Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Not the best filly to look at but she’s pretty good

Purists may not find it in themselves to back such an ungainly filly for so venerable a Classic.

Physically, she is unprepossessing; she wears a visor, and a tongue tie; and she flashes her tail indignantly under the whip.

Others, however, will be comfortable with such heterodoxy when it is completed by Jim Bolger, a man who knows his own mind, and is not remotely bothered should others see the world a different way.

That was how he won the Derby itself with New Approach, a couple of years ago, and today one of Ireland's master horsemen can return to Epsom and win the Investec Oaks with Akdarena (4.05pm).

Even as it stands, her improved form since being fitted with headgear this spring gives her every chance. Last month she won a Group Three race at Naas by seven lengths, eased down, having had her pursuers gasping a long way out. However, her dour style of galloping promises better again over the longer distance today, and likewise a pedigree saturated with staying power. Her sire, Hernando, is a deep well of stamina, while her dam is by a similar influence in Shirley Heights and herself won over a mile and a half. Akdarena will relish every extra blade of grass.

The man who saddled Jet Ski Lady to make all at 50-1 in 1991 could easily repeat the trick in a race where very few will be ridden with complete confidence in their ability to get the trip. Nor has there been the slightest indication that this filly's windmill tail — something that tends to indicate lack of commitment — will do anything other than spur her on.

The obvious starting point, among her opposition, is Henry Cecil. No race defines his genius better than the Oaks, and he was inches away from making it nine wins with Midday last year.

But his stable jockey Tom Queally must have aged 10 years in making the choice between Aviate and Timepiece. Everyone seems unanimous that the latter is infinitely superior, in their homework. Unfortunately, she has yet to offer any corroboration on the track, and Queally has duly elected to ride Aviate.

Perhaps the best each-way value is Gertrude Bell, an honest staying filly.

Sariska, who beat Midday so narrowly, returns for the Investec Coronation Cup (2.45pm) and her resumption at York suggested that she will prove better again this time round, with the maturing of that imposing physique.

But Fame And Glory looks ready to confirm himself the season's top older horse over middle distances.

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