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2017 Epsom Oaks tips - 12/1 shot could upstage the favourite and make an impact on Group 1 debut

Jonathan Vine 31 May 2017
Minding (second right, purple) and Architecture (right, yellow) battle it out for the 2016 Epsom Oaks title.

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting in the Epsom Oaks and picks out an each-way outsider who provides punters with excellent ante-post value.


The feature contest on Ladies Day at the Epsom Derby Festival is the Epsom Oaks, which has seen some of the best fillies ever to grace the sport walk away with the title since it’s inaugural running back in 1779.

The Epsom Oaks is also the second leg of the Fillies Triple Crown, along with the 1000 Guineas and the St Ledger. Oh So Sharp was the last horse to achieve this fantastic feat when the Henry Cecil-trained three-year-old completed that prestigious treble back in 1985.

Three wins and two narrow defeats during Rhododendron's (10/11 bet365) two-year-old season sees this daughter of Galileo hugely-fancied to make a big impact at Epsom this summer. She was the short-priced favourite to land the 1000 Guineas title at Newmarket on her first start as a three year old, but Ryan Moore struggled to find a gap in the large field. By the time she spotted a chink of daylight and made her charge towards the post, Winter had already established an unassailable lead and the favourite had to settle for second.

Winter ran brilliantly at Newmarket to upstage her stablemate, but given a clear run, it's highly likely Rhododendron would have taken that 1000 Guineas title. Aidan O'Brien has decided to keep his two fillies apart this time, with Winter staying in Ireland to claim the 1000 Guineas double at the Curragh. Following that victory, Rhododendron's price dipped bellow the even's mark for the first time and she is likely to go to post at Epsom carrying an odds-on price tag.

John Gosden’s Coronet (8/1 bet365) claimed two narrow victories to complete her two-year-old season unbeaten. In partnership with Frankie Dettori, this daughter of Dubawi won well at Leicester on debut before landing a Listed ten furlong title at Newmarket back in October, edging out Frankel progeny, Cunco to the post by a neck. She returned to action this season in the French Oaks trial at Deauville earlier this month and a strong third place finish will give her a good platform from which to spring an assault at the Epsom Oaks title.

Enable (5/1 Ladbrokes) put on an excellent display of sprinting to beat hot-favourite, Alluringly (20/1 William Hill) to the Cheshire Oaks title at Chester's May Festival. Despite the duo being up against a decent field, they both showed they were head and shoulders above the competition. On another day, Alluringly could have bean Enable and both remain very closely matched. They both showed plenty of speed over that eleven-and-a-half furlong trip and should have the stamina to come with the extra half furlong here at Epsom.

Frankie Dettori riding Enable (right) to victory over Alluringly (left) in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester.


Andrew Balding's Horseplay (12/1 bet365) made a lasting impression last autumn when she hacked up on a rainy day at Nottingham to win a Maiden by 13 lengths. She won impressively on her reappearance this year, beating Isabel De Urbina (25/1 bet365) and odds-on favourite, Astronomy's Choice to the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes title Newmarket. She was an 11/2 shot that day, but put the favourite to the sword to establish herself as a leading player when she makes the trip to Epsom later in the summer.

Sobetsu (12/1 BetVictor) was a surprise 14/1 shot when she beat Coronet to the post in the French 1000 Guineas Trial by almost five lengths. Charlie Appleby was due to skip Epsom to prepare for the French 1000 Guineas next month, but with underfoot conditions at Epsom this week set to be on the softer side of soft, Appleby and the rest of the horses Godolphin connections have decided to have a crack at the Oaks. If she arrives in tip-top shape, she holds definite each-way claims.

Intricately (33/1 bet365) caused a bit of a stir at the Curragh last season, when she edged out Hydrangea (33/1 William Hill) and Rhododendron to the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes title.  Hydrangea herself twice finished second behind Rhododendron in huge races last season, but returned to action this year with a good victory over Winter in the Irish 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. Both looked vastly outclassed in the 1000 Guineas, finishing near the rear of the field, but the advance in trip could see them record much more respectable results.

John Gosden will have been pleased to see Rain Goddess (25/1 William Hill) win in her final appearance as a two-year-old, outstaying 24 rivals to claim a five-length victory at the Curragh. She finished some way behind her rivals in three starts this season and doesn't seem to have the required quality to cause a shock here at Epsom. Bean Feasa  (33/1 BetVictor) failed to impress as a two-year-old and finished fifth in the 1000 Guineas trial Leopardstown. Jim Bolger's filly has since finished second at Gowran Park and defeated Asking (50/1 William Hill) to win the Group 3 Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial, again at Leopardstown. The Irish 1000 Guineas looks like her most likely destination after her trials win, but if she is sent to Epsom, she could attract a few each-way suiters.

Enable makes plenty of appeal based on her Chester victory and Coronet is bound to come on from that Deauville run, but it’s very hard to get away from Rhododendron at the head of the betting as the overwhelming title contender. However, with everyone outside the top three sitting at double figured prices, an each-way gamble looks to be the most prudent bet in this year's Oaks.

Horseplay looks overpriced based on her last two victories and is sure to garner plenty of each-way support, but the best value bet in this race has to be with Roger Charlton's NATAVIA (12/1 BetVictor).

Unlike nearly all of her Oaks rivals, Charlton's filly didn't run as a two-year-old. Her career debut came just over a month ago in a maiden at Newmarket, where she went to post as the 4/1 favourite before narrowly being bested by Dancing Breeze. She was thrust into Listed company last weekend at Newbury and went to post as the firm favourite to land the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trials Stakes. Ryan Moore took the ride on her that day, sweeping to the head of the pack and cruising to a near-four length victory over a mile-and-a-quarter.

Natavia may only have two weeks to recover from her most recent appearance, but she won with such ease, she should be ready well in time for Epsom and the step up in trip shouldn't cause her any problems. She's out of successful sire Nathanial, making her a half-sister to rival Enable, so there is no doubting the Khalid Abdullah-owned filly is bred for top level success. she comes into Epsom well under the radar and if there is a bit of rain in the air in the build-up to the Oaks, she could be well placed to cause an upset.

2/6/2017 4:30pm Epsom Oaks selection – NATAVIA each-way (12/1 BetVictor)


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2017 Epsom Oaks tips - 12/1 shot could upstage the favourite and make an impact on Group 1 debut

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting in the Epsom Oaks and picks out an each-way outsider who provides punters with excellent ante-post value.

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