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2017 Epsom Oaks tips - 20/1 shot could be Really Special at Epsom this season

Jonathan Vine 19 Apr 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 interesting each-way contender who could make a big impact at the Epsom Festival.

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.

Rhododendron (7/1 bet365) looks the best-placed filly to try and emulate Oh So Sharp's achievement. Aidan O’Brien’s charge is the ante-post favourite for this race and the 1000 Guineas, so if she can score a victory in that race at Newmarket later in the spring, her ante-post price for the Epsom Oaks is sure to take a nosedive.

Three wins and two narrow defeats during her two-year-old season sees this daughter of Galileo hugely-fancied to make a big impact when she reappears. She didn’t run until June last summer, so the 1000 Guineas will more than likely be the scene of her reappearance, but if she has improved as much as connections expect, she will be a big player in Group 1s over the next few months.

Hydrangea (12/1 William Hill) twice finished second behind her highly-regarded stablemate - she was headed to the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh, before a more resounding defeat in the Group 1 Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket. She crossed the line last on her Breeder’s Cup Debut last autumn, despite being handed a favourable inside draw, but a good victory on her reappearance at in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown last month will give her a good platform from which to build a successful three-year-old campaign.

John Gosden’s Coronet (10/1 BetVictor) 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.

Intricately (20/1 bet365) caused a bit of a stir at the Curragh last season, when she edged out Hydrangea and Rhododendron to the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes title. Joseph O’Brien’s filly has been beaten on several occasions by possible Epsom Oaks rivals, including a fourth-placed finish behind Hydrangea at Leopardstown last month in the 1000 Guineas trial. She’s out of the highly-regarded Fasnet Rock and her Dam’s Sire is Galileo, so she’s clearly bred for success over longer trips.

Rhododendron (left) clashing with Hydrangea (right) in the Dubai Fillies' Mile at Newmarket in October.

Promise To Be True
 (20/1 BetVictor) beat Intricately on her second appearance as a two-year-old. Two good wins in her first few starts have been followed by three disappointing showings and a one length defeat behind the unbeaten Wuheida, so she will have to show some definite improvement during the first half of this campaign is she wants to challenge for the title at Epsom.

As will Rich Legacy (25/1 BetVictor), who established a rating of 105 last season, following victories at Newmarket and in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster. She was then beaten by 12 lengths when Rhododendron won the Fillies Mile and fell to a similarly emphatic defeat on a late season venture to Saint-Cloud at the end of October.

Rich Legacy is joined in the field by stablemate Crimson Rock (20/1 bet365), who won by a neck on her one and only start last season for Ralph Beckett. Despite the very subtle margin of her victory in that Class 4 at Newbury, this Fasnet Rock progeny is fancied to show vast improvements when she returns to action this season.

Aneen (25/1 bet365) was beaten by Rain Goddess (25/1 William Hill) when the pair made their debuts at Leopardstown back in September. John Gosden will have been pleased to see his young filly bounce back with a good win in her final appearance as a two-year-old, outstaying 24 rivals to claim a five length victory at the Curragh. Rain Goddess has since finished seventh in the 1000 Guineas Trial, on her first outing of the new season.

Tocco D’Amore (20/1 William Hill) didn’t get a single race under her belt as a two-year-old, but Declan Weld will have been delighted with her debut performance at Naas earlier this month, winning a decent ten furlong maiden by six lengths, so she will certainly be one to watch over the coming months. As will John Oxx’s Bengala (40/1 bet365), who pulled off an upset when she beat several capable rivals, including Aidan O'Brien's odds-on favourite, Bound, to a 9k title at Leopardstown, after going to post as an unfancied 14/1 shot.

Hydrangea clearly has a lot to offer and Intricately looks open to further progression, but it’s very hard to get away from Rhododendron at the head of the betting as the overwhelming title contender. However, for an ante-post wager, an each-way bet is the best course of action and REALLY SPECIAL (20/1 William Hill) makes a strong appeal further down the field.

Saeed Bin Suroor’s charge didn’t make his career debut until October last season, but she went on to land a comfortable victory on the all-weather at Chelmsford, before sealing an excellent three length triumph in the Listed Montrose Fillies Stakes on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.

He spent the offseason racing on the dirt in Dubai, winning well on his Meydan debut. Two surprising defeats followed when carrying a very short price to the post, but she will be well rested and raring to go when she makes her predicted reappearance in the 1000 Guineas in May. If the Godolphin-owned three-year-old can replicate that Montrose Stakes winning run when she returns to British soil, she could go close in the 1000 Guineas and her currently lengthy odds in the Epsom Oaks will no longer be there to be taken advantage of.

2/6/2017 4:30pm Epsom Oaks selection – REALLY SPECIAL each-way (20/1 William Hill)

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