Winter Oaks: Luke Elder on every runner for Saturday’s Winter Million feature at Lingfield! | Racing News

Winter Oaks: Luke Elder on every runner for Saturday’s Winter Million feature at Lingfield! | Racing News

Sky Sports Racing presenter Luke Elder looks at every contender for Saturday’s showpiece £100,000 Winter Oaks at the Winter Million Festival at Lingfield Park.

The weather has unleashed an all-out assault on UK racing this week, but with fingers firmly crossed I predict that Saturday and Sunday of the Winter Million at Lingfield Park, live on Sky Sports Racing, will go ahead without a problem.

Just in time for the National Hunt action on Sunday, the weather is expected to improve but Saturday will see a fascinating all-weather card with the BetMGM Winter Oaks Fillies Handicap at 3.10 as the feature.

Watch every race from the Winter Million at Lingfield Park live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 January.

Oh So Grand

Jockey: J Mitchell | Trainer: S & E Crisford

Simon & Ed Crisford once again have a key runner in this race after landing the prize in 2023 with the classy Al Agaila.

Stablemate Oh So Grand has taken the same route to this contest by winning the Trial over course and distance in December.

She beat Queen Regent that day who also lines up here by a cosy length and a quarter, finishing fast and late down the outside, however, faces a four-pound swing at the weights with that rival.

While I don’t see that form being reversed, I do feel that we may see her best over a mile and a half and she has more to prove today in a stronger field, but remains the one to beat.

Miss Bluebelle

T E Whelan | M P Tregoning

There are plenty of improving types in this race, which is to be expected, but none have progressed faster than Miss Bluebelle. Her latest run at Wolverhampton was undoubtedly a career-best, when brushing aside three recent winners off a seven-pound lower mark.

The draw has also been kind to her as stall two is an ideal starting point to attack, which is advantageous for a forward-going horse. There are however risks attached, the main one being her free-going style, although that didn’t stop her last time out.

Connections have reached for a hood to counter that trait, which has seen her win three times from seven attempts since the addition. She remains unraced in this grade of Class 2, but has earned her place and must be respected.

Queen Regent

R Havlin | J & T Gosden

John & Thady Gosden saddle their first runner in this race with Queen Regent, who was mentioned in passing when talking about Oh So Grand.

She got a perfect trip along the inside rail when second to that rival in the Trial for this race. While she appears comfortably held on that form, connections have applied a set of cheek pieces to bring out further improvement and she is four pounds better off at the weights with Oh So Grand.

That still may not be enough, and a place may be the best she can hope for.

Behind The Scenes

Rossa Ryan | J Tate

James Tate’s sole runner has been on her travels recently leading to good efforts in defeat at Dundalk in Ireland and Deauville in France. Both of those runs seemed a step too far in Listed company, so has her sights lowered back in a handicap.

Her most recent handicap effort came in October when second to a progressive rival, but this race still demands more from her current mark of 87. One potential positive is the step up in trip, which on paper may not necessarily be what she wants but she has finished strongly over a mile, giving the thought that this trip is worth a go.


R L Moore | S & E Crisford

One of the least exposed runners in the race comes in the form of Simon & Ed Crisford’s second string, Twirling. Despite tasting defeat on her most recent run, she remains of interest with a step up in trip looking sure to suit.

All four runs so far have come over a mile, and in three of them, she has made the running which may not have been the plan. Importantly, there are other pace angles in this contest which should mean that Twirling won’t have to lead and will get a nice trip into this race and be competitive.

One final factor is the addition of Ryan Moore, who is yet to partner Twirling, but would be a positive for any horse.


Joshua Bryan | F J Brennan

Dayzee may already be in her third yard despite only having seven runs, but she boasts a level of consistency which makes her a player in this race. She was most recently seen when making her debut for Barry Brennan with a narrow defeat while still beating Twirling by a head.

That race developed into a sprint which will have benefitted Dayzee more than the larger framed Twirling, this task will demand something different. She is entitled to improve for that run which came after a break of 162 days and I would once again expect her to be ridden forward, a tactic that saw her to victory at Salisbury in June.

This class of race will need improvement, but she has a live each-way chance for a yard that had a rare first-time out winner on Thursday.


Tommie Jakes (7) | George Boughey

If you were to travel back in time to the start of December and tell George Boughey that his 65-rated filly Storymaker would have a leading chance in the Winter Oaks, you may have been met with a funny look.

You would also have paid for a few Christmas presents as she has now won four straight races and finds herself 15 pounds higher in the handicap. It isn’t just Storymaker that is improving. Rider Tommie Jakes has partnered her on the last three outings and can once again claim a valuable seven pounds.

While the combination may be the feel-good story of the race, they are met with a few obstacles that they will need to overcome. She is unraced in a grade higher than a Class 4, but nobody could begrudge her a chance at a big Saturday prize.

The second and more concerning issue is that her one try at this trip ended in defeat, but she is a much-improved horse compared to that stage of her career. My heart will be cheering on Storymaker, but my head says that this will be a step too far.

Eleanor Cross

David Probert | A M Balding

Andrew Balding’s representative is the least experienced horse in this race with only three career starts, she is also the only horse without a win to her name. In each of her runs to date, she has encountered classy rivals who have earned ratings capable of making them top weight in this race.

On those efforts, a mark of 75 may lead to her being well-treated, but this is a very tricky spot to make a handicap debut, and this is the shortest break she has had between runs so far. With everything taken into account, she is by far the most interesting contender and must be monitored in the market.

Luke Elder’s Verdict

Team Crisford look to have a very strong chance to take this race again, but it’s TWIRLING that I’m taking to come out on top.

There looks to be plenty of pace in this race which will give Ryan Moore a lead into the race over this longer trip. Watch for her stablemate Oh So Grand staying on late in the day, her best is still to come and Eleanor Cross is a big-priced runner that can’t be ignored on an adventurous handicap debut.




Sky Bet odds I Today’s race cards

Watch every race from the Winter Million at Lingfield Park live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 519) on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of January.

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