The Oaks is the third of Britain’s five classic races to be held during the season, and the second of two restricted only to fillies. It is also the middle leg of the Fillies Triple Crown, preceded by the 1000 Guineas and followed by the St Leger, although the feat of winning all three is rarely attempted these days, with the allure of better prize money and racing abroad.
In a race of this nature is pays to follow a few basic rules, and by following these a winner can usually be sourced.
- 9 of the last 10 winners achieved their highest RPR on their most recent run.
- 9 of the last 10 winners were born between February 1st – April 31st (Casual Look only exception).
- 10 of the last 10 winners had all previously won over 1M+
- 10 of the last 10 winners had run within 35 days of the Oaks.
- The last 8 winners had finished in the first two of a recognised Oaks Trial (Musidora, Pretty Polly, Sweetenham, Height Of Fashion, Lingfield Oaks, Cheshire Oaks).
Clocked a really fast time on debut when second to Princess Highway (who has since gone on to further success in the Blue Wind Stakes) but appeared to be beaten on merit at Chester in the Cheshire Oaks last time out. The winner and third have both run since and have been beaten out of sight, and whilst I can see this one performing more a ‘forcing of the pace’ role for her yard, I don’t think she possesses the necessary class to take out a classic.
Stable-mate to Cubanita, Ralph Beckett should have a line on where he is at in regards Betterbetterbetter on his running of Cubanita in the Cheshire Oaks, the latter named has since been stuffed in the Italian Oaks after holding a provisional entry in this race, and given the ease in which Vow beat her in the Lingfield Oaks Trial last time it is hard to imagine this one troubling the judge. That said she was held up off a slow pace, and quickened into the teeth of the race as all those quickened in-front of her, so she could finish in the top six.
From the first crop of Sir Percy, she took out the same race Snow Fairy did prior to winning the 2010 Oaks, when landing the Height Of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood on her most recent start. Once again ridden by Rab Havlin who gave this small compact filly a beautiful ride at Goodwood last time however I fear she lacks the necessary class to play a hand in the finish at this highest level, and she is passed over this time.
This is a filly in which I’m struggling to get a real handle on. On the bare face of her form she has it all to do with the remainder of this field, but on her speed rating when second to Yellow Rosebud 19 days ago she isn’t as far behind as you’d think. The remainder of races on that card suggest it wasn’t a case of 1 quick, 6 slow races on the day and thus putting forward a rogue time, so I’m led to believe it’s a genuine reflection. The winner Yellow Rosebud bombed out in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the weekend (ground faster than ideal) which tempers enthusiasm a little, but wouldn’t be a surprise were this one to sneak into it at around 50/1 – in much the same way that Peeping Fawn improved back in 2007.
A nice horse who is bred to want two miles on dosage, her pedigree is laden with stamina. It was nice to see this half-sister to Dubai Sheema Classic winner Eastern Anthem return in fine fettle at Newmarket to take out the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Guineas weekend, and the daughter of Monsun has since been supplemented into the race at the final acceptance stage. She has it to find on figures but she won really easily at Newmarket last time and although she’ll have to improve rapidly to have a shout here – it wouldn’t be beyond the wildest realms of the imagination were she to sneak into the frame.
It has been stated by Annemarie O’Brien on Twitter that this choicely bred individual will only run if there is any rain. She has a rounded action and wouldn’t appreciate running at a track such as Epsom Downs with its various undulations on ground faster than ideal. She remains a very smart prospect that looks certain to win her share of Group prizes along the way, being a half sister to Pour Moi (2011 Derby winner) amongst others.
The antepost favourite for ‘The Oaks’ Maybe returned to the racecourse at three with a distant third to stable-mate Homecoming Queen in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. Both winner and second placed have since been soundly beaten (4th placed The Fugue won Musidora next time). She is plenty short enough in the betting and I hold nothing on ratings to suggest she should be double the price she is, let alone 11/4. I will be looking to take her on as she looks to buck the trend that 9 of the last 10 winners of the race clocked their highest RPR on their most recent start.
Has seen the track a total of 12 times already in her short career, and the form of her races this season aren’t working out at all. The Nell Gwyn at the time looked a modest event, and with Esentepe and Starscope since coming out and getting beaten in Listed grade, Lady Gorgeous beaten in a handicap off 90 and a few other defeats for other runners it is hard to see why this daughter of Cape Cross can get competitive in this grade of field, and her run at Goodwood behind Coquet last time gives her plenty to do.
