Matt Brocklebank turns his attention to the Investec Oaks at Epsom and identifies a 33/1 shot he's keen to get on side following this week's trials.
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The decision by one bookmaker to ease MANUELA DE VEGA to 33/1 (bet365) for the Investec Oaks following her pleasing reappearance run at Chester in the week was surprising and Ralph Beckett’s filly is well worth an each-way interest at that revised price.
Beckett has a very respectable record in the Oaks, winning the Epsom Classic in 2008 with Look Here and again with Talent in 2013, while Isabel De Urbina was sixth a couple of years ago at 33/1.
Manuela De Vega is a full-sister to Isabel De Urbina, as well as being a half to this year’s Lincoln winner Auxerre, and she has no shortage of ability herself based on what we’ve seen in three starts so far.
The daughter of Lope De Vega won her two juvenile outings, backing up a seven furlong maiden victory at Salisbury with an ultimately very easy Listed success over a mile at Pontefract in October.
Runner-up Three Comets didn’t do a great deal for the form when well beaten by Anthony Van Dyck in the Lingfield Derby Trial at the weekend, but Manuela De Vega beating the boys last term was an encouraging sign and she shaped really well in the Cheshire Oaks on Wednesday.
Conceding 3lb all round and a little easy in the betting before the race, she ran like the outing would do her good physically – something backed up by Beckett in his post-race interview when stating she was barely ready to return to the track until around a week before Chester – but she did stay on very well at the finish.
This after travelling smoothly throughout for Harry Bentley and while eventual runaway winner Mehdaayih skipped around the outside of the field turning into the straight, Bentley was momentarily caught in a pocket behind the weakening 100/1 front-runner Wanaasah.
Manuela De Vega stayed on in good style on the inside rail up the short straight, hinting that a truly-run mile and a half around Epsom would suit her ideally and, off level weights with the match-fitness under her belt, there’s a case to be made for her bridging the gap on Mehdaayih, who was fit from the all-weather.
There’s also a chance that John Gosden’s filly was potentially a shade flattered on ground she clearly relished, and during a week in which we saw more than one freakishly good performance.
With Mehdaayih set to be supplemented and no bigger than 5/1, Manuela De Vega is seemingly more than a fraction over-priced, with Beckett confirming she's definitely an intended runner on May 31.
"I was really pleased with her. She was not ready to run if we had raced last week and has just come ready now. With the penalty we had to give away and the fact the winner got first run on us, she ran well, although I'm not trying to make excuses.We wanted that race to be a trial for the rest of the year and she will go to the Oaks now."
Ralph Beckett - 12/05/19
Pink Dogwood is the big Ballydoyle hope this year and got her prep run in nice and early when making a winning return over 10 furlongs in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.
The form has worked out with the third, Tawnawa, winning the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on Saturday and there’s a lot of like about the daughter of Camelot, other than her price (9/2 Sky Bet, 7/2 generally).
Anapurna did it easily at Lingfield over the weekend and looks a very strong second-string for Gosden but the class act could be William Haggas’ Maqsad.
She was beaten into third when odds-on favourite behind Mehdaayih at Yarmouth in October but does look a much stronger, more complete model this time around and she thrashed Shambolic when taking the step up to 10 furlongs in her stride in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket.
She’s out of a Galileo mare but Haggas and the team have some reservations over Maqsad staying the Oaks trip, and you’d have to have one or two doubts over her participation, especially if it came up soft at Epsom.
Haggas has some shuffling around to do with Lingfield absentee Frankellina now set for the Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday, while the beautifully-bred Sea Of Faith remains on the periphery of a potential Oaks bid after the layers ran for cover following her eyecatching debut fourth in a novice event at Sandown on April 26.
She’s 16/1 at best but time is ticking when it comes to getting another run in now and Royal Ascot may be a more realistic target for the Sea The Stars filly at this stage.
Posted at 1200 BST on 12/05/19
Matt Brocklebank's Antepost Angle
- 1pt e.w. Manuela De Vega at 33/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt e.w. Mount Everest at 25/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt e.w. Almania at 50/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt e.w. Skardu at 33/1 (1/5 1,2,3)
- 1pt win Fairyland at 12/1
- 0.5pts win Zagitova at 50/1
- 0.5pts win Secret Thoughts at 33/1