy favourite but 2/1 is pretty skinny when you consider he’s managed to win just a Windsor maiden and a Leicester conditions race, and TULLIUS (11/2 bet365) is fancied to fly the flag for the older brigade.
Andrew Balding’s seven-year-old kicked off this campaign by winning a Listed event at Doncaster and was reportedly unsuited by the “loose ground” when only fourth in a Group 3 at Sandown last time. He’s much better than that, as he showed when winning the Group 2 bet365 Mile last season, and he could well have the ground to suit (rain check needed). The current “good” would be fine but he’s much more effective when there’s some cut, and that would also inconvenience some of his rivals. Connections think he has a Group 1 in him, so he really ought to be up to winning this and it’s worth noting that horses aged six or older have won six of the last nine renewals. That’s a black mark against four-year-olds Arod and Shifting Power, while six-year-old Custom Cut is up against it under a 5lb penalty.
3.45: Investec Mile (Handicap), 1m114yds
Abseil landed this race 12 months ago and he will be a popular order to double up under Ryan Moore, especially as he ran so well to finish third on his York reappearance. However, he’s 7lb higher in the ratings this time around and GRATZIE, who is in receipt of 16lb, looks the one to be on at a generous 9/1 (Paddy Power). Mick Channon’s filly proved a revelation from last summer onwards, winning four of her five starts, including a couple of handicaps over course and distance, and she will come on a ton for her comeback run at Thirsk. She went off co-favourite at the Yorkshire track only to finish fourth, but she hit the rail early and then didn’t get the best passage through the race, so she’s easily excused that effort. Besides, the stable runners tend to need their first run back and, while she’s on a career-high mark, she may be progressive enough to cope and we know she loves the track.
4.30: Investec Oaks (Fillies’ Group 1), 1m4f10yds
The big one now and having put up French raider AL NAAMAH at a big price ante post I’m not going to desert her now. You can read my full write-up elsewhere on this site but, in summary, she’s a sister to 2012 Oaks winner Was, cost her owner’s a whopping £5 million at the sales and can be excused a short-neck defeat in a Group 3 on her reappearance on account she was heavily in season. She’s yet to race beyond 1m21/2f, but everything about her pedigree suggests she will relish the step up to 1m4f and her trainer, the genius that is Andre Fabre, is adamant it’ll be the making of her. He went to the trouble of flying over today’s pilot Gregory Benoist to partner the filly at the recent ‘Breakfast With The Stars’ and she appeared to handle the undulating track very well. I also like her draw in stall three, neither too wide or right against the rail, and she still represents some each-way value at the 18/1 on offer at Paddy Power.
In my ante post piece, I did recommend a punt also on 1,000 Guineas winner Legatissimo once she had been confirmed a runner and I still hold to that. David Wachman’s filly looks certain to stay far better than most Guineas winners and she may even turn out to be better over middle distances. The problem now is that she’s just 3/1 but, even so, I wouldn’t put anyone off backing her.
There are free bets to be had at bet365 thanks to their Channel 4/1 Offer. Back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the above Channel 4-televised races and they will give you a free bet to the same stake (up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4. If that also wins at 4/1 or bigger, get another free bet and so on.
Good luck with your Epsom bets!