In his latest antepost column on the big flat races of the summer, Will Hoffmann previews a tricky looking Coronation Cup...
"The one I came close to tipping was Coronet. She was sent off favourite in the race where Defoe/Communique filled the places but was far too keen to do herself justice. Prior to that, however, she’d been a model of consistency – perhaps too consistent – in placing behind some of the very best horses in the game.
The wrong favourite
This year's Coronation Cup, an Epsom staple, hinges on which Kew Gardens turns up to play. If it's the Kew Gardens who won the St Leger impressively then you have a competitive race, if it's the horse who made his reappearance at Chester then, well, that's a different story.
As a spectacle, the race is a bit of a disappointment this year. I know the organisers would have hoped that you'd have had at least one, maybe even two, of the middle-distance female power trio - Enable, Sea of Class, or Magical - showing up here and they've been disappointed on that front. From a betting perspective, however, that makes things slightly easier.
I have to be against Kew Garden having thought he looked a total shadow of himself at Chester. It's far from unusual, even for their stars, that Ballydoyle horses need their first run of the season but the market - an ever-reliable guide - gave no indication that was going to be the case at Chester.
Indeed, the way the race was run: Ballydoyle using a sacrificial second-string to ensure a strong gallop and Kew Garden receiving an efficient ride in-rear, suggested the expectation was a win. He could improve leaps and bounds for that run, and maybe he will, but I'd have expected him to be 2/1 on the back of winning impressively at Chester and that price feels a good deal too short given what we witnessed.
Running the rule over the field
One of the best ways of finding a bet is where you think the price of the favourite is wrong, so it'll disappoint you to learn I haven't actually been able to find an angle into this race. Lah Ti Dar is 3/1 and, whilst in many ways she deserves to be favourite, I couldn't bring myself to tip her under these conditions. She's a thoroughly likable horse, and I thought she showed an excellent attitude to win at York under inopportune circumstances, but I just can't convince myself she's an Epsom animal.
She's a big, slightly paceless, galloper who needs a strong pace and a long, flat home straight - something York provided, if at a distance too short - and the downhill, undulating finishing at Epsom is not going to suit her at all. I think she'll be at sea when push comes to shove and that Frankie will need all of his skill and guile to coax a win from her here.
Salouen is third-in, currently a 6/1 shot, on the back of an easy Listed win at Ascot earlier in the month. He made all that day, setting steady fractions and never coming back to the field. That performance alone isn't enough to make him a 6/1 shot, even in this field, and it was notably only average on the clock.
He does have form, most notably when nearly lowering Cracksman's colours in this race a year ago, that makes him of interest however, as well as a slightly surprise sixth in the Arc where he didn't get a clear run. His price has contracted quite notably in the last couple of weeks, and I think 6/1 is about right now, particularly as Ballydoyle look certain to employ a pacemaker to ensure he doesn't enjoy a similar trip on the front-end to last year.
Defoe and Communique share a form line having been first and second at Newmarket at the beginning of the month and they are a very similar price. As well as having a bit to find on form, they each have their own foibles in relation to this race. Communique is likely to find himself as a part of a pace burn-up on the front-end whilst Defoe, in a not dissimilar fashion to Lah Ti Dar, is a big galloping type who won't be suited by a downhill finish and undulations.
Morando is of some interest having lowered Kew Garden's colours at Chester, but I have a strong suspicion that he needs some juice in the ground to be seen to best effect and that's not looking likely at this stage.
Close, but no cigar
The one I came close to tipping was Coronet. She was sent off favourite in the race where Defoe/Communique filled the places but was far too keen to do herself justice. Prior to that, however, she'd been a model of consistency - perhaps too consistent - in placing behind some of the very best horses in the game.
She has a high cruising speed, and actually gives quite generously for pressure, but she lacks a change of gear at the death and, for all she's genuine off the bridle, you get the impression she's ultimately a pack-animal rather than one who likes to get her head in front and lead. I thought the likely strong pace, which will help her settle and place less emphasis on quickening, as well as the quirky track could help her find a winning groove although the latter point is slightly tenuous (she was previously a disappointing fifth here in the Oaks).
I think she's got all the ability in the world but I didn't think the 10/1 on the Sportsbook was sufficiently big enough to merit a bet; she'll almost certainly be that or bigger on the day. 26.0 was available on the exchange, but only for a few quid, and it felt crass tipping a horse at that price that isn't really available bar for a pony in an illiquid market.
If you can get double-figures about her on the day, back her. That's probably the best advice I can offer at this point.