The 48-hour declarations were made yesterday for the Investec Oaks – the third British classic of the season – to be run at Epsom tomorrow and connections of the favourite Mehdaayih – 5/2 with BetVictor – have decided the filly will be ridden by Rab Havlin who has been in the saddle for her three wins.
Frankie Dettori rode the filly on debut and it was felt that the Italian would have the choice of mounts on the two John Gosden runners but that is not the case. Dettori will be in the plate on Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Anapurna who is 6/1 with BetVictor.
Temperatures are set to soar across Britain this weekend and I think we can be certain that Saturday’s Derby will be run on fast ground at Epsom. How the horses cope with the preliminaries will be vital with the thermometer likely to be pushing 30 degrees on Saturday.
They go at Sandown Park this evening and Prefontaine makes his seasonal reappearance for Roger Varian. A market move would be worth noting although I’m not convinced the ground – described as good on Thursday morning – will have enough ease underfoot for the grey.
Preference is for the recent Doncaster winner Rowland Ward (6.30) who looked a smart staying prospect when scoring over 12f last time giving the impression he would be seen to an even better effect over this evening’s additional quarter-mile. The selection was beaten 7L on debut over 7f here behind Too Darn Hot in August, but he meets nothing of that calibre this evening.
Sparkle In His Eye (7.05) ran well in a Windsor Novice last time when carrying a penalty for his Newcastle Maiden win in January and he gets the nod in the competitive Mile Handicap for three-year-olds. One note of caution the runners did appear to be shunning the far rail at last week’s feature evening meeting and, if that is the case, stall one might be a negative.
Fox Leicester has been a beaten favourite in his last couple of starts and is obviously thought capable of winning from his current mark. He represents a big danger.
Four of the six runners in tonight’s 10f handicap won last time out with the other two beaten half a length on their last start. The narrow vote goes to Fox Premier (7.35) who has been raised 6lbs for winning at Chelmsford last time showing much improved form from his juvenile days. All six hold realistic chances but I thought Andrew Balding’s 3-year-old looked a different proposition last time – the hope is that this son of Frankel can transfer that improved form to turf.
Over at Yarmouth and Charlie Appleby is 8-18 with his juveniles so far this season and he saddles Boccaccio (2.50) in the 7f Novice event. The well-bred selection is a son of Dubawi and cost the Boys In Blue 850,000gns as a yearling. I am a big fan of these early 7f contests for 2-year-olds as John Gosden’s Herman Hesse and Richard Hannon’s Al Namir are also bred in the pink. It should be a most informative race.
We put the filly Peace Prevails (3.50) up at Brighton earlier in the week and she was backed from 20/1 to half those odds before coming out on the morning of the race. Her record at Yarmouth reads 21 and she gets the each way vote despite the fact that she is drawn out wide in stall nine – of nine.
Newmarket winner Velorum (4.20) must give 12lbs to the promising filly Audarya but he might be up to it. There was much to like about the selection’s win at HQ last time and he also finished runner up to Skardu back in September. That colt has finished in the frame in two classics so far this term.
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