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Epsom Oaks & Epsom Derby 2014 Preview

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I posted an article last year using historical speed ratings for the Derby and excluding Dawn Approach‘s blow up the first four home were the next best 4 rated but unfortunately not in the right order. Although it could be argued that we correctly hinted at Dawn Approach having a negative above his head from making his debut over less than 7 furlongs.

I’d like to combine the article for both Colts & Fillies this year as I’ve done a in depth draw analysis for the track and hopefully that might shed some light on where to be looking come Friday & Saturday.

 

The Draw – Oaks & Derby

The loping left hander culminating in to Tattenham Corner means that to get a solid idea of the draw bias we’ve really got the be looking at races from 1m+ at this track. My main concern despite the 600+ races from this sample was the range of field size with upwards of 20 runners regularly taking part in handicaps at Epsom, so I had to do some conversions to standardise the data.

I know that simply identifying certain stalls can lead to anomalies in the data so rather than typically say ‘lower stalls’ or middle 4 stalls, what I settled on was the Stall% which was taken simply diving the the stall number by the number of runners.

As you can see from the images below, we can see acertain whether there is a true bias from say having more or less horses on one side or the other.

The first image has plotted the Win% against the Stall% and indicates a distinct bias away from the immediately low stalls but from there only a slight advantage towards the outer half of the draw.

 

The second image shows the Level Stakes Profit against the Stall% and whilst following a similar trajectory to the above image this bias seems slightly more pronounced in favour of the highest 60% to 90% stalls which show the least level stakes profit.

 

Both of this year’s races have an intented 17 runners at the moment so typically Id’ be recommending anything from stalls 9 to stall 15 on the basis of the above. With the last three winners of this race going off at 20/1 there could be some very nice value in these stalls as it stands or alternatively given the draw and available odds, you could dutch these seven stalls for around a 120% profit should one of them indeed land the Classic.

 

Trends – Oaks

There are a few biases towards certain profiles in this race so I’ll list them quickly and discuss below:

– Last Ran less than 15 days ago – (2 wins from 34 runners) NEGATIVE

– Best or Joint Best Place Strike Rate in the field – (9 wins from 69 runners) POSITIVE

– One run this season & no more than 3 Career Runs – (5 wins from 57 runners) POSITIVE

 

It seems to be out of favour to have ran fairly recently in this race and it may be a case of the quick turn around just taking something out of the finish of a few horses. The odds of the runners who meet this criteria aren’t typically towards the top of the market but there’s enough single figure horses to justify a few doubts. Utilising this would see the favourite Marvellous alongside Marsh Daisy & Palace all scratched.

On 9 occasions in the last 17 years the winner of this race has had the best (or at least joint best) place strike rate in the field. We have a quintet of consistent performers in Ihtimal, Madame Chiang, Momentus, Taghrooda & Volume who have placed in all their careers starts to date.

The final trend of having just one start this year and no more than three in total isn’t as strong as the above in my opinion at just 10% win rate, but with a 30% place rate it is definitely worth a look and considering only 3 runners this year match it, it could be another piece in the puzzle of this race.

 

Madame Chiang, Momentus and Taghrooda are the three in question and if you apply the bias from the draw analysis, Madame Chiang should struggle drawn on the rail whilst the reminaing are drawn 8 & 9 which look fairly handy.

I’m struggling to find any negatives regarding the favourite, Taghrooda as she created such an impression in the Pretty Polly that she rates as a very realistic bet here. Momentus has finished third on both of her starts so far but she was doing all her best work at the end of the Oaks Trial at Lingfield last month and she should only come on for that. She’s a best price of 66/1 and I can’t help but have some small stakes each way on her at that price.

I have to give a mention to Ihtimal who didn’t meet the final criteria with 9 starts under her belt; with the last six of those in stakes races where she has won four and finished third on the other two occasions. She’s very consistent and she won ever so easily over 10 furlongs in the UAE Oaks at Meydan that she has to be taken very seriously here. She comes with risk though, as juding by the way she’s been campaigned predominantly towards faster ground she wouldn’t want the going have much juice in it, although her win in the Mayhill at Doncaster was on Good-to-Soft.

 

Speed Ratings – Derby

Last year I noted that horses who had posted a 116 or higher rating on my speed ratings has finished in the first four home 23 out of 54 times. Two of last year’s three who had done such finished second and fourth in close finish so once again I’m fairly confident of narrowing down the winner. The winner from last year, Ruler Of The World, posted a 111 rating at Chester prior to Epsom but it was done with a degree of ease that could have easily boosted him up past 116 if required.

 

Horse Name LTO Rating
 Australia 115
 Arod 109
 True Story 108
 Orchestra 106
 Romsdal 106
 Ebanoran 105
 Fascinating Rock 105
 Kingston Hill 105
 Snow Sky 105
 Pinzolo 103
 Geoffrey Chaucer 102
 Western Hymn 102
 Sudden Wonder 101
 Impulsive Moment 99
 Kingfisher 99
 Red Galileo 93
 Our Channel 87

 

This year figures throw a spanner in the works somewhat, as no horse has recorded a figure better than 115. Previous to last year the last 10 winners had shown themselves to be within at least 8lbs of the best rating in the field so that still looks like it might be the best place to start.

That leaves us with three runners in Australia, Arod and True Story. With Kingman winning the Irish 2000 Guineas from Shifting Power, and The Great Gatsby winning the Prix Du Jockey Club last weekend, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket has been given a serious form boost and Australia has been well touted for this race for a while.

It concerns me though, that seemingly every year these days Aidan O’Briens horse for the Derby is ‘the best he’s ever trained’, so whilst he has won the race four times from the last 17 years it has to be noted against the fact he has also sent 55 runners to the race in that time. Of those runners five has been outright or joint favourites but only two; Camelot (8/13) and Galileo (11/4) managed to win with Jan Vermeer, Fame And Glory and Hawk Wing the losers. Realistically, I think the price for Australia is too short and I’d want at least 2/1 before I considered backing him.

Both Arod and True Story finished close in behind The Great Gatsby in the Dante Stakes at York last month and with that winner bolting clear in the Prix Du Jockey Club, it can be taken to be strong performance by both. I’ve watched it a few times since and plenty of comments have been made regarding True Story being hampered by the winner who went towards his right. I’d argue that Arod was similarly impeded though as he was making ground on the right behind the pair before having to then switch back on the inside and still finished strongest of all.

I think True Story‘s price doesn’t reflect just that performance but more his impressive Feilden Stakes win at Newmarket prior to the Dante where he stormed clear by 7 lengths to Obliterator who in turn was a further 6 lengths clear of some useful performers. In my eyes though, it’s Arod who holds the better chance at this race judged on his performance in the Dante, as he was flat footed 2 furlongs out when both the first and third quickened up. He kept on duly though and gave the distinct impression that 12 furlongs would be more than adequate for him.

With my bet a solid each way prospect, I’m inclined to back now prior to the draw being made as hopefully a good draw could see him shorten. Both SkyBet and Coral are a couple of ticks shorter than the majority of the market but are offering Best Odds Guaranteed so I’m inclined to back with them.

BETS

Epsom Oaks
TAGHROODA @ 4/1 – 2pt WIN
MOMENTUS @ 66/1 – 0.5pt each way

Epsom Derby
AROD @ 14/1 – 1pt each way

About Author

I’m a newcomer to this collection of like minded and knowledgeable bloggers/bettors, and am still in awe of their expertise across a broad range of sports. I’ll be trying my best to chip in with posts that people hopefully find as informative as I do theirs.

3 Comments

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