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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Punts – Tips for Epsom Oaks Day on Friday

Epsom is a unique track and so the chances of finding value winners can often be bountiful. That is why our value tipster Matty Sutcliffe has six selections for Friday at the Surrey track, with two big price fancies in the Oaks itself.

Published: 11.55am, Wednesday, 29th May (Odds correct at time of publishing)

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2:00 Epsom – Betfred British EBF Woodcote Stakes (Conditions Race) (GBB Race) (Class 2) (2yo) – J Street 33/1 0.5pt EW (1/5 odds 1-3 places Paddy Power/Betfair, 50/1 Skybet) 

The forecast soft ground has desperately weakened this contest after declarations, with several of the early market principles not confirmed. Horses who’d previously ran over a galloping five furlongs, or a sharp six furlongs have tended to fare best of all in this contest (the exception was the subsequent Champion Two Year Old Pinatubo), and J STREET’s effort at Beverley on debut over five furlongs bodes well. 

The daughter of Washington DC was professional on debut, breaking smartly and travelling well on the outside but just blew up in the final stages against two who’d already had a run (finished 2nd and 3rd in the same race over C&D in April). The Lidster yard haven’t been quite as forward with their two year olds as they were last year, but plenty have shaped with promise and J Street has posted the best RPR of the thirteen. The form of the race has loosely worked out well as the winner was only beaten four lengths in the Listed Marygate at York, a length behind Jayvee who was ahead of both Larchill Lass and Call Me Harswell at Beverley. 

Connections had a 40/1 winner at Leicester earlier this week to add to a 17/2 winner at Carlisle and Lidster has had several others run well at a price, so they’re coming into form and if J Street has come forward from that effort at Beverly then she’s entitled to outrun her odds here and show up well. Nick Bradley won this with the excellent Oscula recently, and Silvestre De Sousa has been booked for a rare ride for the yard, who has a 20% strike rate at the course all time which can only bode well. 

Betfred British EBF Woodcote Stakes (Conditions Race) (GBB Race)

2:35 Epsom – Trustatrader Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-105) – Dashing Roger 20/1 0.5pt EW (1/5 odds 1-5 places Paddy Power/Betfair) 

DASHING ROGER is pretty much useless in the early parts of a season, or after a break in general, with his record fresh reading 2857000577, and he proved that when posting an RPR of 92 in the King Richard III Cup at Leicester after posting RPR’s of 58 and 45 when beaten 26L and 25L at Doncaster/Newbury. Despite running 2lbs above his rating of 90, the handicapper was kind enough to drop him 2lbs to his last winning mark of 88, and he’s still well handicapped on older form. 

His price appears nonsensica given he’s a pound better off with Al Mubhir who was two length ahead of him last time out and is joint favourite here at 6s in some places. Connections have pulled him from two meetings recently on account of good ground, unsurprisingly given this son of Fast Company’s twelve highest RPR’s (106-90) have all come with some soft in the description, and three of his eight wins have come on heavy going. 

Though the majority of his wins have come at a mile, his only run over 1m1/2F was a winning one at Nottingham (5L, heavy, 96 RPR, coincidentally sponsored by the same one here) so conditions should suit. He’ll be making his debut at Epsom, but he ran a blinder from stall 14 at Chester last May beaten 3/4L so there’s further optimism he’ll be suited to the speedy nature of the track, and if he’s able to back up his fifth from last time out then he’s entitled to outrun his lofty odds and at least hit the frame. 

Trustatrader Handicap
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3:45 Epsom Betfred Nifty 50 Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+) – City Streak 1pt Win (6/1 Sky Bet/William Hill, 5/1 Bet 365, 10/3 Paddy Power/Betfair) + Mysterious Love 50/1 0.5pt EW (1/5 odds 1-4 places Paddy Power/Betfair, 1/4 odds 1-4 places Skybet) 

CITY STREAK was a winner for the column at Chester last time out and I’m retaining the faith here, as I was mightily impressed with how he battled past the runner up who looked sure to get up on the line. His proven record around Chester bodes well for Epsom, and though he has a career high marks to contend with here, the fact he handles softer going and is proven over further suggests conditions will be no issue on Friday and he’s potentially still well in off 94 given the third from his second at Bath (two lengths ahead) subsequently bolted up five lengths here and is now rated 96. 

