Thanks to Will Kedjanyi for this preview and tips on Investec Ladies Day at Epsom featuring the Oaks. For our full range of tips and lots more, learn about joining our Community.
The Derby and Oaks share one thing in common during their recent history. Domination by Aidan O’Brien or John Gosden. The pair have taken four of the last five renewals with plenty of places between them and it’s not a surprise that they have the first and second favourites here. And like each of the four classics this season, Aidan
O’Brien has the strong favourite.
Rhododendron, who went off very short for the 1,000 Guineas after her fine Fillies Mile win, was described by many as unlucky not to have finished closer to her stablemate. The form of that second has been underlined by just how impressive Winter was when taking the Irish renewal and her juvenile form also stands up well so she deserves respect, although she has become very short in the run-up and offers no considerable value.
She also faced a more than reasonable amount of opposition. Enable looked in need of the return and more distance when third to Shutter Speed in a good conditions race at Newbury but she improved a great deal when upped in trip to take the Cheshire Oaks in good style. She convincingly beat the reopposing Alluringly having hit the front with plenty of ground left to cover but the result was never really in doubt and the pair were more than 10 lengths clear of the rest.
The Prix Saint-Alary would normally be a trial for the Prix De Diane but two of the principals from that race could play a big part here. Sobetsu was originally pencilled in for France but has been rerouted after recent rain has taken the sting out of the ground here, which more potentially set to hit the track, and if she’s allowed to take her chance she must go well. A deeply impressive 10 length winner on her second start – having finishing a promising third on her debut – she didn’t appear to enjoy the fast ground when she was a disappointing fifth in the Fillies Mile, but she made a fantastic reappearance when taking the field apart at Deauville. Always front rank and tracking the early leader, she hit the front at the top of the straight and put the race to bed in strides.
The step up in trip ought to be a blessing to her and here and if improving from that performance, or indeed for the step up in trip, she would have every chance of putting it upto Rhododendron and Enable and the form of the Saint-Alary stands up with several involved from the Prix Alary having dominated a Group 3 trial beforehand. Whilst Sobetsu was out in front, things got very rough behind with several not enjoying a good run or having no chance at all, and Coronet found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well backed at Leicester, she was well backed on debut and always set to win despite being green and slow away from an early stage – eventually doing so comfortably.
She stepped up a great deal on that when put in against the boys in the Zetland Stakes, again taking a rear rank early, but responding vigorously when asked to eventually bypass most of the field and then win quite handily considering that she’d circled the field. The form of the Zetland has worked out very well considering that runner up Cunco and third Permian have won group races since (latter notably the Dante) with Wings of Eagles in fourth. She learned a lot coming through the dip that day, experience which should stand her in great stead for today, and was better then
the margin showed.
In France she was backed into 5/2 but could never get into the race from a bad spot, having been forced wide before nearly passing the rest of the field to snatch third. She should arguably have been second there, but the step up in trip ought to suit her a great deal and with a cleaner run she can get closer to her conqueror. Natavia has come a huge way in a very short space of time and her win in the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial was very taking indeed. The worry is just how much more improvement there is forthcoming against similarly unexposed fillies as there will have to be given the strength in depth at the top of the market.
The Pretty Polly has a fine record in this and the 1-2 from this year’s renewal both need respect. Horseplay wasted significantly more energy than second Isabel De Urbina by pulling hard and refusing to settle early, and she would be fancied to confirm the form although both can make decent bids here. Her trainer has taken her to see the track but she handled the dip at Neewmarket without error (as did the runner up) and her breeding ought to give her the best chance of thriving here.
It’s fantastic to see Daddys Lil Darling here, having finished so close in the Kentucky Equivalent, but her only run on Turf was a poor sixth in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay. Improved now, she coped well with the strong pace to finish second there but this might not suit so well. Pocketfullofdreams was second in the Lingfield trial but might be pacemaking.
In the Coronation Cup (3.10) Highland Reel will be very hard to beat if the rain stays away. Forget his seventh at Meydan when the rain came and ruined the ground, and remember instead his wins in the King George and Breeders’ Cup Turf, and his Arc second, and he towers over the field. Journey is the main threat, having been brilliant on Champions Day last year, and she might be more tuned up than Idaho, who showed considerable promise last year even if things didn’t go quite right for him in St Leger (unseated), or at Woodbine in the International. Frontiersman’s supplementary entry here is fascinating given how impressive he was in a Newmarket handicap (still rated only 109) but two of interest for Godolphin are Hawkbill, winner of the Eclipse last year and a strong John Porter on his return, and Prize Money, fourth in the Sheema Classic. Hawkbill needs the rain to come but if it does, he would be of great interest here as he has some of the strongest soft ground form and it would be to the detriment of many others in the field.
Advice – Oaks
4.30 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Sobetsu (8/1
4.30 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Coronet (12/1
Advice – Coronation Cup
On ground good or faster:
3.10 Epsom – 2 pts win Highland Reel
On ground good to soft or slower:
3.10 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Hawkbill