It seems bizarre to me, dear reader, that by Saturday evening, barely three months into the season, the UK flat racing calendar will have run four of its five Classics. Bizarre and not really a punting proposition.
You see, the nature of these races (even more so nowadays than in the good old bad old days) is that pretty much all of the protagonists are hugely unexposed blue bloods who could, to coin a much hackneyed phrase, 'be anything'.
As a punting medium, we really would do better to steer well clear. But of course we don't. And, as I will be at Epsom tomorrow (very much a social trip), I thought I'd take a look at the big race, The Oaks.
Now I don't have all the stats and facts like Festival Trends does. Actually, there is also a major shout for the Coronation Cup as well (and, no, its not Youmzain!). Festival Trends, as many of you will know, has been banging in some lovely winners since it's inception for Cheltenham this year, and is well in front.
You can get the Epsom guide for a tenner or, the real value is to grab the June ticket, which includes both Epsom AND all thirty (yes, 30!) races from Royal Ascot, plus the big weekend meetings in June. Actually, the real value is to get everything from now until the end of the season with the season ticket, but I digress.
To get any of the Festival Trends subscriptions, click here.
To my Oaks preview:
Ten stroppy teenage girls go to post, and one of them will flounce home the quickest. Let's look at the runners in detail:
High Heeled - two wins from six starts, one of them on the all weather, the other on good to soft. This daughter of a Turtle Island mare may need more juice in the ground. That said, she's by High Chapparal which gives high hopes she'll at least stay the mile and a half trip. She was spanked by Sariska et al at York and it's very hard to see her turning a near eleven length defeat round. Readily opposed.
Midday - 'Sir' Henry's representatives in this race merit utmost respect. Bidding for a fourth win in the last eleven years, and a second in three years, this filly ticks a number of boxes. She's got course form (a 2nd at 1m2f), and bolted up in the Lingfield trial on good to firm, where she beat Tottie and Wadaat by about a furlong. All that said, she's yet to record a fast time, and her 2yo form was only slightly above average. I don't think she'll be quite good enough (though there's every reason to believe 'Sir' Henry will have improved her half a stone since Lingfield).
Oh Goodness Me - With eight runs already under her belt, including two defeats this year, and never having run beyond 1m1f, you'd be forgiven for thinking 'oh goodness me' (or words to that effect) if this swoops past your choice inside the distance. She's not an obvious pick by any manner of means, but the fact that she's only 16/1 in the market and she is handled by shrewd Irish connections mean totally discounting her would be folly. Folly be my middle name - she's got no chance.
Perfect Truth - After the defection of Again, this will be O'Brien's sole runner in the race he won in 2006 and 2001. Like 'Sir' Henry, you always have to respect this fellow with whatever he enters. As with Oh Goodness Me, she's had eight runs already, including a slim verdict over Phillipina at Chester last time. One win from six on turf doesn't look nearly good enough to this punter's eye. The 'Truth' is she won't win.
Phillipina - Touched off by Perfect Truth last time out on just her third start. She's still a maiden and its doubtful whether Sir Michael Stoute would run her if he didn't think her capable of significant improvement. Of course she is, and indeed a maiden won this race back in 1984. However, I believe it unthinkable that she could see off all three of the triumvirate at the head of the market. She'll likely finish in front of her last time out conqueror, as she has much more scope to improve, but she won't be winning.
Rainbow View - Four impressive wins (three of them in Group company) and then a staying on 5th (beaten 3 lengths) in the 1000 Guineas, when the trainer said he only ran her because she was favourite. Read the form comments for the other fillies, and then re-read Rainbow View's. She's quite simply in a different league to these on form. John Gosden, a trainer who I consider to be in the top five in Europe, brought her to Epsom for a spin the other day so she would know where she was going. He said she handled the track well. Will she stay? Plenty of stamina in the pedigree, winner of a stiff mile contest as a 2yo, and in a race where it is quite unlikely to be a true test anyway. So yes, she'll stay. She is unquestionably the one they have to beat.
Sariska - Clear winner of the Musidora, and arguably unlucky not to be unbeaten (she had a nightmare trip in the Dubai Duty Free on her first start this year), she is the big danger to Rainbow View in my book. With only three starts to her name, she still has plenty of scope for improvement, and she looked better for the step up to 1m2f at York. That said, the extra quarter mile is a worry on breeding, and no winner of the Musidora has gone on to win the Oaks for more than a decade. She's a classy lady, but whether she'll get home here remains to be seen.
The Miniver Rose - One win from six starts. Beaten all three runs this year in no better than Listed company. Bred to stay. Little else going for her. Could sneak a place. I'll not be wagering her. 40/1 is about right.
Tottie - The name nigh on guarantees that the Epsom satchel-bearers will take home a plethora of fivers and tenners from dunken Essex lassies (not that I have any problem with drunken Essex lassies!). But she wouldn't win if they put her in the gate for the previous race. Winning Brighton maiden form just doesn't cut much ice in the leading 3yo fillies' Classic!
Wadaat - Bringing to mind those irritating pizza-eating, Budweiser beer-swilling louts from the ad for said drink (Whazzzzzuuuuuuuuup?!), this girl is an immediate strike through in my eyes. Fighting the repellant nature of her name however, and returning to objective form study, this looks another case of Clive Brittain tilting at windmills. That said, he has won the race (way back in 1992, with User Friendly), and Wadaat did indeed finish an unlucky nose second in the Group 2 in Italy last time, over a middle distance trip. Prior to that however, she was walloped by Midday, and she's little / no chance of reversing that in my opinion.
So, for me, it's a two horse race between Sariska and - my likely winner - Rainbow View. I actually believe that these two, and possibly 'Sir' Henry's Midday, are miles clear of the rest, and I'll be extremely surprised if anything else can win.
Rainbow View is a pretty strong fancy.
Now then, you may have noticed the final review for The Protege System, which was posted yesterday. Ultimately it failed to perform, which was disappointing as the angle was not without merit. The same comment applies to Smoke And Mirrors, the final review for which was also posted yesterday.
We've still got a few more days tracking Lowlay (review finishes on Sunday), and we'll be following TUFXP (for any Forex fans out there) for at least another three weeks - I have to say I'm learning a lot from the wise words of Graham C, my Forex man. Not having dabbled in that 'sport' before, it's a really interesting read - though not necessarily for the faint-hearted!
I'm working to try to get some more systems to review, and we'll start these as soon as possible. I hope that you find the approach I've taken - whereby I only contact you with my posts, and you can track the other reviews from the 'Current System Trials' tab at the top of the page - clear and easy to track. Let me know via the comments if not!
Finally, its Thursday, so some fun is called for. Obviously, after saying that the outsiders have no chance in the Oaks tomorrow, it's bound to be a Jet Ski Lady type egg on face scenario. Tipping my hat to that fine and unexpected winner, I wanted to put a video of her win here, but I couldn't find it alas.
So you'll just have to make do with some Jamie Spencer (actually, I don't find this particularly funny, much like when Jamie finds 'a bit of trouble'):
Don't forget to get the full lowdown for all of the Epsom races, including the Oats and Barley (Oaks and Derby) and the Coronation Chicken. This link takes you to Festival Trends. Clearly, I need some breakfast, and soon!