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Alpinista hits the heights in Lancashire Oaks

Alpinista stamped her class on the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.

Sir Mark Prescott’s filly set the standard on her runner-up finish behind the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last summer, after which she was narrowly beaten in a Group Three at Newmarket.

She got the current campaign off to a successful start in a Listed event at Goodwood in April – and having missed a couple of intended engagements since, she was the 11-4 favourite for the Group Two feature.

With front-running Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel beginning to fade inside the final two furlongs, the Roger Varian-trained pair of Cabeletta and Lady Hayes were left fighting it out for the lead.

However, Alpinista picked up well in the hands of her regular partner Luke Morris to win the day by just over a length.

Morris said: “We’d chosen not to run her a couple of times because of the ground. Today they’ve rolled the dice and she seems to handle firm ground as well as soft ground.

“She was second to Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last year and she’s a Group Two winner now.

“These are the horses you want to ride when you’re getting up early in a morning and getting home late in the evening.”

Prescott’s assistant, William Butler, said: “She’s very game and we’ve trained lots of her family, who were very game as well.

“We were slightly worried about the ground as she was so effective on firm last summer, but her class got her through.

“She’s a Group Two winner, Group One second and dual Listed winner and you can pick your targets now.

“There are races like the Lillie Langtry (at Goodwood) and the Yorkshire Oaks and we’ll make a plan.”

Racing Insights, 3rd July 2021

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.

Summary

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.

 

Boughey hoping Mystery Angel has the answers at Haydock

Mystery Angel will bid for glory in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks on Saturday after her tremendous performance at Epsom last month.

The George Boughey-trained filly was the runner-up at 50-1 when last seen in the Cazoo Oaks, a race in which she finished behind only Aidan O’Brien’s runaway winner Snowfall.

This weekend’s Group Two affair is run over the same mile-and-a-half trip – a distance the three-year-old has now proved herself to be competitive over after previously producing winning and placed performances from seven to 10 furlongs.

“She’s been in good form since the Oaks, we were very happy with her,” Boughey said.

“She stayed the mile and a half well last time and a big galloping track should suit her well.

Mystery Angel (left) finishing behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York
Mystery Angel (left) finishing behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She’s been in pretty good shape and I can’t complain really, she goes there with a good chance.”

Prior to the Oaks run, where she was beaten 16 lengths, Mystery Angel crossed paths with Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York and on that occasion finished only four and half lengths behind the Ballydoyle filly.

“There was no shame in being beaten by her (Snowfall),” Boughey added.

“But it would be interesting to see the race (the Oaks) on better ground because I don’t think we can take the form completely literally as we were only a few lengths behind her the time before.”

Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista currently heads the market for the Merseyside feature after triumphing on her seasonal debut in the Listed Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood in April.

Sir Mark Prescott's Alpinista
Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Dubai Fountain will represent Mark Johnston’s Middleham stable, having improved from a below-par performance in the Oaks run to finish fifth in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “He said: “She disappointed in the Oaks, but took a step back in the right direction at Ascot last time.

“It’s her third race in four weeks, but races for fillies at this kind of level aren’t plentiful so we’re happy to take our chance.

“They’ve all got a little bit to find with Alpinista on official ratings, but her best form would see her right there.”

Henry Candy’s La Lune looks to complete a hat-trick of victories, having won both the Listed Nottinghamshire Oaks and the Group Three Pinnacle Stakes already this season.

Candy said: “She’s in very happy form and working nicely. It’s a big step up in grade for her, but hopefully she’ll be able to get herself in the first four and I’m happy with the way she is.

“She takes everything in her stride and she’s very easy going, and to have David Probert back in the saddle is an important part of the equation I think, so hopefully she runs well again.”

La Lune renews rivalry with Roger Varian’s Pinnacle runner-up Cabaletta, while Andrew Balding’s Tribal Craft comes into the race off the back of Group Three success in the Bronte Cup Fillies’ Stakes at York – beating David O’Meara’s Lancashire Oaks hope Makawee into third.

Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Rothesay Stakes winner Bharani Star and the Varian-trained Lady Hayes complete the competitive field of nine.

Mystery Angel ‘likely’ to take up Lancashire Oaks date

Cazoo Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel could bid to go one better in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on Saturday.

George Boughey’s three-year-old was a widely unconsidered 50-1 shot for the fillies’ Classic at Epsom earlier in the month, but gave members of the Nick Bradley Racing syndicate that own her a thrill in beating all bar Aidan O’Brien’s runaway winner Snowfall.

Mystery Angel is reported to have taken those exertions well and is set to return to action for this weekend’s Group Two feature on Merseyside.

“She’s a likely runner at Haydock on Saturday,” said Bradley.

“She’s in serious form at home – George couldn’t be happier with her. I think if you were to put a gun to his head, he’d say she’s better now than she was before Epsom.

“The Oaks form looks strong. The horse that was 13th (Zeyaadah) won that Group Three the other day and Aidan O’Brien’s filly (Santa Barbara, fifth at Epsom) was just touched off in that Group One in Ireland on Sunday.”

Ben Curtis has been on board Mystery Angel on her last three starts, but could miss out on Saturday after dislocating his shoulder when riding at Newcastle on Friday.

Alpinista could take on Mystery Angel
Alpinista could take on Mystery Angel (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Bradley added: “I don’t know if Ben will be able to ride or not. I think he’s seeing a specialist this week. If Ben doesn’t ride, I suspect Mark Crehan might take the ride.”

Mystery Angel is one of 11 entries for the Lancashire Oaks, with the standard set by Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista.

The daughter of Frankel is rated 113 after chasing home the brilliant Love in the Yorkshire Oaks last summer and could make her first appearance since winning a Listed prize at Goodwood in April, having missed two engagements since.

Henry Candy’s La Lune could bid to follow up her course-and-distance victory in the Pinnacle Stakes, while the Joseph O’Brien-trained Traisha is a potential challenger from Ireland.