Friday Racing Tips: Enable can give Rhododendron a run for her money in the Oaks

Tony has picked out three horses worth backing from Friday's racing at Epsom
Tony has picked out three horses worth backing from Friday's racing at Epsom
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It's Epsom weekend and Betfair racing tipster Tony Calvin is here with tips on Friday's action, where he is looking to oppose the favourite in the Oaks...

"The Coronation Cup at 15:10 looks a tricky one, though obviously it is no big surprise to see Highland Reel head the betting. But odds around 7/4 look a bit skinny to me."

Enable the best bet in The Oaks

Rhododendron's price in the Oaks has been going one way for a while now - she is currently trading at around the 10/11 mark at the time of writing - and it is very easy to see her winning, and winning well.

She undoubtedly has the best form coming into the race, the best speed figures, and her pedigree gives you every hope that, not only will she stay the 1m4f, she will improve for the extra half-mile.

I doubt whether she would have beaten Winter granted a clear run in the 1,000 Guineas last time - we saw what an impressive tool the winner was again at the Curragh on Sunday - but it would have been a lot closer, clearly. And, being by Galileo out of a Nassau Stakes winner, I can't see the trip being an issue, at all.

But, then again, plenty have thought that about Guineas horses in the past and, with opposition fillies also stepping up markedly in trip for the first time, the Oaks has thrown up more than its fair share of shocks in recent years.

I was hoping that French Guineas fifth Rain Goddess would be allowed to take her chance in the Classic at 16:30, as she had a similar profile to the stable's 2012 winner Was, but, alas, no entry.

So where is the bet in the race now?

To be perfectly honest, I am struggling, but if Betfair Sportsbook are still going 6/1 about Enable when you read this - and that is the top price in the marketplace - then I think that is the best bet, to small stakes.

Clearly, any number of these fillies have the ability to step up a good deal now they tackle 1m4f for the first time - and Sobetsu is also a Group 1 winner, remember - but Enable potentially looked a filly out of the top drawer when beating Alluringly 1¾ lengths in the Cheshire Oaks, when the pair pulled nine lengths clear of the third.

The extra furlong or so should be neither here nor there - her pedigree has plenty of 1m4f winners in it - and the O'Brien camp fancied the runner-up at Chester, so I wouldn't be in a rush to underestimate the form. I suspect the favourite may be in a different league, but Enable is my idea of the second best filly in the race.


The Woodcote Stakes at 14:00 is not usually my cup of tea, but you can see why horses from the Hannon yard are of particular interest given his record in the race.

The stable has won this race in three of the last four years, and they only lost out to the subsequent Coventry winner Buratino in 2015.

So there is no surprise to see De Bruyne Horse high up in the betting given he was very impressive when making all on the rail to win by seven lengths over 6f at Ripon last time, smashing the horse who won the maiden that he debuted in at Newmarket a fortnight previously.

He didn't look entirely happy at HQ, so this track may present problems for him, but his potential and potency was there for all to see at Ripon.

However, the fact that he was only put back in the race after it was re-opened at 10am on Wednesday morning means that connections may possibly have track concerns, too.

He could easily be good enough to see off the likes of Cardsharp and Zap in what looks a sub-standard renewal - though Cardsharp, a good fourth under a 6lb penalty at Ascot, would get my vote - but it doesn't look a betting race to me.

Thoughts haven't changed on the Investec Mile

I made my thoughts on the Investec Mile at 14:35 clear in Monday's ante-post piece on the race, and nothing has changed.

The one thing that really struck me about Cricklewood Green's chance in the handicap was Sylvester Kirk's stunning Epsom record. The more you read about it, the more impressive it gets.

For a small stable like Kirk's to have over half of his runners finish in the first three at the track in the last five years - and nearly 80% if you extend that to four places - is little short of sensational. Of course, a sample of 30 runners may not be the biggest, but it is convincing enough to me.

