An Oaks Day preview – and an obvious place to start is with the Oaks itself at 4.30. That would be if I could see the wood for the trees in the premier three-year-old classic for fillies. The inclination is to take on short-priced favourite Santa Barbara, who could easily be much the best, but we are yet to see that on the track.
However, finding a solid each-way alternative is tricky, even given the generous concessions on offer wherever you look. Maybe stablemate Willow at a general 25/1 could be the answer, as she has the look of a gradual, slow-burning improver. Coolmore would dearly love her pedigree to receive the requisite boosts obtained by winning the Oaks.
The opening Woodcote at 2.00 will be a blur, as these speedy two-year-olds hurtle across the 6f of this hallowed turf, and there are plenty who have shown blistering two-year-old 5f speed, it is just a question of which can best see out this 6f.
I think the winner will come from either Flaming Rib or Oscula, but the best prices on offer are 3/1 and 11/2 respectively, and they just don’t quite hit the spot. It could be a race to play the reverse forecast, I will be…
Moving on, two each-way bets are there to be had in the 2.35 – Coral ‘Beaten By A Length’ Free Bet Handicap, run over 1m½f. Likely favourite Irish Admiral was a massive eyecatcher over 1m2f at York’s Dante meeting, as he simply sauntered into contention before maybe being outstayed.
He could easily hose up, but Epsom wouldn’t be a track where this leggy unfurnished sort is guaranteed to continue his improvement.
So, it could pay to side with Mostawaa at 8/1 and Hortzadar at 12/1 each-way with Paddy Power, who are offering 4 places each-way.
Mostawaa has been oh-so-consistent in three runs this season, and on the face of it appears as if the handicapper has him by the you-know-whats. But at Doncaster he was in the wrong group as the race panned out, and at Ascot and York the last twice, he helped force strong gallops and still was right in there fighting at the finish.
Granted a tow into the race by the likes of Corazon Espinado, Overwrite and Muraad, it could be that Martin Dwyer can take his record on Mostawaa to 2 wins from 2 attempts.
Hortzadar was a cracking third in the Lincoln, away from the main action, and then was inconvenienced by how the races panned out at Newmarket and Thirsk since that run. On his best form, he shouldn’t be 12/1 in a race that could be run to suit.
The third bet of the day comes in the Coral Coronation Cup at 3.10, and I am taking on all the high-profile horses. All of the main protagonists are very good horses, but we (and the market) know all about them.
Albaflora though, we do not, and she was about as impressive as any horse this season, when winning the Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot on her four-year-old debut.
Albaflora’s change of stride and burst of pace when asked to go and win at Ascot was breathtaking, and given Ralph Beckett has her entered in just about every Group 1 possible, we need to take the hint as to the calibre of mare we are dealing with. She simply shouldn’t be as big as 12/1 with Bet365.
Not everyone will have a William Hill account, but it is definitely worth wandering down to a Hills shop if you don’t, and taking the 9/1 each-way in the three-place market ‘Pick Your Places’ section on the terminals about Albaflora for the Coronation Cup at 3.10.