We have a cracking card at Haydock to look forward to on Saturday afternoon. The pick of the races from a class perspective is the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks at 2.15. Initially restricted to three-year-old’s, the race was opened to older fillies in 1991. It’s honours even in that time with 12 wins for the three year olds and 12 for the older horses.
Currently heading the betting at around the 4.33 mark is Lady Tiana. Lucy Wadham’s bay by Sir Percy has run creditably in two Group 3 contests so far this season. It is difficult to see why she is clear favourite here though. Whilst she didn’t get the clearest of passages last time out, she still has 2 and half lengths to find with Miss Marjurie, who re-opposes here. The prospect of the predicted storms arriving on Friday night is the only real explanation for her price, as Lady Tiana is a confirmed mud lark. With the weather in the region positively tropical for the rest of the weekend though, the ground is far from certain to come up soft.
The aforementioned Miss Marjurie is more interesting at around 6.0. Dennis Coakley’s mare comes here seeking a hat trick following a Listed and Group 3 double in May. That Group win came over this very course and distance, a race in which she had four of today’s rivals trailing in behind. None of the quartet of Lady Tiana, Criteria, Lustrous or Queen Of Ice could get to within two and a half lengths of her that day and purely on recent form, she should be starting favourite here. We couldn’t put anyone off backing her, but at the prices we just prefer another in the field.
The horse we are backing is one of those fillies to have finished in behind Miss Marjurie here last time out. John Gosden has won this race six times in all, one more victory will see him join Henry Cecil as the all-time most successful trainer in the history of the race. We think Criteria may be just the horse to do it. The best form of this bay by Galileo stacks up pretty well against the opposition here. She has had two previous attempts in a Group 2 contest and has finished third both times, going down by just ¾ of a length to Bracelet in last season’s Ribblesdale Stakes was a particularly smart effort. She hasn’t pulled up any trees on her two runs of the current season but did at least show marked improvement from her first to second outing. Having been beaten 8 3/4l in a Listed contest at Goodwood first time out, she put in a much improved display when going down by 3 ¼ lengths to Miss Marjurie here. She looks to be coming to hand at just the right time for this and will also have the aid of first time blinkers on Saturday. Back her each way at around 9.0.
By: Paul Harrison