14:00 Investec Woodcote Stakes
This doesn’t look especially strong by previous standards, and there doesn’t look much to get our teeth into from a laying perspective, with the favourite running well in a strong race at Newbury last time, and I’d be loath to take Marie’s Diamond on with the ground likely to suit. Too many of these could improve either a little or a lot, so it’s hard to approach with great confidence.
14:35 Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap
This is more like it, with exposed handicappers easier to build a case upon, and the eye is drawn to the unpredictable Masham Star, who is short in the betting after a back-to-form second at Ayr on firm ground. He’s effective on a range of ground but ran a stinker on soft at Goodwood two starts back, and the going could be very testing on the opening day of the Derby meeting.
He’s now been unplaced on his last seven starts on ground described as soft or worse by Timeform, and while he’s probably going to win a handicap from his falling mark this summer, I fear it won’t be this one.
Recommended: Lay Masham Star for a place @ 2.5 or shorter
15:10 Investec Coronation Cup
This should be uncompetitive, with Cracksman much the best on form, and always considered the type to mature into a better four-year-old by John Gosden. His best performance came on soft, and it simply seems churlish to try and pick holes in him, when conditions are a bigger worry for his main rivals. Hawkbill ran pretty well in this last year, but was below his best form, and while it would be unfair to pigeon-hole him as a flat-track bully, he is definitely better when able to boss his opposition, and can only win if he’s given too much rope here.
Idaho was third to Enable in a soft-ground King George last season, but the balance of his form suggests he’s better on a faster surface, and he’s fundamentally a Group 2 performer (King George was his only placing in his last nine outings at the top level), so appeals as the weak link at the prices.
I’d imagine that William Buick will try to dictate on Hawkbill, and a tactical race at this trip won’t suit the stamina-laden Idaho as much as his rivals. In addition, should Buick elect to come up the near side in the straight, Idaho’s likely poor track position would be a bigger negative, forcing him to either angle for gaps near the rail, or move wide and fight the camber.
Recommended: Lay Idaho for a place @ 2.7 or shorter
15:45 Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap
I’m a big fan of Banditry as a rule, but he’s another who is probably at his best on a sound surface despite having form on softer, and I can see his draw in stall 1 being a negative if the field elect to race under the stands rail, his hold-up style suggesting he’d be in a less-than-ideal position in the dash for home, and comments made about Idaho in terms of coming to the rail and hoping for gaps or sticking to the unfavoured middle also apply here.
Recommended: Lay Banditry for a place @ 3.0 or shorter
16:30 Investec Oaks
Magic Wand is proven on heavy ground, some would say, but her efforts in the mud represent only fair form, and her big improvement came when meeting a sounder surface at Chester, for all her progress was probably not affected by the change in surface alone. How much she can continue to improve is the question, as the Cheshire Oaks form is not so solid as to make her a worthy second favourite, and she did get the run of things.
That Ryan Moore rides ensures she’ll be short, but any one of the Coolmore fillies could win this, and history shows that not even the master trainer knows how his representatives will fare here, the lesson is that they can only prove their worth by being given a chance.
Recommended: Lay Magic Wand @ 5.9 or shorter