Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet selections for Investec Oaks day at Epsom and he has two bets away from the fillies' Classic.
Recommended Bets: Value Bet, Oaks day
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
The longer I look at the Investec Oaks the less I want to have a bet with the race decimated with significant absentees in recent weeks.
Lah Ti Dar, Magical and Sea Of Class have all ended up missing the Epsom Classic and we’re left with a clear favourite in Wild Illusion, a filly that has a standout chance on the formbook.
Her Group One win at Chantilly in the Prix Marcel Boussac last October is the best form in this race by a long way and that it came on soft ground is an added bonus considering the rain they’ve had at Epsom this week.
On top of that her Guineas fourth is the best form from this season on show, as well, and she’s bred for a trip being out of winning two-miler Rumh, a daughter of Monsun.
At 5/2 she looks a perfectly fair price, although enthusiasm for a bet is tempered by the fact Aidan O’Brien trains the next three in the market; Magic Wand, Forever Together and Bye Bye Baby, the trio available from 9/2 to 6/1.
Any one of them could improve and win this, but picking the right one isn’t easy and I don’t really want to take on Wild Illusion anyway, despite being certain I would for the last week or so.
Indeed, there look to be very few bets on the card. I’m looking forward to seeing Cracksman in the Investec Coronation Cup and Ajman King looks very solid in the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap, too, his 5lb rise for a win over the course and distance last time looking pretty lenient, but neither appeal at skinny odds.
I don’t want to take either of those two on, though, so the best race for a bet is the Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap at 2.35, as there are a couple of infrequent winners fighting it out at the top of the market.
To be fair, both Donncha and Masham Star are both very well handicapped on their best form and either could win this easily, but they have won just six races from 60 between them on turf and with a strike-rate like that I wouldn’t fancy dutching the pair at 6/4.
Medburn Dream won well on his first start since being gelded at Windsor last time, but he’s up 6lb for that and his improvement has come on a better surface, while a potential battle for the lead with Masham Star might also be a negative for him.
King’s Pavilion has won at Epsom and goes well with cut in the ground but he’s shortened up to a general 6/1, so the one that looks underestimated by the market is outsider of the field BRILLIANT VANGUARD at 16/1 (Coral, Bet Victor).
Kevin Ryan’s horse rattled in a hat-trick last season and his wins were typified by one burst of speed that put the race to bed, something he hasn’t been able to unleash in three starts this season.
That’s because he’s run in the Spring Mile at Doncaster, a big-field handicap at the Craven meeting and the Victoria Cup at Ascot, and he’s shown gradual improvement each time.
His best run of the season was indeed his last one, at Ascot, where he was only beaten five lengths in 13th (of 27) after travelling well throughout. Though they were split by the width of the track, there was only half a length between himself and Masham Star, as well, and they race off the same terms on Friday.
From a fitness point of view he should be spot on, then, and from a handicapping point of view he should also be competitive. Now down to 88, his hat-trick last year came off ratings of 78, 84 and 89.
The ground is a largely unknown variable. He won his maiden at Pontefract on soft but he’s mainly been kept away from it since. However, Fast Company progeny are 33/252 at 13 per cent on soft, a better strike-rate than I thought it might be. It’s worth a roll of the dice.
His part owner Jimmy Chung Ghee Chua loves runners at Epsom and he also runs Mythical Madness in his solo colours, but while that horse has lost his way a bit and would be less likely to go on this ground, Brilliant Vanguard might well be fine on it and looks to be returning to peak form.
Chasing a strong gallop in this smaller field could be right up his street. At 16/1, it’s worth a bet Shane Gray can deliver his challenge to perfection with that one withering run that landed him three in a row last season.
Earlier on the Investec Woodcote EBF Stakes opens the meeting and this is a race Mick Channon targets having won it three times in the past.
This year he saddles two but the one I like at the prices is COTUBANAMA at 9/1 (General).
Her Salisbury win and Marygate sixth are arguably the best pieces of form in this race and the former was achieved in heavy ground so she should be absolutely fine in the conditions.
All of her performances have suggested the step up to six furlongs would bring about further improvement and with three runs under her belt nothing in the line-up has more experience.
She can use that and her five-furlong speed to get a good position as they make their way to the home straight and I’m struggling to fathom why she’s seventh-best in the market.
Posted at 1700 BST on 31/05/18.
Ben Linfoot's Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK. Running total: +348.14pts to advised stakes/prices (from inception of Value Bet column in January 2010 to current).