Frankie can provide a fitting Oaks finale

Frankie Dettori does his famous leap off his horse after winning at Epsom Racecourse

Epsom selections Friday 2nd June

As we all know Frankie Dettori is in his final season as a jockey and has already snared the 2000 Guineas as part of his farewell tour. Already the winner of six Oaks, he has a huge chance to add number seven today. The Oaks is one of three races I am concentrating on at Epsom today. Mondammej was placed for the each-way bet in the previous column on Saturday (SP 13/2).

Epsom 2.35: Austrian Theory & Dutch Decoy

Trainer Charlie Johnston saddles two in this competitive mile handicap and both hold strong claims.

First choice would be AUSTRIAN THEORY who is a decent front-runner on his day. A thumb through the formbook does show on a bad day he is very ordinary, but his run at Chester last Saturday was certainly a good day. Saddled with a wide draw, he did well to get to the front, as is his custom, and he battled on bravely, ultimately coming home third.

Able to race off the same mark of 91 today, he is 3lbs lower than his last victory, gained in a decent pot at Hamilton last summer. There does not seem to be too many opponents likely to hassle him from the front, so expect evergreen pilot Joe Fanning to get the fractions right in front and make him hard to pass.

Should there be an unexpectedly hard battle for the lead, that would enhance the chances of DUTCH DECOY, a rare horse for the yard that likes to come from off the pace. This gelding seemed something of an All Weather specialist until suddenly winning four times on fast ground last summer.

The last of those came in August at Newmarket where he produced his customary late burst to get up on the line. Considering all four of his runs this season have been on unfavoured softer going, he has performed more than adequately, including a fifth in a Heritage handicap at Newmarket and then fourth in a Skybet series race at Hamilton. I would expect him to improve for some faster going today and a strong pace will bring his proven stamina more into play.

Epsom 3.45: Masekela & Dual Identity

A classy handicap, but one where not too many of these come into it in great form.

MASEKELA did really well to finish fourth in the Derby here last season, but has not really come anywhere near that level of form since. He is his own worst enemy as he tends to pull very hard, but did win a listed race as a juvenile from the front and perhaps Oisin Murphy will allow him his head in the early stages, particularly with a low draw in his favour.

He is now dangerously well handicapped off 99 and whilst he does have to leave two well below par runs behind him in 2023, I think there is still plenty of ability in the locker if he allows himself to settle down early on. Perhaps a return to this idiosyncratic track he performed at so well twelve months ago will spark a revival.

DUAL IDENTITY looks a horse for who bigger fields and stronger gallops are necessary. His best effort was probably when third in the Cambridgeshire coming from the unfavoured far side on the day. He is only a pound higher today, and there have been excuses for his two runs this term.

The ground was softer than ideal for his comeback at Newmarket whilst a small field and steady gallop played against him there last time. He is better judged on his wide margin win at Sandown last summer, and then second place in a much better race on his next outing. Hopefully he will get a strong enough pace to run at once the finishing hill kicks in.

Epsom 4.30: Soul Sister

This does not look the strongest of Oaks and much will depend on whether Savethelastdance can be as good as she appeared at Chester on far quicker ground today. She was struggling in the early stages that day before comfortably outlasting inferior opponents late on. Any early lack of pace will be more ruthlessly dealt with today.

The two who look most likely to take advantage are the Gosden trained pair. However I have nagging doubts about the trip for Running Lion, especially given the O’Brien team are likely to ensure this is a strongly run 12f contest. Therefore SOUL SISTER looks the most likely to take advantage.

A gutsy winner of her only start of 2022 at Doncaster in the autumn, she showed her comeback run on very soft ground at Newbury to be all wrong, once stepped up in trip for the Musidora at York. She bounced off the fast ground that day, conditions she will encounter once more here. She looks a well balanced individual so this different sort of track should be no problem.

She is a full sister to a horse called Herman Hesse who won two handicaps over 14f in 2020 and her dam Dream Peace was a very solid group winning middle distance performer, so I am confident the trip will be no problem. Hopefully an inspired Dettori will give her that extra edge today.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Austrian Theory – 2.35 Epsom – 6/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Dutch Decoy – 2.35 Epsom – 6/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)

0.5pts each-way – Masekela- 3.45 Epsom – 17/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt each-way – Dual Identity – 3.45 Epsom – 10/1 Bet365, William Hill, Betfred (1/5 odds 1st 4)

1pt win – Soul Sister – 4.30 Epsom – 100/30 general


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