THE Oaks is the big race on day one of the Derby Festival at Epsom.
It’s a brilliant card and we’ve put together an in-depth race-by-race preview to help you find those all important winners.
Race 1 – 2.00 Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes
The form of PINATUBO’S impressive debut success at Wolverhampton has been franked.
He could prove tough to beat for his powerful connections, though Misty Grey commands a good deal of respect.
Richard Hannon has a good record in this so Oh Purple Reign is another to consider.
VERDICT – 1. Pinatubo 2. Misty Grey 3. Oh Purple Reign
Race 2 – 2.35 Investec Mile Handicap
William Jarvis’s ARIGATO was a gutsy winner over C&D last summer.
He was given a quiet ride on his return to action at Newmarket two weeks ago and his shrewd connections are likely to have had one eye on this race for a while.
Greenside has a wide draw to contend with but looks a big threat off a good mark, while the likes of Firmament, History Writer and Gossiping are others to consider.
VERDICT – 1. Arigato 2. Greenside 3. Firmament
Race 3 – 3.10 Investec Coronation Cup (Group 1)
Not the strongest renewal of this contest but it makes for an interesting betting heat.
SALOUEN was only caught in the dying strides by Cracksman in this race 12 months ago.
He looked as good as ever when winning easily on his reappearance at Ascot, and this looks a good opportunity for him to gain a first Group 1 success.
Kew Gardens is the obvious danger, and Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old should leave his Chester second behind him on this sounder surface.
Lah Ti Dar made heavy weather of winning on her return at York but she will be happier over this longer trip.
VERDICT – 1. Salouen 2. Kew Gardens 3. Lah Ti Dar
Race 4 – 3.45 Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap
MOUNTAIN ANGEL came with a wet sail to win a competitive C&D handicap in April.
He races off a career-high mark now but he is still improving and represents a yard enjoying a brilliant season.
Elector was also strong at the finish when winning on his return to action and he heads the list of dangers. The veteran What About Carlo has solid place claims.
VERDICT – 1. Mountain Angel 2. Elector 3. What About Carlo
Race 5 – 4.30 Investec Oaks (Group 1)
There is a suspicion that Ballydoyle hold PINK DOGWOOD in the highest regard.
She has been well-supported for this race all winter and won cosily on her reappearance in the Salsabil Stakes.
She will have improved plenty of that and should relish the step up to 1m4f here.
It was impossible not to be impressed with John Gosden’s Mehdaayih in the Cheshire Oaks, and she would pose a big threat if handling this quicker ground.
Her stablemate Anapurna was also impressive in her trial at Lingfield and it’s interesting that Frankie Dettori has chosen to ride her.
Maqsad is an exciting filly but my gut feeling is that she will prove best over 1m2f, so a bigger threat may come from the lightly-raced Lavender’s Blue at a price.
VERDICT – 1. Pink Dogwood 2. Mehdaayih 3. Anapurna
Race 6 – 5.15 Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed)
SPACE BLUES bolted up in a hot 7f York handicap earlier this month.
He is up in grade here but he is clearly a Group horse in the making and he can land this en route to bigger and better things.
Urban Icon wasn’t disgraced in the Guineas and is feared most ahead of Happy Power.
VERDICT – 1. Space Blues 2. Urban Icon 3. Happy Power
Race 7 – 5.50 Investec Zebra Handicap
A tough race to conclude the card, but HATEYA was a wide-margin winner over C&D last July.
She has run two encouraging races as a lead-up to this and she can strike for her Epsom-based trainer.
Ripp Orf will be rattling home late, while Nobleman’s Nest retains plenty of potential and can play a part.
VERDICT – 1. Hateya 2. Ripp Orf 3. Nobleman’s Nest