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Epsom Oaks Selections

We have a real treat today (and tomorrow actually) with an analysis of Friday's Investec Oaks along with some recommended bets from Nick Hardman of Betting Insiders.

Investec Oaks Preview

The Oaks looks like a great betting race on Friday.

Taghrooda and Marvellous head the betting with Tarfasha and Ihtimal not too far behind.

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Everything else is available at double figures which makes this an ideal race for each-way players. It is certainly not a race for favourite backers in recent times with the last four winners returning at odds of 20/1 (Talent 2013), 20/1 (Was 2012), 20/1 (Dancing Rain 2011) and 9/1 (Snow Fairy 2010).

Sariska in 2009 was the last favourite to win. In 2008 it was another big outsider who prevailed in Look Here @33/1. In fact only 3 favourites have prevailed in the last 10 years.

The Oaks has some strong trends and that is where we will start.

All of the last 10 winners had raced over further than a mile. That is a really interesting statistic as it would rule out leading fancy Marvellous.

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Casual Look in 2003 was the last filly to win stepping up from a mile.

Six of the last 10 winners won last time out which would rule out Ihtimal from those prominent in the market.

Interestingly it would also rule out all of the O’Brien runners with the exception of Marvellous.

I wouldn’t actually let that put you off backing Ihtimal as a stronger statistic is that 15 of the last 17 winners had a top three finish last time out and she qualifies on that score.

In fact Ihtimal is a fascinating runner. She has form on good-to-soft, good-to-firm and on tapeta where she won the UAE 100 Guineas and the UAE Oaks over 10 furlongs.

Both were Group 3 races but she followed that up with an excellent third in the 1000 Guineas at the Rowley Mile. Of those at the front of the market I think she represents the best value at 8/1.

The lightly raced Madame Chiang is another fascinating runner, especially if the rain gets into the ground between now and race day.

She has only seen a racecourse twice; winning her maiden over a mile on soft ground at Yarmouth before winning the Musidora over 10f at York on her seasonal reappearance (also on soft ground).

With plenty of improvement possible and bred to stay the extra 2 furlongs, she also represents value at the current odds of 14/1.

John Gosden’s string are in cracking form at the moment, especially his fillies. Sultanina (10/1) and Freedom’s Light (9/1) were first and second in a photo finish in the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock last Saturday, thrashing the likes of Group winner Cubanita and Sir Maichael Stoute’s Astonishing.

Taghrooda is Gosden’s only representative and if she is the pick of his middle distance fillies at home then she could be hard to beat. I prefer her over Aiden O’Brien’s Marvellous for the simple reason she has form in the book over 10f and has fewer questions to answer regarding the trip of 1m 4f. However, at 7/2 I am prepared to look elsewhere.

In addition to the big priced outsiders who have won this race in recent times, we have also had placed horses at 16/1, 16/1, 25/1, 25/1 and 25/1 in the last 5 years.

Of those that are currently in that price bracket, Luca Cumani’s Volume has possibilities of making the frame. She has yet to finish out of the 3 in 8 races to date, although two of those were handicaps. She also won the trial at Newbury which is the same race where Izzy Top beat Dancing Rain in 2012.

Those two went on to contest the Oaks and finished 3rd and 1st at 25/1 and 20/1 respectively. She has to improve on what she has done so far but if the ground has some juice in it then she looks all about stamina and could be staying on at the end.

Epsom Oaks Selections:

Best value: Intimal @8/1
Each-way alternative: Madame Chiang @14/1
Lively outsider: Volume @20/1 (each-way)


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