“Lies, damned lies and statistics” is an apocryphal quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and we’ll be finding out the truth of his assertion this afternoon, when the first day of the Epsom Derby meeting takes place.

The Investec Oaks at 4.30 has a field of just 9, five of which are supplied by our old friend Mr A O’Brien. Having failed to win either of the Irish Guineas, the theory, presumably, is to throw as many darts at the board and hope for the best.

Favourite for the race is the Charlie Appleby trained Wild Illusion, best priced at 9-4 and berthed snugly in stall 1, to which the headline refers.

1999 was the last time ANY horse won ANY 12 furlong race at Epsom from this perch and in the past 16 runnings of The Oaks, 14 of trap 1 residents have failed even to make the frame.

Avoid it like the plague, then?

No, we don’t think so.

Wild Illusion is already a Group 1 winner, having taken the Prix Marcel Boussac last October, on ground similar to today’s and a staying on 4th in the Qipco 1000 Guineas last month on fast ground showed the ability completely intact. This is stand-out form and we recommend a bet at the available 5-2 – and to hell with the stats.

The other Group 1 race on the card, the Investec Coronation Cup at 3.10 is at the mercy of the mighty Cracksman, which is a 2-7 poke, so no action required.

The Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap is, er, a handicap over a mile, with a nice 9-runner shape. 3 horses are vying for favouritism at around 9-2 but we’ll take a chance that Able Jack can translate its AW form to the turf. A winner of 3 from 4 this year, AJ is available at an attractive 14-1 and should be backed each way.

At 3.45, the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap sees the reappearance of Roger Varian‘s lightly raced 4-y-o Ajman King, already twice a CD winner and the epitome of the over-used adage about a ‘Group horse running in a handicap’. Just 5lbs higher than when storming home at the end of April, a fourth successive victory looks on the cards and a win bet at 11-8 is suggested.

Further down the weights is a horse which may well out-run its odds, in the shape of Native Fighter, trained by local boy Simon Dow, so we also recommend an each way bet on this beastie at 25-1.

The Investec Surrey Stakes, a Listed contest over 7f has a field of six and a strong favourite with John Gosden‘s Kings Shield. Close 6th in the Group 1 French 2000 Guineas just 19 days ago, we think this horse should be heavy odds-on, so at 6-4 against its a definite bet.

Last race of the day at Epsom is the Investec Zebra Handicap, also over 7f and we can leave this in the hands of SDS, who has gone without his breakfast to ride Galloway Hills at 8st 2lbs. Best form and best jockey make this a fine bet, especially as we can just about do it each way at 4-1.

Back tomorrow, for another stall 1 speculation.


Wild Illusion 4.30 Epsom win @ 9-4 10Bet
Able Jack 2.35 Epsom e/w @ 14-1 Ladbrokes
Ajman King 3.45 Epsom win @ 11-8 SkyBet
Native Fighter 3.45 Epsom e/w @ 25-1 William Hill (3 places) / 22-1 Skybet (4 places)
Kings Shield 5.15 Epsom win @ 6-4 Betbright
Galloway Hills 5.50 Epsom e/w @ 4-1 Coral (4 places)

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