4.30 Epsom: The Oaks
The 3rd classic of the year sees 14 fillies head to the mile & a half start for the Oaks at Epsom. The last 7 winners of this race have been trained by either Aiden O’Brien or John Gosden, but only 2 of those have started favourite in that time. This year, Gosden doesn’t have a runner but O’Brien runs 5 including the first 2 in the market.
Santa Barbara is the favourite but she’s surely too inexperienced to win at a track like this. She won a maiden at 2 and, in her one run since, she went off favourite for the 1000 Guineas & finished 4th. Without doubt, the potential is there but I’d rather have backed her at a more conventional track, given she was a bit unbalanced into the dip at Newmarket. Snowfall was unfancied in the Musidora but dictated matters & landed the prize easily by over 3 lengths. That said, she got the run of the race & is very likely flattered by that run.
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The next 3 in the market are Zeyaadah, Teona & Dubai Fountain. The former was beaten in the Cheshire Oaks by Dubai Fountain, giving 3lbs & getting a terrible run, so it’s easy to see why she’s shorter in the market than that rival but her draw in stall 1 means she’s unbackable, especially at around 11/2. Dubai Fountain could go well but I think that race at Chester suited her well & she may struggle to frank that form. Teona went off favourite in the Musidora but failed to settle & ended up 3rd behind Snowfall. She’s likely to be better suited to this bigger field but might be one for further down the line.
A few at big prices have each-way chances but it’s difficult to quite figure out who holds the best chance so I’ll stick with those relatively fancied & take 2 against the field. The first of those is Saffron Beach who was narrowly denied in the 1000 Guineas behind Mother Earth, finishing 2nd. On that form, she has the beating of the favourite & she looked in need of further that day but there are mixed messages around breeding as to whether she’ll stay the trip. Over a mile and a quarter, she’d be half the price she is, so is worth an each way punt given there is some stamina in her pedigree if you look deep enough. She’s run 4 times at Newmarket, winning twice at 2 & finished 2nd twice this year, and settles well in her races so is one of the more likely types to handle the track. At double figure odds, she holds decent claims.
With AOB’s record in the race, I need to have one on side & that comes in the shape of Divinely, his 3rd string according to the bookies. She has bits of form at 2 but it’s her one run at 3 that appeals. The first 4 from the Oaks trail run here & my selection was 4th but she’s the one I think will come on most for the run. The race was run at an incredibly steady pace yet she settled well, was travelling well down the hill & seemed to pick up well but just didn’t have the pace to hold off the fast finishers at the line. That was her first run of the year & it was raced on soft ground. This better ground will help & she’ll surely be fitter for the run whilst the stiffer trip & longer distance will also suit. Stable vibes have been extremely positive & I cannot see her being out of the shake up.
Back Saffron Beach (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Skybet (⅕ odds 1-5)
PLACED AT 20/1 – Back Divinely (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Skybet (⅕ odds 1-5)