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How to spot an Epsom Oaks winner with three weeks to go

| 19.05.2014

John Gosden’s unbeaten filly Taghrooda leads the betting at 7/4 for the Epsom Oaks with less than three weeks left until race day, and while the Pretty Polly Stakes winner has proved a formidable animal in two starts to date, she looks far too skimpily priced at this juncture.

If Gosden’s daughter of 2009 Epsom Derby winner Sea the Stars were to emerge victorious at the start of June at current odds, she would become the shortest-priced contender to do so since Reams of Verse for the late Henry Cecil back in 1997.

Only three favourites for the Oaks – one of whom shared supremacy at the top of the market – have managed to strike in the last 11 runnings of the race, and with former winning trainers Aidan O’Brien, Saeed bin Suroor, Andrew Balding and Ralph Beckett all due back for another tilt, Taghrooda has to be taken on at bigger odds.

Beckett took the event with outsider Talent last term, the third year in a row the winner returned a 20/1 SP following O’Brien’s victory with Wait 12 months previously and William Haggas’ first Oaks winner Dancing Rain in 2011.

O’Brien will travel to Surrey mob-handed as usual, with Bracelet, Wonderfully, Adeste Fideles, Dance With Another and Sparrow priced up between 20/1-66/1 for the Ballydoyle handler at present.

Of that quintet, only Dance With Another at 66/1 has filled the seeming minimum requirement of prevailing over 1m prior to the race, which each of the last 14 winners managed.

However, the Danehill Dancer filly has another trend going against her after making seven starts already in her short career, as the last 14 Oaks winners had made between two and six prior to the big event.

Aside from Taghrooda, only David Simcock’s Madame Chiang of the current leading contenders can boast such a record, after her recent Musidora Stakes triumph under four-time Oaks winning jockey Kieren Fallon.

Simcock has stated he would like some rain before plumping for Madame Chiang at Epsom, but at 10/1 she currently looks the best value horse in the race based on recent history.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune