Racing

Horse can play a winning hand in Oaks

Andrew Balding's Horseplay is taken to cause something of a shock in the Investec Oaks at Epsom this afternoon Picture: PA

Horseplay is overpriced in the betting for the Investec Oaks at Epsom this afternoon.

Trainer Andrew Balding unquestionably knows his onions, yet were she housed at Ballydoyle or Clarehaven, his filly would not be double figures to win the mile-and-a-half Classic.

Rhododendron is admittedly a worthy favourite, having won the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket as a juvenile.

She also looked unlucky in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, but it remains inconclusive whether or not she would have hauled back Winter with a cleaner run.

Everything points towards a big run from the market leader, but it is entirely plausible that Horseplay can expose any chinks in Rhododendron's armoury.

Having broken her maiden by some 13 lengths, the daughter of Cape Cross has kept Balding warm during those long, winter months as he knew exactly what he had in his care.

And when she did resurface at Newmarket on May 7, the outcome was pretty spectacular.

Horseplay had the time of her life in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes as she thrived on the fast ground to account for Isabel De Urbina by three-quarters-of-a-length.

That rival has long been viewed upon as a Classic contender by Ralph Beckett, so the form is clearly strong as the two fillies once again go head-to-head at Epsom.

It should also be remembered, too, that the Pretty Polly is often an exemplary Oaks trial as Ouija Board (2004), Talent (2013) and Taghrooda (2014) have all obliged in recent years.

Horseplay has been kept quietly ticking over since then, and will have gained plenty from a spin at Epsom last week, when she appeared to take everything in her stride.

With her trainer adamant she will stay this longer trip and with seemingly no issues about the ground, she has a heck of a lot going for her.

Balding won the Oaks in 2003 with Casual Look in his first year with a licence. Pertinently, he has not had another runner in the race until now.

The Investec Coronation Cup looks tough to work out, but a conservative chance is taken on Hawkbill.

Charlie Appleby's colt is one of the best in the business when the mud is flying, as evidenced by victories at Royal Ascot and in the Eclipse at Sandown last year.

Whether it will be soft enough for him at Epsom is a moot point, but it will not be rattling fast so he might just get away with it.

His renaissance at Newbury a fortnight ago also hints at a definitive return to form.

Remarkable can run amok from the head of the weights in the Investec Click & Invest Mile Handicap.

Quite a lot went wrong for John Gosden's four-year-old in the Victoria Cup at Ascot, so he did particularly well to get to within four lengths of the winner, Fastnet Tempest.

His form before that in rough-and-tough handicaps was smart and it is quite easy at this stage to imagine him winning this en route to the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot.

What About Carlo should be much sharper than on his return to action at Chelmsford a week ago and cannot be ignored in the Investec Wealth & Investment

Handicap.

Trained by in-form Eve Johnson Houghton, he hardly rates a handicap snip but that burden is perhaps offset by his excellent track record.

Nap: Horseplay

(4:30: Epsom)

Double: Hawkbill

(3:10: Epsom)

Treble: Remarkable

(2:35: Epsom)

Yankee: What About Carlo

(3:45: Epsom)

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