THE third Classic of the season takes place at Epsom on Friday. Our racing man Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) shares his view.
16:30 Epsom | Channel 4
The Oaks is upon us and though this is not a vintage renewal it's an intriguing race with question marks about most of the fields stamina and ability to handle the ground and a lot of guess work is required solving this puzzle. The favourite looks a cut above her rivals but is she worth backing at odds on? Let's take a look at the field.
Architecture is fancied by connections and Hugo Palmer reckons she will improve for her comeback run and thinks she will outstay the favourite Minding. If her trainer thinks that you have to listen however her pedigree suggests she won't stay and she was out stayed rather than out classed in her trial and she's not for me.
Australian Queen looks out of her depth here and since winning her maiden at Lingfield hasn't shown anything that indicates she's Group class never mind a Classic winner. It's a small field and she may end up running into some nice prize money if others flop but she's a big price for a reason.
Diamonds Pour Moi was third in an Oaks trial at Chester behind Somehow and as that was only her third start it's more than likely we've not seen the best of her yet. She is guaranteed to stay, is open to improvement and there is reasons in her breeding to think she will handle conditions. She's an interesting runner at a price.
Harlequeen from the Mick Channon yard is another filly who looks like she'll improve with experience and is still learning the game. She has a tendency to pull hard and this headstrong filly looks talented but temperamental. If she settles early on then she could go close as despite being bred for a mile she has shown stamina so far and could find her way into a place.
Minding the sensational winner of the 1000 Guineas was surprisingly beaten in the Irish equivalent but is still a worthy favourite here. She banged her head leaving the stalls at the Curragh and was only beaten a head by a talented rival who relished the soft ground. There were 10 lengths back to third and she really lost nothing in defeat.
She's stepping up half a mile in trip and the speed she shows makes you worry about stamina however she has so much in hand over her rivals that she could get away with it. The most likely winner here and a potential superstar.
Seventh Heaven is an Aidan O'Brien runner who is two from 2 this season including the Lingfield Oaks trial yet is available at 20/1 in a nine runner field so it makes you think connections aren't expecting much. She will stay however she is likely to struggle in the soft ground and may be seen to better effect later in the season. I like her and she could fill a place but I think conditions are against her.
Skiffle won a Listed race at Goodwood in fine style and looks a filly of real potential. The first 2 came clear of a strung out field and she comes here a live chance. That was only her second start and her lack of experience is a concern but she looks worth her place here. She needs to improve a lot to win this but she's capable of it. An interesting contender.
Somehow a beautifully bred Ballydoyle inmate who looked workmanlike winning her trial at Chester is Aidan O'Briens second string but could run well. She was outpaced and raced lazily at Chester but in the end she won well and if she learns from that she should travel much better here. Her mum won this race and she looks sure to stay the trip, if anything she may need further in time, looks more of a place bet than a win proposition.
Turret Rocks was one of the top staying juvenile fillies around last season and ran a race full of promise behind Minding in the 1000 Guineas. She looks sure to improve for the extra distance however the ground has really gone against her. At the start of the week she was my each way selection however she has drifted all week and she's now not as appealing as she was 7 days ago.
Summing up, it's a small field for the Oaks and I'm not sure if this will be run at a fierce pace which could make it difficult for doubtful stayers to settle.
Minding looks an uncomplicated sort and despite question marks about her stamina should have the class to see her through. Of the rest I think Somehow may stay in to second with Skiffle taking third. Of the big priced runners I think Harlequeen represents value for each way backers and could be value in the “betting without Minding” market.