Rhododendron heads a field of ten fillies for a superb renewal of the Oaks with trainer Aidan O’Brien three-handed in his quest to continue his domination of this season’s classics on both sides of the Irish Sea. The Master of Ballydoyle completed Guineas doubles with both Winter and Churchill at the Curragh last weekend, with the former franking the form of the fillies’ classic at Newmarket in breath-taking fashion. Stablemate Rhododendron (4.30) was undoubtedly an unlucky loser that day, finishing second under Ryan Moore, and should go one better stepping up in trip to a mile and a half.
The well-bred daughter of Galileo should thrive for the extra four furlongs and should get a good toe into the race from stablemates Alluringly and Pocketfullofdreams that should set things up perfect for the odds-on favourite. She is 8/11 with BetVictor to claim a second Gp 1 success but I’d also give a good word for Roger Charlton’s filly Natavia who should relish this afternoon’s good-to-soft ground and is bred to thrive for the step up in trip.
Investec Oaks prices from BetVictor
Ballydoyle are likewise three-handed for the card’s other Gp 1 contest with full brothers Highland Reel (11/8) and Idaho (11/2), third in last year’s Derby over today’s course and distance, well-fancied in the Coronation Cup. I’m willing to take a chance on Frontiersman (3.10) taking an almighty step up in grade.
The selection couldn’t be better bred for the job, out of former Oaks winner Ouija Board and by Godolphin’s super sire Dubwai. The 4yo has been slow to come to hand but defied top weight to win a competitive handicap on 1000 Guineas Day at Newmarket and looks to be going the right way for trainer Charlie Appleby. At his current price of 10/1 with BetVictor, I hope to see him reward each-way support.
First-time cheek-pieces should help Godolphin’s G K Chesterton in the Mile Handicap who is up just 5lb for a recent Newmarket success however; preference lies instead with Jeremy Noseda’s progressive Sixties Groove (2.35) under regular partner Adam Kirby. The selection must defy a career-high mark after signing off last term with a comfortable success at Kempton Park but prior to that was a scorer here on the turf and should relish the likely strong pace set by the likes of Chevalier and Calvados Spirit.
What About Carlo (3.45) was third in the corresponding handicap over a mile and quarter 12 months ago and is chanced to go even closer from the same mark this afternoon. The gelding arrives with the yard in sparkling form, and trainer Eve Johnston Houghton winning with five of her last ten runners, the 6yo arrives with everything in his favour. He had a nice spin around Chelmsford as a pipe-opener and is a confident selection to reward each-way support under Tom Queally.
Clive Cox is another with his string in good nick and I can see Kodiline (5.15) in the Surrey Stakes over 7f. The selection was touted as one of the yard’s best juveniles last term, shedding the maiden tag at the second time of asking before acquitting himself with credit in listed company at Newbury and Ripon thereafter. He should improve for the step up in trip and can out-run his price of 10/1 with BetVictor under the excellent Adam Kirby.
I’m looking forward to seeing the return Rae Guest’s filly Berryessa (3.00) who will be fancied to go close under David Allan at Catterick. The selection belied her odds on debut at Lingfield, finishing second over the minimum trip on debut, and justified favouritism when going one better when last sighted in February. She should have more to come now sent handicapping from an opening mark of 69.
Ralph Beckett’s colt Beach Break (3.35) looks to have been found a good opportunity to shed the maiden tag and will be difficult to beat under in-form pilot Phil Makin. The selection showed promise in three starts last term, but bettered that on his seasonal debut when second behind Richard Hughes’ 79-rated filly Nathania last month at Bath. The son of Cacique improved for the step up in trip to a mile and a half and should be able to go one better over the same trip in North Yorkshire.