Epsom Derby Festival betting tips: Rhododendron can score Oaks hat-trick for her genius trainer

Bill Esdaile
Follow Bill
Goodwood Races
RHODODENDRON looks impossible to oppose in this afternoon’s Investec Oaks (4.30pm). (Source: Getty)

SOME might call it greedy, but Aidan O’Brien has already plundered the first four British and Irish Classics of the 2017 Flat season and he is clearly hungry for more.

Ladbrokes are offering just 6/1 that he wins all five British Classics, while it’s 16/1 for him to land all 10 on both sides of the Irish Sea.

It is a tour de force of epic proportions and RHODODENDRON looks impossible to oppose in this afternoon’s Investec Oaks (4.30pm).

She was backed as if defeat was out of the question in last month’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas, yet she suffered a troubled passage and couldn’t reel in stablemate Winter.

Ryan Moore has said he would love to have another go at that race, but he has the perfect chance to make amends at Epsom this afternoon.

Winter was a hugely impressive winner of Sunday’s Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh, giving the form a very solid look to it.

Rhododendron ran away with the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last October and everything about her running style suggests she will thrive over further than a mile.

Although there have been some shocks in this race over the past decade, her form is stronger than anything else and she has to be backed at 10/11 with Ladbrokes.

O’Brien is going for an Oaks hat-trick following Minding 12 month ago and Qualify in 2015. He also saddles Alluringly and Pocketfullofdreams, but they just don’t look in the same league.

The filly I think can chase her home is Andrew Balding’s HORSEPLAY, who won the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket last month.

That race has been an excellent pointer in recent years with both Taghrooda and Talent using it as a stepping stone to Oaks success.

Balding won the Oaks back in 2003 with Casual Look in his very first season as a trainer and he will be hopeful this daughter of Cape Cross can give him another one.

She bolted up on her second start at Nottingham last season and then showed real guts at Newmarket.

The trip won’t be a problem and she seemed to handle the track pretty well at the Breakfast with the Starts event last week.

She might not quite have the same class as the favourite, but she looks a very decent each-way bet at 14/1 with Coral.

My final selection in the one-two-three is John Gosden’s ENABLE, a decent winner of last month’s Cheshire Oaks.

No match for stablemate Shutter Speed, who heads to France for the Prix de Diane next, over 10 furlongs at Newbury in April, she relished the extra distance at Chester.

That performance entitled her to come to this and she looks hard to keep out of the frame.

Her odds have drifted slightly in recent days and she looks fair value at around the 6/1 mark.

This is a decent renewal of the Oaks and there are plenty of others with chances.

If you are looking for one at a huge price, Ralph Beckett’s Isabel De Urbina could be the one to sneak into a place.

Stamina is a worry on pedigree but she wasn’t far behind Horseplay in the Pretty Polly and her trainer has an excellent record in this race.

Today’s action is very competitive, as you’d expect, but I do like the look of SPRING OFFENSIVE in the Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap (2.35pm).

Richard Fahey’s inmate got no run whatsoever in this contest 12 months ago and he can go close off a similar mark today at 10/1.

He has run well on both starts this season and may just be ready to win a race like this.

G K Chesterton is respected, but he’s been well found in the market and has gone up for winning at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago.

My final selection is JUANITO CHICO in the closing Investec Foreign Exchange Handicap (5.50pm).

He ran really well two starts back at Sandown and then was slightly unlucky the way the race turned out at Ascot in a mile handicap.

He looked the winner that day but had nothing to give him a lead for long enough and was worn down late on.

Silvestre de Sousa takes the ride and he should go close from a good draw in stall four.


Spring Offensive e/w 2.35pm Epsom

Rhododendron 4.30pm Epsom

Juanito Chico e/w 5.50pm Epsom

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.