The one big negative is that Cricklewood Green does indeed run from 4lb out of the handicap - and he is also set to go down 3lb in the weights after this race, too, so he is effectively 7lb wrong - but I am very happy with the ante-post advice at the prices.

The value has probably long gone now, though, and GK Chesterton looks a very worthy favourite, and Remarkable deserves his high spot in the betting, too.

GK Chesterton has gone up a very fair 5lb for his convincing Newmarket win, and the first-time cheekpieces is a fascinating angle for him.

It is also a very positive one, too, as his trainer Charlie Appleby is four from seven in 2017 when initially reaching for that headgear. The winners were not unexpected it seems, and came at odds of 6/4, 11/4, 14/5 and 6/4.

G K Chesterton must go well, but his price of around 11/4 tells you that and more. I'll just stick with the ante-post play, though Spring Offensive could go better than his double-digit odds suggest.

Coronation Cup a tough one to call, Highland Reel is too short

The Coronation Cup at 15:10 looks a tricky one, though obviously it is no big surprise to see Highland Reel head the betting. But odds around 7/4 look a bit skinny to me.

The faster the ground the better, and the easier the lead the better, for him, as he showed when making all to win the King George and the Breeders' Cup Turf last season.

He is the form choice on those efforts, and you can forgive him his below-par run in Dubai in March on account of the rain-softened ground, but dominating could be difficult in this unusually big field and he doesn't have that much in hand of Journey on official marks, and of course the mare gets 3lb.

There is little doubt she is a big threat on the form of her Ascot defeat of Opera winner Speedy Boarding in a good time back in October, with two more Group 1 winners Queen's Trust and Seventh Heaven behind in third and fifth, but her reappearance record concerns me.

She was beaten on her debut, and first time out in 2015 and 2016, which is a concern in the context of taking in a Group 1 here, albeit a very winnable one.

There could be a shock though, and I think US Army Ranger may provide it, and he looks worth a nibble at [15.0] or bigger.

He has clearly not kicked on from his second to Harzand here last season but he could be coming to hand again now on the evidence of his narrow second to Western Hymn in the Ormonde last time.

He looked to be running on fumes close home there, so the step back to 1m4f looks sure to suit, and is interesting that his trainer runs him here in addition to Highland Reel and Idaho.

And, looking back, his second to Zhukova, a six-length winner of the Man O'War at Belmont recently, over 1m4f at Leopardstown last September doesn't look too bad now, either. I can see Donnacha O'Brien producing him late, and hopefully going one better than he did here in the Derby last June.

The 1m2f handicap at 15:45 looks very tricky and Examiner, Innocent Touch and Brorocco are my three against the field. But, as you have probably guessed, I haven't got too strong an opinion so that I am parting with cash.

The last two races on the card are the domain of Racing UK but we will take a look anyway, though the 7f Listed race at 17:15 looks a close, trappy race and is easily passed over.

The concluding 7f handicap at 17:50 is not much easier to solve but I quite like the look of Juanito Chico, even though he races off a 2lb higher mark than when third in a bunch finish over 1m at Ascot last time.

He was disadvantaged by racing widest that day, towards the centre of the track, and can be rated an unlucky loser. He quickened to win the contest 1f out, but then had nothing to race against.

And on his only start here to date, over course and distance in September, he was only just touched off by a horse completing his hat-trick.

He can run around a bit and is not yet the finished article, but I think the talent is there for him to be winning off this mark, and the step back down to 7f could be a plus, too. Back him at [6.0] or bigger.

Recommended Bets

Back US Army Ranger at [15.0] or bigger in 15:10 at Epsom
Back Enable each way at 6/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook in Oaks at 16:30 at Epsom
Back Juanito Chico at [6.0] or bigger in 17:50 at Epsom


Back Cricklewood Green at [34.0] or bigger in 14:35 at Epsom on Friday and/or 25/1 each way ¼ 1,2,3,4 with Betfair Sportsbook

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