Epsom Oaks Day

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The Oaks revolves around Minding, if she stays and/or improves then she’ll win. I’m not sure if she’ll stay, on breeding she has numerous question marks. Galileo has had plenty of offspring who didn’t stay a mile and a half. The dam’s, Lillie Langtry, side doesn’t have a huge amount of staying pedigree, Lillie Langtry never raced over further than eight furlongs and her dam’s sire, Danehill Dancer, was seen at best effect over six and seven furlongs. The best horses that he has produced are seen to best effect over trips shorter than twelve furlongs, with last years 1000 Guineas winner, Oaks favourite and runner-up Legatissimo a perfect example . With those question marks hanging over here I think it’s safe to say that she won’t improve for the step up in distance. When we add into the mix that this will be her third group one race in a month, the doubts I have begin to increase. After the 1000 Guineas many people were saying that she was unbeatable, despite already having lost in her career. She then went to the Irish 1000 Guineas, as an afterthought, and finished second. I don’t want to knock the Irish form as she pulled well clear of the third and probably ran in a good horse who had their ideal conditions. However that race showed that she is vulnerable and that horse can improve.

With The Oaks being run on a softer surface than what is ideal for her, over a longer distance than advertised and the likelihood that the jockey’s will look to come up the stand side in the straight, again extending the race, I not only think she won’t improve, I also think she won’t run to form. She may not need to run to 119 to win this race, but if she runs 3lbs or more below that, then there are a number of horse who could/should improve for the step up in trip.

Turret Rocks is the obvious place to start, she ran an excellent race to finish second to Ballydoyle at Longchamp back in October 2015. She started this season by finishing sixth in the 1000 Guineas. The trainer has always stated that the longer distances will bring about improvement in her, but maybe more crucially to this horse is the ground. For her to put her best foot forward she needs it quick, something that she’s not going to get on Friday.

Going back to the 1000 Guineas, the fourth placed horse was Fireglow. She didn’t handle the dip and therefore he performance merits and upgrade. She was next seen finishing second the the very highly rated and talented So Mi Dar in The Musidora at York. The fourth placed horse that day was HARLEQUEEN, she was a neck behind Fireglow that day and on a very simplistic formline through that run she has the beating of Turret Rocks. Looking at her pedigree, she’s sired by Canford Cliffs which leaves some doubts about her ability to stay. However she is out of a Rainbow Quest mare, which does add to the case for her ability to stay twelve furlongs. It’s encouraging that she won her racecourse début staying on over a mile on soft ground, before being stepped up in trip for her 2016 seasonal re-appearance. In the ten furlong Tattersalls Millions at Newmarket, on good to soft, she again stayed well to finish second. As I mentioned above her last run was at York over ten and a half furlongs, where she again stayed on well despite being keen in the early stages. I think that she has the second best form in the race behind Minding, I expect her to improve on what she’s show so far and most importantly I see her as a ‘value’ price. I actually have her somewhere near the 9.00 (8/1) mark and if she was trained by a more fashionable trainer then she’d be nearer that price.

Skiffle is currently second favourite, I have two problems with that. Number one being that I don’t particularly rate Charlie Appleby as a trainer who can get a horse to improve and number two I don’t see any form to suggest that this horse is currently good enough to win The Oaks. She was beaten on her racecourse début in a poor maiden four weeks ago. She then went to Goodwood and won a Listed race, however the horse that finished second that day had been beaten at odds-on in a handicap and the third finished behind both Somehow and Diamonds Pour Moi in The Cheshire Oaks. The fourth placed horse was beaten by over ten lengths at the weekend. I think this horse should be at least 10.0 (9/1) and not the current 7.00 (6/1) she is trading at.

I very rarely have an each-way bet, but this is one race where the make-up of it draws into that type of bet.

BACK HARLEQUEEN at 21.0 each-way (1/4 odds, 3 places with Bet365)

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In this race last year I was at the track shouting “come on Andrea” at the top of my voice, I’d had a few Pimms by that point and had topped up my already lumpy off-course bet with some of the 3.00 (2/1) available on-course for AROD. Andrea Atzeni gave him a perfect ride from the front to win by two lengths from Custom Cut, who re-opposes today under the same penalties, which means Arod still carries 5lbs less. Tulius is another that finished behind Arod that day and there’s limited reason to think that he will be able to turn that form around. However the concern with Arod is the ground, he needs it at least good to be effective and with the rain we’ve had this week it may be on the soft side for him. If we hadn’t had the rain then he’d probably be a 2.25 (5/4) shot to win this.

His run at Goodwood last year, where he went down a half length second to Solow is top form, but the ground had some cut in it that day. He also finished three-quarters of a length second to The Grey Gatsby in The Dante on good to soft ground in 2014. If connections walk the course and decide it’s good enough for him to run, then he must have an excellent chance and at 3.75 (11/4) he has to be seen as value. I don’t think that the ground lessens his chances of winning this race by over 17%.

BACK AROD at 3.75 (General)

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