Jawaal was a nice 7/2 winner for us at Doncaster this afternoon and whilst we await this evening's race at Beverley, I've work to do for tomorrow!
The Trainer/Jockey Stats report is Saturday's free feature, whilst our races of the day are as follows...
- 2.40 Haydock
- 3.05 Naas
- 3.55 Leicester
- 4.10 Sandown
- 5.10 Beverley
- 6.35 Bellewstown
The first on that list of races is actually the second most valuable race of the day anywhere in the UK & Ireland and although it's some way behind the £340k on offer to the winner of the Coral Eclipse at Sandown, the £65,216 purse for winning the 2.40 Haydock is not to be sniffed at.
The race in focus, is the Lancashire (God's county) Oaks, a 9-runner, Group 2 contest for fillies and mares aged 3 or over. The going is expected to be Good, even though Haydock's usual rain is on the way and the trip is a mile and a half, of course.
Alpinista is likely to be a warm favourite, but with bookies paying three (or even four is some cases) places, there could be scope for a nice E/W selection, if I don't fancy backing the fav. We start, as usual, with the racecard itself and I've opened up my report angles for you too...
As you'd expect for a race of this calibre, virtually all of the runners come here in good form and allotted weight today is 9st 5lbs, although the three 3yos (Dubai Fountain, Lady Hayes & Mystery Angel) all have a useful 12lbs weight allowance, making the first of those three the best off at the weights overall, as she's officially rated as just 8lbs worse than Alpinista and she's 7pts clear on the Geegeez SR figures.
Alpinista heads the card, though, and she had a great 2020, despite only racing three times, winning a Listed contest prior to runner-up finishes at Gr1 (Yorkshire Oaks) and a Gr3. She returned from a 31 week break at the end of April to beat the re-opposing Makawee by a short head in another Listed race and now comes here freshened by another nine weeks rest.
Bharani Star is a former course and distance winner, albeit in a Class 5 handicap on softer ground and whilst she's no mug, as proven by winning a Listed race at Ayr recently, she'll need to improve a fair bit to be involved here.
Cabaletta also had a decent 2020, winning a Listed race over today's trip at Newbury before going on to make the frame in successive Group (2 then 3) races. Last seen five weeks ago finishing a respectable 1¾ lengths behind the re-opposing La Lune in a Gr 3 over C&D here at Haydock.
La Lune did indeed win the Pinnacle Stakes here over C&D five weeks ago to take her record for the year to 2 from 2, having already won a Listed race at Nottingham . This was a stark reversal of her 2020 form, though, when she failed to win a race and was heavily beaten in her final two runs of the season. If continuing 2021's form, however, she has every chance here.
Makawee is a decent/consistent sort, who was the runner-up in this very race last year. No wins yet in 2021, but she has made the frame in all three starts and was only a short head behind Alpinista in that Goodwood listed contest in April. She probably hasn't kicked on as expected and might find it tougher here.
Tribal Craft has won just one of nine in the last twelve months, but in her defence, it was a Group 3 success over 1m6f last time out! She now drops back to 1m4f, a trip where most of her best runs have occurred. She tends to go well at this time of year and although she'd probably want the ground to be a bit softer, she could well threaten to make the frame.
Dubai Fountain would be best off at the weights based on handicap marks & weight carried here and she also heads the Geegeez SR figures, which might seem strange, but she did win here as a 2yo (7f, soft!) and returned to action in May after 30 weeks off to win the Cheshire Oaks at nearby Chester. She struggled somewhat in the Epsom Oaks last month, seeming to not handle that quirky course, but ran really well to finish fifth in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot just over a fortnight ago when beaten by less than four lengths. Live chance here.
Lady Hayes was 2 from 2 as a 2yo, winning a Class 2, 7f maiden then a Class 5, 1m Novice event. She has ran twice this year, both in 1m2f Listed contests in May, going down by 8.5L and 1L and will need to improve again stepped up in trip/grade to get even remotely involved
Mystery Angel is really interesting at the foot of the card. She made her debut at the end of last August and has already clocked up ten outings, including winning the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket in May. That was over 1m2f but she proved that she "gets" today's trip by finishing as runner-up in the Epsom Oaks. She was admittedly well beaten that day, some 16 lengths behind Snowfall, but she was ahead of the other 12 runners and came from the opposite side of the draw from the winner. There's no Snowfall here today, with due respect to Alpinista, so this filly might well go one better here.
As you'd expect from a field like this, Instant Expert has plenty of green and amber blocks...
...but Makawee & Tribal Craft have both struggled to win over today's trip and have no green at all, so whilst I'm not ruling any of them out here, I'm a little wary of those two at the distance. Alpinista probably wants it quicker and won't want too much of the forecasted rain to arrive.
The immediate inference from the draw stats suggests that low drawn horses are likely to do best here, which is good news for the likes of La Lune, Mystery Angel & Alpinista and this is backed up by the figures from the individual stalls...
...where again stalls 1 to 3 are prevalent, but stall 4's place returns suggest they might have just been a little unlucky to only convert one of six places in to a win, which then brings Dubai Fountain into the equation.
Pace is always interesting here at Haydock and so many jockeys get it wrong. The basic premise (in my mind, anyway) at this track is to get out quickly and then control the race from the front (Franny Norton aboard Dubai Fountain is a master of it here). If, however, you're not one that likes to lead or you're not able to lead, then tuck in at the back and wait for those chasing he leader to get tired before picking them off late on.
The above thoughts on pace are purely my own and are merely anecdotal, but a quick look at the stats backs me up here...
So, we want a low-drawn leader or hold-up horse, do we, Chris?
You sure do! Although the high drawn leaders also do very well. Elsewhere, it's pretty much a tale of woe!
We know our draw and we know what the ideal pace/draw make-up of the race is, so let's put our nine runners' racingstyles onto that heatmap and put it in draw order, shall we?
Based on the above, I'd expect Makawee to try and se the pace from out wide with the likes of Dubai Fountain and Mystery Angel tucking in with her. Alpinista is in danger of sitting too far back to land a blow here, though.
Draws 1 to 4 are where I want to be here and of those four, La Lune in stall 1 is probably the weakest, but if you can get on with a bookie paying four places, then 10/1 is a decent offer. That said, you can get 16/1 about probable leader Makawee holding on and that's also interesting.
As for my three against the field, I'm not keen on Alpinista at 7/4 or shorter. Don't get me wrong, she's a decent filly, but I can't be on at those prices in such a competitive contest, so that leaves me with Dubai Fountain and Mystery Angel.
Truth be told, I like both of them at 6/1 and 11/2 respectively, but if pushed for a decision, Dubai Fountain edges it for me, based on weights/ratings and trainer/jockey/course records.