Friday Racing Tips: Tony Calvin's picks on Oaks day at Epsom

Tony has four fancies on Oaks day at Epsom
Tony has four fancies on Oaks day at Epsom

Racing expert Tony Calvin previews Oaks day at Epsom and selects two more recommended bets to accompany his existing selections...

"After a lot of deliberation, I decided Master Of Finance is the best option at 9.08/1 or bigger. Now, you wouldn’t get many more inconsistent horses and he is infuriating, but he appears – yes, appears is a very costly word in betting – to have a lot going for him."

If you can't be good, be lucky, and we have certainly fluked a fair trading position at the very least in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Looking at the race at the start of last week we pinpointed Skiffle and Harlequeen at 95.094/1 and 34.033/1 respectively - read the column here - and it took less than 24 hours for the former to plummet in price after she was pinpointed as a "definite possibility" to be supplemented for the race by John Ferguson at Breakfast With The Stars.

Good to know you read the column, John...

The fact that she now trades as 6.611/2 second-favourite for the race is more than surprising though, as she does have a mountain to climb on form with Minding.

Don't get me wrong, she fully deserves her presence in the field after a good win over 1m2f at Goodwood on only her second start, as she is an unexposed filly who looks sure to appreciate the extra two furlongs, and that is not something that can be said about many in this line-up.

But no way would I touch her at the current odds. I think Harlequeen's price of 28.027/1 is much more attractive, and if she does settle and handle the track - those are the obvious, and considerable, questions she has to answer - then we could be in business there.

This race has a strange shape to it, as the favourite is clearly opposable on many grounds and I am sure many see the contest as a great each-way proposition as a result.

Firstly, Minding had a very hard race at the Curragh when banging her head coming out of the stalls and then locking horns with mud-lover Jet Setting - connections thought the filly would win easily, not be beaten a head after a hard race, and this is just 12 days later on a track that has taken a lot of rain this week - and then we come to the issue of whether she will stay this extra 4f on a stiff course.

Far too many people are blasé about horses staying longer trips - go and walk a racecourse and appreciate how far one furlong is, let alone four - and there is little doubt in my mind that the favourite is very vulnerable over middle distances. Her pedigree tells you that, and possibly her run-style, too.

The problem potential layers of her at 2.1211/10 have, though, is that is she is the best filly in this race by a street and staying is a relative concept. And each-way players, to be truthful, don't really have a solid proposition against her.

Usain Bolt may not stay beyond 200m but I'd still fancy him to shade me over 1m4f around Epsom Downs.

With an official rating of 119, Minding is 9lb clear of Turret Rocks, who is solid in many respects but would prefer faster ground, and then we have to lower our sights to 103 (Skiffle) and 102 (Harlequeen) before we quickly run out of fillies with three-figure marks.

In short, Minding will have to seriously not stay to get beaten here.

It is entirely possible, of course, maybe even likely - the history of this race is littered with big-priced winners improving for the step up in trip, not least last year's 50-1 winner Qualify - and certainly Ralph Beckett's Diamonds Pour Moi has a similar profile to his recent winners, Talent and Look Here. She could be interesting at 25.024/1.

In summary, I am obviously happy with my ante-post positions but am in no rush to go in again. It's a very confusing race to be honest, not least to Ballydoyle who last week seemingly ruled Somehow and Seventh Heaven out of the race and their Pretty Polly third Even Song in...


Tibr could be value in the opener


I'll attack the rest of the card in chronological order, but regular readers will know that playing in 2yo races is not really my cup of tea.

Given how the form of his Lingfield win over 5f has worked out, and what a good time he clocked there, I am surprised that Tibr is around a 3-1 chance for the 14:00. His stable is having a brilliant season, and this colt is bred to get all of this 6f and more.

But, even though this race cut up a fair bit at the five-say stage, there are clearly a few in the race with similarly unexposed profiles, so I can't play in what is effectively a guessing game.


Back Master to give our Finances a boost


I am very worried by Felix de Vega in the 14:35, as the return to a softer surface could see him reverse Chester form with the progressive Dark Red.

But, after a lot of deliberation, I decided Master Of Finance is the best option at 8.07/1 or bigger.

Now, you wouldn't get many more inconsistent horses and he is infuriating, but he appears - yes, appears is a very costly word in betting - to have a lot going for him.

He returned to form with the blinkers re-fitted when second to stablemate Revolutionist at Newmarket last time, and the winner followed up at Redcar this week. So off just a 1lb higher mark, the selection appears well-handicapped.

He is also just 1lb higher then when a good third in this race last year and, as a horse who is effective on heavy and fast ground, we don't have to worry about the weather for him.

The outside draw in 10 is possibly not ideal for a horse who likes to sit handy, but it isn't as if this is a big field and I'm sure SDS can sort it for us.


Arod could be the Diomed bet but check going first


I think Arod is actually a fair price at around the 3-1 mark in the Diomed Stakes at 15:10.

He is the best horse in the race, gets weight from his main form rivals, won this race last year and should come on for a fair, if not A1, return at Newmarket.

The reason you are getting that price - and on good ground he would be nearer 6-4 - are the current soft conditions, and what looks like a continued, unsettled forecast.

It looks a race to sit out until nearer the time but it wouldn't be a total surprise if 8yo Tullius had one last hurrah in a first-time visor.

Quite what Oracolo is doing in this race though, when connections had the option of the 1m and 1m2f handicaps on the card, is mystifying - I would have tipped him for either of those after what they call an 'eye-catching' run from 3lb out the handicap in the Hambleton at York last time.


Melvin could be a Grate bet


I am quite sweet on the chances of Melvin The Grate at 9.08/1 or better in the Investec Mile at 15:45.

You have to rely on the fact that connections have him fit and primed here as he hasn't raced since January - though the fact that the horse is half-owned by the trainer's father Ian Balding would presumably have concentrated the mind on such a big day - but he does have some good form after lay-offs.

He won first time out in 2013 and one of his better efforts came when he was just touched off in a Windsor soft-ground handicap in 2014 after a four-month break.

He has winning form over 1m in the soft, too, finished second on his only start here, and has slipped to a 2lb lower mark than when just touched off in a good 0-105 handicap at Ayr in September. He is a big player here.

Haalick clearly has a lot going for him in the 17:15, and Harry Champion, on his first start since being gelded, looks interesting with 5lb claimer Josephine Gordon on in the 17:50, but no bets for me in the RUK races.

Here is hoping that I am googling Lonnie Donegan on YouTube after the Oaks...

Recommended Bets
Back Master Of Finance at 8.07/1 or bigger in the 14:35 at Epsom
Back Melvin the Grate at 9.08/1 in the 15:45 at Epsom

Already advised:
Back Skiffle at 95.094/1 in Oaks

Back Harlequeen at 34.033/1 in Oaks

You can read my full Epsom Derby 2016 Tips in a special column behind the link.

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