Epsom Oaks Betting: What's behind the Bye Bye Baby hype?

Epsom racecourse in Surrey
Epsom racecourse (above) is where the Oaks will be run on Friday 1 June
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The odds on Bye Bye Baby in Friday's Oaks at Epsom have been cut and Tony Calvin can see why. Our man discusses her form and background to explain why he thinks she's a potential Classic winner...

"I can very much see the case for Bye Bye Baby winning the Oaks, and it wouldn't surprise me if she dipped into single-figures on the exchange soon, too."

There has been an industry-wide move for Bye Bye Baby in the Oaks in recent days - certainly not anything massive, but a steady trickle of money, it seems - so I thought I better see what the fuss was all about.

On a wider point, it now appears possible that we will be looking at soft ground on Friday if the forecast proves correct - it is due to be wet all week, with one website currently predicting 17mm of rain on Thursday alone - so make sure you factor that into any ante-post thoughts for Epsom punting.

Or not, if you don't believe a word they say.

Anyway, back to Bye Bye Baby, and what makes this minor move particularly significant, perhaps.

Why have the odds on Bye Bye Baby been cut?

I don't care what anyone tells me, or what I read, but at this stage of proceedings, betting firms' willingness to cut horses' odds in ante-post markets is basically down to them tracking the exchange price - rather than weight of money taken - and moving prices accordingly.

Or maybe an influential paper or website journalist sticking one up could see their odds contract, too.

So I was interested to see the last bit of 10/1 about Bye Bye Baby in the fixed-odds marketplace disappear at around 11am on Tuesday - the firm in question cut her from 10s to 9s to 8s in two moves - when the filly was trading at [12.5] on the exchange.

So this could be a fixed-odds move being triggered by actual cash, and certainly not arbing money (if these people exist, to any significant degree, anymore in horse racing).

And, looking in depth at the horse's claims this morning - and, indeed, the race in general - then I can very much see the case for her.

Bye Bye Baby will enjoy soft ground

First off, it looks a very winnable race (as [5.1] the field on the exchange underlines) and it could well be that Aidan O'Brien runs all of his fillies in the race - he has eight of the 13 entries - and soft ground will be no barrier to success to Bye Bye Baby.

She handled decent ground when beating 1,000 Guineas fifth Altyn Orda over 7f at Newmarket last season but her best efforts have come with a lot of dig in the ground, most notably when winning the Blue Wind Stakes over 1m2f in officially soft to heavy ground at the Curragh last time.

That was a massive step forward from her poor reappearance run at Navan, and you had to be very impressed by the manner in which she dismissed the once-raced winner and even-money favourite Jaega there.

It was not so much the merit of the form - though, with the 107-rated Clear Skies beaten two lengths and a neck into third, it was a very smart effort - it was way she finished her race off.

Indeed, she took a while to pull up for Seamie Heffernan, and her pedigree gives you every encouragement that she will improve again for the step up to 1m4f for the first time.

She is by a certain Galileo out of a mare who finished third (promoted to second) to Snow Fairy in the 2010 Oaks, and the dam was also a half-sister to Arc winner Dylan Thomas, beaten a short head and a head in Sir Percy's Derby.

Yes, I can very much see the case for her, and it wouldn't surprise me if she dipped into single-figures on the exchange soon, too.

Why I won't back her just yet...

It is hard to articulate but go and have a look at the videos of her Newmarket and Curragh wins, in particular. And her Navan victory last season wasn't too shoddy, either. When she is on song, she seems to have an exuberance and willingness about her, allied to her obvious ability, that mark her down as a potential Classic winner.

It sounds a bit twee and pretentious, but there you go, although there is the slight worry that she may need to dominate to be seen to best effect (though with seven stablemates in the race that may not be a concern at all).

I'll be looking at her very closely on Thursday when we know the final declarations and more about the weather. Her price will have probably contracted even further by then, but I am happy to wait.

Well, not happy, but I will.

See you on Thursday.

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