Thursday, June 1, 2017

Investec Oaks - Rhododendron on the path of Minding

Football is almost winding down with only Saturday's UCL final left and which I shall get to later. The Classic generation takes center stage in the next few days with the running of the Oaks and Derby.

We have been starved of the superpower clashes between Godolphin and Ballydoyle in the last few years. The Irish connections have simply been overwhelming by far and their reliance on the best progeny from home stallion Galileo have made them rather peer-less. Godolphin have honourably countered with the sons and daughters of Dubawi and Shamardal, and this year are throwing in some decent high-class types to stem the Irish onslaught.

Friday's Oaks pits Galileo's Rhododendron against Dubawi's Sobetsu for middle-distance bragging rights among the fillies. Rhod goes into the race as deserved favourite and there are many things to like about Ballydoyle's number one hope. This will be her 7th race and is the most experienced of the field. She's never been out of the first 3. More importantly, her breeding suggests that the Epsom's stiff mile and a half won't be a problem for her. Encouragingly, she came out second in the Guineas, having met trouble in running. She might not have won against eventual double-Guineas winner Winter but she could hardly have shown better form going into this race. Rhod is the filly to beat and if she runs to her ability, she should win.

Sobetsu's participation in the Oaks owes to the rain. She loves easing conditions and her target was actually the Prix Diane but the recent rainfall have re-routed her to Epsom. Her last win in the Group One Saint-Alary was visually impressive. She is definitely top notch and the connections are high on her hopes of winning but I will give you 3 reasons why she won't. It is questionable whether she will handle a mile and a half. She was initially trained for the 2100 metres of the Prix Diane and might be found wanting with the extra 300 metres. Her optimum distance might actually be a mile and a quarter. Her stamina concerns are compounded by the fact that she will only be on 19 days rest since her last start. Lastly, although some might say that juvenile form does not count as much, she was well beaten in her encounter against Rhod in the Group One Dubai Fillies' Mile last year. Her only hope to come on top will be the softening conditions but Rhod and some others will not mind that as well.

Juddmonte is represented by 2 Nathaniel fillies in Natavia and Enable, the latter bagging the Chesire's Oaks in impressive fashion. She is proven at the distance, will be well rested and will have Frankie Dettori in the saddle. She looks to be the main danger to Rhod.

Win: Rhododendron
Place: Enable
Won't win (Lay): Sobetsu

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