IN-FORM Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his best bets on this week’s Epsom Oaks.
Epsom Oaks | Friday 16:30 | Channel 4
Al Naamah 20/1 (Bet Victor)
Trainer Andre Fabre
Jockey Gregory Benoist
Sent over from France by master trainer Andre Fabre she is an outsider in this field. She won her maiden last year before finishing down the field in a Chantilly Group 3 when sent off a 6/5 favourite. She returned this season going down a short head in another Group 3 race over one mile two furlongs when not looking like she was screaming out for extra distance. Obviously of interest due to trainer but not a likely winner to me.
Bellajeu 40/1 (William Hill)
Trainer Ralph Beckett
Jockey Andrea Atzeni
A four race maiden who came second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial. That was a messy race and though she took her form to a new level on that occasion it didn’t look like a high class renewal of that race and I don’t expect her to be troubling the judge on Friday.
Crystal Zvezda 7/2 (Bet365)
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute
Jockey Richard Hughes
There’s been a lot of money for this filly in recent weeks and she looks like a real contender in this. Related to numerous middle distance winners she looks like she will relish the step up to a mile and a half. She won a Lingfield maiden last season before putting up a very impressive performance on her seasonal debut in the Haras De Bouquetot fillies trial at Newbury. She won as she liked that day and she is a major player in this.
Diamondsandrubies 9/1 (888 Sport)
Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Jockey Seamie Heffernan
A daughter of Quarter Moon who came second in this race in 2002 she may look like the second string on jockey bookings for the boys from Ballydoyle, but she lines up in this on her own merits. She only raced once as a juvenile finishing down the field in a Leopardstown maiden but she put that right on her return this season before coming third in a Navan Listed race. She looked inexperienced that day and that race seemed to make a woman of her. She looked a lot more professional in the Cheshire Oaks and though it wasn’t the strongest of trials she won decisively and her stamina will see her around at the end of this.
Jack Naylor 7/1 (William Hill)
Trainer Jessica Harrington
Jockey Fran Berry
Another horse that has seen a lot of support in the last week, she was a real eye catcher in the Irish 1000 Guineas running on powerfully late on to grab fourth. She beat the favourite Legatissimo at The Curragh last season before finishing fourth to Found in the Prix Marcel Boussac. She doesn’t have a flashy flat racing pedigree but you have to take real notice of her form and looks like she will improve for the step up in trip. She handles quicker ground and she is another I expect to be contesting the finish.
Jazzi Top 14/1 (William Hill)
Trainer John Gosden
Jockey Frankie Dettori
Jazzi Top ran twice last season coming third in a couple of maidens before getting off the mark in a Kempton maiden in April this year. She stepped up on that to win the Pretty Polly at Newmarket and she deserves a crack at this. Having said that she takes on rivals with stronger form in the book and I expect this race to be too hot for Jazzi Top.
Lady of Dubai 12/1 (William Hill)
Trainer Luca Cumani
Jockey Adam Kirkby
Lady of Dubai ran four times last year winning her maiden and coming second in a Listed race. She wasn’t on my radar as an Oaks horse but that changed two weeks ago when she won a Listed race at Goodwood by three lengths. She was very impressive that day, but the step up in class here combined with only having had two weeks since that victory means that I won’t be siding with her here, but I will be keeping an eye on her later in the season.
Legatissimo 3/1F (Bet365)
Trainer David Wachman
Jockey Ryan Moore
The favourite for this race since her 1000 Guineas victory, Legatissimo deserves her place at the front of the market. She was impressive at Newmarket that day, and given that she has won over just short of 10 furlongs previously you would be hopeful she will stay. Her trainer David Wachman has said he’s excited about her stepping up in trip and her breeding offers encouragement too however she did not look short of pace in the Guineas so you cannot go into this over confident that she is an Oaks winner in waiting.
Qualify 66/1 (William Hill)
Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue
A Group 3 winner as a juvenile over seven furlongs, Qualify has raced twice this season finishing down the field in the English and Irish versions of the 1000 Guineas. Though her pedigree suggests she will improve for the step up in trip your only backing this filly if you get her in the sweepstake at work.
Star of Seville 16/1 (BetVictor)
Trainer John Gosden
Jockey William Buick
It’s not often you can back the winner of the Musidora at 16/1 to win the Oaks but you can here. She has won three of her four career starts and is a progressive filly, but I’m not sure she will confirm that York form with the runner up Together Forever, and even if she does I would expect her to find one or two too good for her in this.
Together Forever 11/1 (888 Sport)
Trainer Aidan O’Brien
Jockey Joseph O’Brien
The representative for the father/son combination Together Forever comes here with a solid chance. The winner of the Fillies Mile last season she returned this year with a battling second in the Musidora. I expect her to improve significantly for that race but I’m not convinced she is good enough. Another filly to have been beaten by Jack Naylor I don’t expect her to be giving Aidan O’Brien another Classic victory.
A very open race you can make a case for five or six of these. I’m not convinced that Legatissimo will stay the Oaks trip as well as some of these and I’m taking the favourite on with Crystal Zvezda. I can see Jack Naylor running a huge race also.
1. Crystal Zvezda
2. Jack Naylor
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