Readers of this column will be happy, if not apprehensive, ahead of the Oaks today at Epsom. Lah Ti Dar, Magical and Sea Of Class have all ended up missing the race which now leaves us with a 9/4 favourite who has the best form in the race courtesy of her win in the Prix Marcel Boussac and her fourth in the Guineas.
The soft ground at Epsom – Andrew Cooper has it described as good to soft, soft in places – isn’t going to be a worry for her based on two-year-old form unless the ground becomes a bog and she’s out of winning two-miler Rumh. The worry for her is that she’s starting from stall 1, a cursed draw at Epsom over 1m4f.
Stall 1 is 0-104 in double-figure fields over 1m4f at Epsom since 2000 – with two defeats when stall 1 was a non-runner – and she’s now short enough here for on the day players.
Aidan O’Brien has won three of the last five renewals of this race and has another stacked challenge. Magic Wand was a convincing winner of the Chester Oaks trial when Forever Together was a fast closing second. Both horses have had just three runs so far with the runner up sure to do better this time, but it remains to be seen how they will respond to being back on a slower surface and there’s strength in numbers from the Ballydoyle challenge.
Bye Bye Baby has shaped like she’d make into a useful stayer for a long time, having won the Staffordshire Stud Stakes as a juvenile, and she made huge improvement from an early reappearance to lead from the drop of the flag in the Blue Wind Stakes at The Curragh. That came on soft to heavy ground so the rain will have suited her and she promises to improve for the step up in trip; She had a widely regarded and impressive maiden winner in the shape of Jaega well beaten at The Curragh and and the third and fourth finished second and third to the smart Turret Rocks at Gowran on Tuesday.
Perfect Clarity was an impressive winner of the Lingfield Oaks Trial who we know will handle the track with aplomb and the way she came from last to first was very taking with the finishing climb in mind today, but she also relished the fast ground then whilst Flattering looked as if she’d very much appreciate more cut in third.
A 10-length winner of a Cork maiden on heavy ground, she would have loved the rain that the Southeast has had and whilst it’s probably not soft enough for her given that the course didn’t take the monsoon that hit the South East, she should enjoy getting her toe in and would not be the most outlandish winner of the Oaks – Was did something similar in 2012.
Give And Take and Ejtyah must improve on the Musidora form and I Can Fly has to put a dreadful Guineas run behind her.
The Coronation Cup (3.10) ought to go to Cracksman by multiple lengths whilst Dark Red can go well in the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap (3.45).
In the opening Woodcote Stakes, Marie’s Diamond ought to take the beating on her debut win or Newbury third, with the ground not an issue for her.
2.00 Epsom – 2 pts win Marie’s Diamond (3/1 general
3.45 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Dark Red (9/1 general)
4.30 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Flattering (25/1 general)
4.30 Epsom – 1 pt each/way Bye Bye Baby (15/2 general)
2018 Oaks – 2 pts each/way Wild Illusion (8/1 general) – 16th May