Simon Holt's Investec Oaks at Epsom betting preview

Rhododendron
Rhododendron

Racing commentator Simon Holt fancies Natavia to run a big race in the Investec Oaks at Epsom, where Rhododendron is the one to beat.

Recommended bets: Simon Holt


2pts win Rhododendron in 4.30 Epsom at best morning price

1pt e.w. Natavia in 4.30 Epsom at best morning price

2pts win Remarkable in 2.35 Epsom at best morning price

On the form book, Friday's Investec Oaks favourite RHODODENDRON has outstanding claims of maintaining trainer Aidan O'Brien's monopoly of this season's English and Irish Classics, though her likely odds will be unattractive to many punters.

The beautifully-bred daughter of Galileo, out of triple Group One winner Halfway To Heaven might have been a beaten favourite in the 1000 Guineas first time out but she met with trouble in-running at Newmarket and her stablemate and conqueror Winter has since trounced her rivals in the Irish version.

While maybe not an unlucky loser that day, Rhododendron confirmed she retains the ability which saw her win last season's Fillies Mile in impressive fashion, and there can be little doubt that she will appreciate a longer distance. It would be very surprising if she failed to stay a mile and a half.

On official ratings, Ryan Moore's mount has 3lb in hand over Sobetsu while the other runners all need to make considerable improvement.

Godolphin might make a late decision with regard to Sobetsu's participation if the ground dries up, though there is the possibility of some rain and the Epsom ground in June is normally very well presented and an excuse-free zone.

A hugely impressive winner of the Prix Saint-Alary at Deauville on soft going last month (Coronet a staying on third), this Dubawi filly is out of a Darshaan mare who won over a mile and three furlongs so she has a good chance of staying.

However, the French Oaks might have been a better option, and it would be a big ask to run in both.

While her form looks below the standard required, NATAVIA has put up taking efforts in both her starts so far.

A half-length defeat by Dancing Breeze at Newmarket first time out was let down by the winner subsequently, but Roger Charlton's charge scored comfortably at Newbury next time from the honest Flood Warning and she could have more improvement in her than most.

A half-sister to Sun Chariot (1m) winner Spinning Queen, the daughter of Nathaniel needs to prove her stamina but has a very likeable way of going and, given the likely short price of the favourite, she could be a decent each-way bet. Last year's Derby winning rider Pat Smullen takes the mount.

One filly who also looks bound to improve, especially now stepped up in trip to a stiff mile and a half, is Coronet who, while no match for Sobetsu in France, was doing her best work at the finish and is a half sister to the St Leger runner-up Midas Touch.

However, the daughter of Dubawi has been discarded by Frankie Dettori who has chosen to ride the comfortable Cheshire Oaks winner Enable.

Third behind another stablemate Shutter Speed (bound for the French Oaks) at Newbury first time out, Enable proved she has enough stamina at Chester though the O'Brien-trained runner-up Alluringly, who reopposes, gives Ballydoyle a good line on the form. Clearly, with Moore in the saddle, Rhododendron is their number one contender.

Horseplay and Isabel De Urbina, first and second in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Guineas meeting, both need to improve a good deal on that form while American raider Daddys Lil Darling is far from a certain stayer.

The Group One Investec Coronation Cup looks a real teaser with Aidan O'Brien fielding three runners, of which Highland Reel is the form pick on some fine performances in 2016 culminating in a second to Found in the Arc and then victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

However, the five-year-old proved disappointing when last of seven (Prize Money fourth) behind Jack Hobbs in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March and, again, is likely to improve through the season.

Stable companion US Army Ranger ran a blinder to chase home Harzand in the Derby here a year ago but proved a bit disappointing afterwards and, while he ran well when touched off by Western Hymn in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last month, that was at Group Three level.

Idaho, the third of the Ballydoyle trio and third in last year's Derby, makes his reappearance and shapes like a horse who will be better suited by further than a mile and a half. He could develop into a Cup horse.

Hawkbill's recent Newbury win also came at Group Three level and, arguably, he hasn't quite reproduced his Coral-Eclipse defeat of The Gurkha at Sandown last July when conditions were on the soft side. The ground could be important to him.

Meanwhile, a fascinating runner is John Gosden's mare Journey, who came good last autumn with a Group One success on Champions Day at Ascot but has been confined to racing against her own sex throughout her career so far.

Earlier, REMARKABLE is given another chance returned to a mile in the  .

Fifth in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last June and second in the Balmoral Handicap on the same course in the autumn, Dettori's mount seemed drawn away from the action on a return visit to Ascot last month when tenth behind Fastnet Tempest in the Victoria Cup (7f).

In the end, Remarkable was only beaten four lengths staying on at the finish and, a horse with the ability to make his mark in Listed or Group company, it will be disappointing if he cannot go close here albeit under top weight.

Posted at 1250 BST on 01/06/17.

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