THERE'S plenty of value around on today’s seven-race card at Epsom, writes CHARLIE CROASDALE.
The feature is the third Classic of the flat season – The Oaks (4.30) – and Aidan O’Brien’s Rhodoedendron will be well suited by the step up in trip from her second-placed finish in the 1,000 Guineas. But there’s no fun in backing a 10/11 shot so I’ll recommend two against her.
Ralph Beckett rarely wastes his bullets when he aims at the Oaks, winning the race in 2013 with Talent, and he saddles Isabel De Urbina, who ran a fine trial when second to Horseplay in the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket.
She makes plenty of each-way appeal at 33/1 but the filly who could emerge as a live danger to the favourite is John Gosden’s Coronet, under Andrea Atzeni.
Sent off 5/2f in the French 1,000 Guineas, Coronet was waited with and given too much to do by Frankie Dettori, grabbing third on the line and looking like the additional two furlongs here will be right up her street.
She was well beaten by Sobetsu that day, but there is a suspicion Charlie Appleby’s filly was aided by the soft ground at Deauville, and I’m backing Coronet to reverse the form. Odds of 10/1 make the Gosden filly the each-way bet.
Mark Johnston landed five decent handicaps last Saturday across Chester, Haydock and Goodwood, suggesting it’s the time to catch his top-end handicappers while they are hot.
With that in mind, Final looks worth giving a chance in the Investec Wealth Handicap (3.45). Johnston’s five-year-old travelled like a dream at Newmarket on May 7 but weakened into fifth in the final two furlongs, so the drop in trip is a plus here. That was a hot race, with Frontiersman and Top Tug forming the one-two, while Final was unsuited by soft ground at York a fortnight ago, but still performed admirably to finish seventh in a race heavily-affected by a low-draw bias.
Franny Norton has a difficult draw to negotiate (10) but Final is versatile in terms of race tactics and may prove well handicapped off 92.
In the Mile Handicap (2.35), Gosden’s four-year-old Remarkable can fend off all 11 rivals despite shouldering top weight and is worth having on-side.
In terms of the Derby itself on Saturday, it’s a wide-open renewal with 19 runners but I’m a little reluctant to put up a confident selection given the forecast thundery downpours at the track late on Friday.
If the forecast rain does arrive, then O’Brien’s mudlark Capri is worth having on-side, given he relished some give underfoot when racking up three wins last season.
However, I’ll stick with O’Brien’s Dee Stakes winner Cliffs Of Moher, who will come on a ton for that win round the Roodee, and is expected to have Ryan Moore in the saddle.
It certainly isn’t beyond masterful trainer O’Brien to oversee improvement upwards of 10lb from Cliffs Of Moher, which would make him very difficult to beat.
For the record, let’s get the O’Brien tricast up with Venice Beach, who knuckled down impressively to claim the Chester Vase last month and, important, showed fast gate speed to grab a decisive lead.
See full story in the Chester Leader