If the ground remains quick it is worth taking on globetrotter Alpinista with an Irish raider, says Jamie Radford ahead of the Yorkshire Oaks at the York Ebor Festival.
Yorkshire Oaks 2022 - Winner
Like many of the Sir Mark Prescott horses, Alpinista has benefited from age and distance and comes here with a rating 21 higher (118 from 97) than when contesting this race in 2020. Back then, she came off a fillies listed win, now she comes off the back of four Group 1’s.
All those Group 1’s have been over the 12 furlong trip and although they were achieved abroad there is a notable piece of form to mention; the first victory included a 2 ¾ length defeat of Arc hero Torquator Tasso. However, that was on Torquator Tasso’s unpreferred good ground; ground which he got beat a similar distance by 119 rated Pyledriver in this year’s King George VI stakes.
All Alpinista’s Group 1’s have been achieved abroad and despite her globetrotting successes she hasn’t been reached the same heights in the UK. Indeed, this will mark her first Group 1 attempt in England or Ireland. To date, her best form in England is collecting a fillies Group 2.
Yet here, she beat 95 rated Lady Hayes, and 100 rated Cabaletta (now rated 98). However, on Thursday, she runs against two 115-rated fillies (Tuesday and La Petite Coco) who have both won Group 1’s. There is no doubt this is her toughest task to date.
Indeed, her participation in the 2020 Yorkshire Oaks on quick ground was underwhelming as she was comfortably put in her place by Love by five lengths.
She kept on well that day and suggested that on quicker ground she may just need 1m 6f, especially in smaller fields. Indeed, three of her last five wins have come with the word “soft” in the description and one worries she may lack a change of gear on a quicker surface.
One horse in receipt of the valuable 9lb is Ribblesdale and Irish Oaks winner Magical Lagoon (4/1). The daughter of Galileo has improved leaps and bounds from two to three.
Indeed, she found the Group 1 Fillies Mile far too tough for her at the end of her two-year-old season which hinted she may not be a Group 1 filly.
Yet this season Harrington’s charge has proved all her doubters wrong, short heading to Epsom 4th Concert Hall, before winning at Royal Ascot to then collecting the Irish Oaks. With any improving horse, it’s dangerous to say they’ve reached their ceiling and there may still be more to come from a rating of 109 however there are several holes to pick.
Both the Ribblesdale and the Irish Oaks have major form holes to consider. The Ribblesdale (Gr 2) is often seen to those horses not good enough for the Oaks. Although perhaps a useless platitude, it seems to hold truth this year.
Indeed, 4th placed Mukaddamah was 5th of six when dropping back into a fillies listed race and 3rd placed History was dead last the next time. Regarding the Irish Oaks, 2nd placed Toy was 7th in a German Group 1 next time comfortably beaten in a Group 3 next time.
Magical Lagoon comes here on the top of her game but both her biggest achievements have major form holes and despite her receipt of 9lbs I doubt she will be good enough to make the trip worth it.
Having only run once at two, Tuesday (best price 4/1) came into her classic season as an unknown quantity but has proven a model of consistency this year. After running 3rd at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas on only her third start, a race which seems to reward tough experienced fillies (including this year’s winner Cachet), she defeated British hotpot Emily Upjohn in the Epsom Oaks.
Perhaps she was a tad fortunate that day with Gosden’s filly losing many lengths at the start, but she was three lengths clear of Nashwa who gave the form a boost when winning the Group 1 Nassau stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
However, last time out she took on the colts when contesting the Irish Derby and was bitterly disappointing. O’Brien’s filly was sent off the 11/8 joint favourite but underwhelming was beaten 10 lengths into 4th. Ryan Moore reported she wasn’t travelling at any stages and perhaps she just ran flat but she will need to put that performance behind her to be a major threat on Thursday.
However, she does get the receipt of 9lbs and she drops back into fillies only company so there is hope she may bounce back and she looks the biggest threat of the three-year-olds.
La Petite Coco
One horse who’s improved out of recognition is Paddy Twomey’s La Petite Coco (11/2) who improved throughout her three-year-old career to pick up a Group 3 and a Group 2 on her final two starts.
Indeed, it was the latter Group 2 that particularly caught my eye, where she stepped back down to an inadequate 10 furlongs and yet managed to beat multiple Group 1 heroine Love. Indeed, Alpinista’s best 10 furlong form was winning a listed race over two years ago, indicating that Paddy Twomey’s charge may currently possess the greater turn of foot.
Regarding her defeat of Love, it is important to note that undoubtedly Love was a much better horse at three than at four and it is therefore unwise to directly compare Alpinista’s five-length loss to Love to La Petite Coco’s conquering of her, but it is a useful marker.
Moreover, 3rd placed Thundering Nights, who was beaten three lengths, was subsequently a gallant 5th in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera Longines at Longchamp (beaten only 3 ½ lengths here), giving the form a solid look about it.
La Petite Coco reappeared to take the Group 1 Pretty Polly in June defeating My Astra by half a length showing her development and continued upward trajectory over her winter break.
Despite the look of a quality field on Thursday and having to give weight away to some smart three-year-olds, the daughter of Ruler of the World may just be the key here.
Yorkshire Oaks 2022 Tips
Only three of the last 10 winners - one being Enable - have been older horses proving it is not easy giving away 9lbs to improving three-year-olds.
However, there are holes in the Classic generation’s form and it may pay dividends chancing LA PETITE COCO who arrives here on the back of a personal best in the Group 1 Pretty Polly stakes and looks sure to appreciate the return to 1m 4f. Tuesday could arguably challenge Alpinista for 3rd with quick ground perhaps against Sir Mark Prescott’s filly.