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Divinely - The Oaks contender

Epsom selections Friday 4th June

The Epsom Derby meeting is restored to its natural position of the first weekend in June for 2021 and the opening day sees both the Coronation Cup and Oaks as Group 1 highlights. I have a selection for the third Classic of the year, plus two others in the chief supporting handicaps.

IRISH ADMIRAL is likely to be a warm order in the 2.35, but there was no doubting he was a real eyecatcher on his British turf debut at York last month. Coming from well off the pace over 10f there, he made rapid headway into contention up the straight, but slightly paid for those exertions by tying up close home.

Nevertheless he did well to come from so far off the pace there, and back to the mile distance he is more used to competing at here, he can be ridden more forcefully. Owner Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum does not normally purchase horses already in training, but made an exception with this 4yo after two very promising runs for Johnny Feane in Ireland last season. A win on the All Weather at Wolverhampton in April gave a glimpse of his ability, but I think we will see more of him on turf this summer.

Blue Cup endured no luck in running here at the April meeting and looks set to go off favourite for the 3.45. However he does himself no favours by pulling so hard early on and there were no excuses for his defeat at York last time. A hood is fitted today in order to settle him, but he comes with risks and instead I favour DREAM WITH ME.

Mark Johnston’s 4yo has taken time to mature, but has really come of age this spring winning 3-4. Whilst he started off by winning over 12f at Wolverhampton, he has shot forward again since dropping back to 10f. He has proved more than quick enough to win twice around Ayr’s sharp track on fast ground and despite an 11lb rise for those victories, I think he has more to offer. His prominent racing style should lend itself well to Epsom, especially on fast ground.

I think there are doubts about the market leaders in the Oaks (4.30) and it has not been unusual for Aidan O’Brien to win an Epsom classic with a supposed outsider in recent seasons. In DIVINELY he has another who can surprise more lauded stablemates.

Divinely could only finish fourth in the Lingfield Oaks Trial last month, with the first three home all reopposing here. However O’Brien’s 3yo have tended to need their first run this season, and I am quietly confident she can turn the tables here. Strictly on form she has plenty to find as she was well beaten in the Moyglare at Group 1 level last season, and her biggest win was only a Group 3.

However her breeding could not be more strong as far as looking for an Oaks winner is concerned. She is a daughter of 2001 Derby winner Galileo (who has sired so many Epsom classic winners) and a daughter of Red Evie who produced her full sister Found. Found thrived once stepped up to 12f, winning a Breeders Cup Turf, an Arc and finishing second here in the Coronation Cup. Her running style suggests she will be finishing strongly and she rates strong each-way value. In Seamie Heffernan she has a pilot who has won both Epsom classics in the past.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Irish Admiral – 2.35 Epsom – 6/4 Paddy Power

1pt each-way – Dream With Me – 3.45 Epsom – 6/1 Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 4

1pt each-way – Divinely – 4.30 Epsom – 14/1 general – most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4

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