He was second to the subsequent Cambridgeshire runner up on his only other start in a class two at this trip (Zetland Gold Cup) which suggests he’s got the ability to mix it with these calibre of horses, and his half brother Quickthorn progressed with age so there’s plenty to suggest that he’s still very much a progressive sort himself. 

The other I’d like to play is the rank outsider MYSTERIOUS LOVE. The daughter of Dark Angel has a six day turnaround to contend with, but she shaped better than her finishing position suggests on what was her handicap debut and first start against males, beaten three lengths on good ground under the inexperience of Kyle Strydom. 

She’s an interesting contender despite 3lbs out of the weights, as she posted RPR’s of 96 and 99 in the G3 Valiant Stakes/G3 Atlanta Stakes last season behind genuine consistent Graded sorts, and if she’s able to recapture that ability as a four year old then she’s potentially well handicapped off 92 let alone her proper mark of 89. She bolted up on heavy ground at Nottingham last spring so the return to a slower surface may help, as should the return of an experience jockey in Cristian Demuro who’s ridden her on three occasions. David Menuisier is in excellent form with five wins and six places form his last twenty runners, and his record in handicaps at Epsom in the last five seasons reads a healthy four wins and ten places from just seventeen runners, including a win in this contest in 2021. 

Betfred Nifty 50 Handicap

4:30 Epsom – Betfred Oaks (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo) – Seaward 66/1 0.5pt EW (1/5 odds 1-3 places generally, Paddy Power 4 places – 100/1 Bet365) + Caught U Looking 40/1 generally 0.5pt EW (1/5 odds 1-3 places – Coral/Bet365 66/1) 

You’d have to go back to 2013 to find the last time that Aidan O’Brien or John Gosden didn’t win the Oaks, and Ralph Beckett was the last trainer to do so, adding to his victory with Look Here in 2008 courtesy of Talent. Those victories came at an SP of 33/1 and 20/1, latterly beating a stablemate who was 3/1, so I’ve opted to look past the Beckett pair of Forest Fairy (8/1) and You Got To Me (12/1), instead chancing one of the rank outsiders in SEAWARD

Seaward made most in the Cheshire Oaks, travelling well in front despite still looking a shade green. She only surrendered the lead late on, paving the way for stablemate Forest Fairy who travelled in behind her throughout, but she still galloped to the line and shaped as if coming on for the run. The latter point maybe the case, given the winner had only raced 88 days prior and the second had raced in April. She also appears overpriced on a line through Galileo Dame, the 4th, who had beat Rubies Are Red by three lengths a month prior, who is toward the fore of the market at 4/1. 

I’m under no illusion she’s accordingly priced due to her rating of 95 (joint lowest), but she’s bred to improve as a three-year-old and her sire Sea The Stars was responsible for the winner in 2014 and is of course a half brother to the mighty Galileo, who has sired multiple winners of the race in the last decade. Should it come up soft then the ground raises a slight eyebrow given her smart dam was a winner on firm in Saratoga, but she placed on heavy and is from the family of Kyrov and Gm Hopkins who both handled soft, so there’s some optimism. If she steps forward from that effort at Chester then she’s certainly entitled to outrun her odds, especially given Forest Fairy is 8/1. 

The other at a price is Noel Meade’s CAUGHT U LOOKING, who was beaten two lengths by the current 4/1 second favourite Ezeliya at Navan last month. She was beaten nine lengths on debut last season, but duly came on for that run when bolting up five lengths at Leopardstown, with the second now rated 102. She travelled well at Navan last time, but shaped as if needing the run in the final stages and as if the extra two furlongs would suit. 

By Derby winner Harzand, with a dam-line dating back to ’91 Epsom/Irish Derby winner Generous, she’s bred for the job and though beaten by Ylang Ylang on her penultimate start, she was sent off 4/1 suggesting much more was expected and the return to this softer going should aid her cause. She’s got as much potential as any of these, and is certainly overpriced with Ezeliya so I’m keen to have her onside. She rates another contender for frame possibilities with Colin Keane back in the saddle.

Betfred Oaks (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Fillies)
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