The Investec Derby meeting at Epsom is upon us and horse racing fanatics will be desperate for the action to get underway in just 5 hours time.
The Investec Oaks is the highlight of Friday’s card and this year’s renewal of the world’s most prestigious fillies’ flat race looks wide open with six horses currently trading at odds of 9/1 or shorter. Nick Wilby takes a look at the Classic and gives followers his two best bets on Friday’s card at Epsom.
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Nick Wilby’s two best bets on Investec Oaks day at Epsom
2.45 - Investec Coronation Cup (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (10 runners) 1m4f10y
Another scintillating renewal of the Coronation Cup looks in store and if the race unfolds anything like last year’s running then punters are in for a real treat. Three horses were separated by a nostril in 2009 but it will take a very special horse to get within that distance of FAME AND GLORY (11/10, VCBet) on Friday and while it would be nice to take on the favourite, it is seriously difficult to look elsewhere.
Had it not been for the mighty Sea The Stars last season Fame And Glory would be heading to Epsom a dual-Derby and Irish Champion Stakes winner and would have netted himself his fifth Group One victory when he annihilated the opposition in the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. Instead, his breathtaking victory two weeks ago was his third Group One victory and perhaps his best.
The selection was always going to be out to fly the flag for four-year-olds in Europe this season and he is rated a whopping 128, three clear ahead of Godolphin’s Cavalryman (17/2, William Hill) and Mick Channon’s perennial bridesmaid Youmzain (8/1, Paddy Power). They could give the favourite a fright if they run their race (they beat Fame And Glory at Newmarket last October) but it is 2009 Oaks winner Sariska (10/3, Ladbrokes) that could cause the biggest problems to Aidan O’Brien’s star.
4.05 – Investec Oaks (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (15 runners) 1m4f10y
This year’s Investec Oaks at Epsom looks one of the most open renewals of the race for some time and the first six in the betting are separated by only four points with odds ranging from 5/1 to 9/1.
The favourite for the race is the unbeaten Henry Cecil filly Aviate (6/1, Ladbrokes) who launched herself to the head of a market with a nail-biting victory in the Musidora Stakes at York last time out. Faced will all sorts of problems in-running, the daughter of Dansili showed a blistering turn of foot to get up on the line and it was a performance that has clearly impressed Tom Queally who rides her over stablemate Timepiece.
Second in the Musidora was Jim Bolger’s Gold Bubbles who misses the trip to Epsom and makes way for stablemate Akdarena (8/1, VCBet) Bolger will know what is needed to topple Aviate after Gold Bubbles scared the life out of her at York and Akdarena could hardly being going into the race after a more impressive performance in a Group Three at Naas. A post-to-post victory saw her annihilate her rivals with a dazzling display and she is more than capable of running well for her legendary trainer.
Still, Henry Cecil has already stated that it would take a special horse to topple his duo at Epsom and TIMEPIECE (8/1, Ladbrokes) still makes plenty of appeal in Friday’s feature.
The selection was backed into antepost favourite for the race some time ago after catching the eyes of watchers at Newmarket and her form on the gallops forced Cecil into admitting that Timepiece was right up there with some of the best fillies he has had.
An unlucky defeat in the Fielden Stakes on her seasonal reappearance (behind Rumoush) did nothing to dampen confidence but Cecil was left scratching his head after the superstar filly got turned over for the second time in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.
The daughter of Zamindar gave weight to her rivals but it was still disappointing she could only finish second behind Dyna Waltz after travelling so nicely in the race. She hit the front a long way from home and battled it out with Celidh House, wandering in front and hanging left up the straight, eventually allowing the winner to swoop on her at the line. The performance forced Cecil to admit “she's a bit of a baby” but it was a hard race and she and Celidh House were sent for home a long way out.
It was a good trial in that such was the pace the race was run at, it is highly doubtful that Timepiece won’t get the 1m4f on Friday and this half-sister to Father Time and Group One winner Passage Of Time should not be overlooked based on any issues over stamina.
Said to work all over Epsom Derby market principal Bullet Train on the gallops at home Cecil has already said he will have the filly ridden differently in the Oaks and the horse, who is clearly a very special filly at home, is in the right hands and she is taken to prove it on Friday.
Timepiece will have to overcome formidable opposition in the shape of 1000 Guineas seventh Rumoush (6/1,William Hill), a filly that has looked ultra-classy so far this season. Her finishing position in the Guineas does not reflect her performance (she finished second to Music Show on the wrong side of the race) and she looks like she should stay the extra four furlongs on breeding.
A line through Music Show puts her in the picture for Friday’s race along with Aidan O’Brien’s Remember When (8/1, William Hill) who finished a neck behind Mick Channon’s superstar in fourth place in the Irish 1000 Guineas. Remember When remains a maiden but cannot be discounted on that basis alone and Ralph Beckett’s Ceilidh House (12/1, Bet365) is also respected.
The real unknown quantity in the race is Michael Jarvis’ Sajjhaa (6/1, Ladbrokes) who currently challenges for favouritism in Friday’s Classic betting. Only seen once on the racecourse when landing an uncompetitive maiden in scintillating fashion a couple of weeks ago, she showed a blistering turn of foot to move away from her rivals in the style of a very good horse.
Despite her inexperience Jarvis is keen to step her up markedly in class and this is a sign in itself that the filly has a great chance on Friday. Jarvis was only just touched off when in a similar position a couple of years ago with Hala Bek in the Derby and her maiden victory was certainly taking.
Whether she should be 6/1 is highly debatable on what she has achieved, but it is impossible to know whether that price will look skinny or big on Friday and she could be head and shoulders above this field for all we know.
Nick Wilby's selections -
4.05 Investec Oaks - Timepiece (8/1, Ladbrokes) NAP
2.45 Coronation Cup - Fame And Glory (11/10, VCBet) nb
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