Princess Highway just favoured in Oaks battle with Great Heavens

WHEN John Gosden supplemented impressive Lancashire Oaks winner, Great Heavens, for Sunday’s Irish version (3.20pm) earlier this week, I was certain I’d be backing her with the testing conditions sure to play to her strengths. However, it’s all about the price in this game; I was expecting her to be around the 3/1 second favourite and the market has forced me to change my mind.

Dermot Weld has a powerful string of fillies this year and PRINCESS HIGHWAY demolished a strong field in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. I honestly thought she’d be around 5/4, but she’s a 9/4 shot with William Hill and that simply has to be taken. The main worry is the ground, as she isn’t proven in very soft conditions, but it was good-to-soft at Ascot and class often comes to the fore in these races.

I have the utmost respect for Great Heavens and the going holds absolutely no fears for this daughter of Galileo. That said, soft ground Haydock form doesn’t always stand up and, similarly to her brother Nathaniel, she had a very hard race just a fortnight ago. I don’t think there will be much between the market principals, but I’m happy to oppose Aidan O’Brien’s Investec Oaks winner, Was, at 10/3 with Coral. Although she did well to win at Epsom, she was quite lucky that day and is surely better on decent ground.

Looking at today’s action and there are a couple of horses from the all-conquering Gosden stable that are worth following. Firstly, FLUCTUATE, tipped up in this column last week, takes his place in Ascot’s Delancey Handicap at 5.05pm, having been wisely pulled out at Newmarket on Saturday due to the swamp-like conditions. The Exchange Rate-colt is entered in the Group Two Celebration Mile next month and he’ll have to be winning a race like this well if he’s to take his chance at Goodwood.

William Buick will be on board Fluctuate at Ascot, but he’ll be disappointed to miss out on the debut of VANITY RULES in the fillies’ maiden at Newmarket (6.10pm). Gosden has already unleashed a potential 1,000 Guineas filly in Newfangled this season and Vanity Rules is reportedly one of the best juveniles in the yard. Stablemate Ghurair did this column a favour at Newmarket last Friday on his debut and this daughter of New Approach is expected to break her maiden tag at the first attempt.