A nicely bred daughter of Shirocco who improved upon all form with a massive comeback second on her return at Newbury last time out, and a very close one at that. She travelled best of all throughout the race and Darryll Holland was happy to keep her in-behind horses for as long as possible thus allowing eventual winner Momentary a slight advantage in bagging the inside rail, but was just held at the line. She is bred to appreciate the step up to twelve furlongs, and looks a really well balanced individual that should have no problems negotiating the quirky track that is Epsom.
Based on all the information I have before me, this filly tops the charts. The John Gosden trained filly has never been renowned as a ‘flashy’ worker at home, but she has been coming on leaps and bounds as a three year old, and most notably when readily accounting for her field in the Musidora Stakes at York. Prior to that she finished an eye-catching fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket from an unpromising position, on ground softer than ideal and after a delayed start which wouldn’t have suited her. She fits almost all notable trends for the race, and is a lovely small compact type that will have no troubles handling the cambers of Epsom Downs and will absolutely relish the likely quicker ground forecast.
Off just a rating of 85, it looks an almost impossible task for this daughter of Halling who on the form holds some fairly decent bits and pieces that would allow her to take a big hand in the right grade (handicap). However this is a tall order and her 200/1 price tag reflects her chance, and this is a case in point of ’tilting at windmills’.
A full sister to multiple group 1 winning racemare Misty For Me, she was beaten on debut when green and quickly made amends on her next start – in a very good time for the grade. She was then beaten on return to the track by Chrysanthemum (a horse who had previously clocked good times) and you’d have to think she’d of been left with plenty to work on. Her most recent effort at York in the Musidora (a track where Aidan O’Brien appears to struggle) is better than the form suggests. Joseph O’Brien appears to ride the Knavesmire circuit too attackingly for what is required, and I wouldn’t write her off after seemingly being well beaten by The Fugue – as she went too quick in the early half of the race, and had nothing left at the business end.
Won a maiden at Newbury in a quick time when coming from the rear of the field to beat Everlong (4th in Cheshire Oaks since) on her debut. The way she won that race suggests she was well above average and confirmed that impression when winning the Lingfield Oaks Trial on her most recent start. She still looked green in winning her most recent race, and her wayward tendencies have cause for concern given the nature of the track she plans to run around on Friday. That said William Haggas is looking to defend his 100% record in the Epsom Classics (being 2-2 with Shaamit & Dancing Rain) and he wouldn’t be sending her here if he didn’t think she was up to the task.
Won her debut well at the Curragh in a decent time at the back end of her two-year-old campaign, and returned in the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas to finish third behind Princess Highway. She was beaten 1.75L by Aaraas though (who was beaten 8.5L by Kissed) which suggests although she’ll improve for the run, she had plenty to do here – and when you add to the fact that only one horse has won the Oaks in the last 10 years born later than 31st April (she’s a May foal) she becomes even harder to fancy.
THE DUKE SPEED RATINGS
The Fugue (119), Devotion (118?), Twirl (114), Shirocco Star (114), Maybe (108), Vow (106+), Kissed (106+), Kailani (104+), Betterbetterbetter (104), Coquet (103), Colima (103+), Nayarra (100), Was (88), Toptempo (80).
For me this is a race which revolves around the John Gosden filly THE FUGUE. She was available at much larger prices earlier in the season, and after two really impressive runs in both the 1000 Guineas and Musidora Stakes has been backed accordingly. She is bred to relish the step-up to a mile and a half, is a lovely small compact filly and most importantly well-balanced and will relish the decent ground currently on offer.
I think at the prices Maybe is chronically underpriced based on what I’ve seen and clocked, I wouldn’t be backing her at 11/2 let alone 11/4 and will be laying her on the day (she’ll probably gag up now!).
Of the more fancier priced types, I hold a large rating and probably unreliably so for Devotion who if according to my figures will massively outrun her 50/1 price tag. I am far from convinced on this one, but will be playing a small win stake at the price. Twirl has every chance based on what I’ve seen and clocked, she shouldn’t be 40/1 and ought to run better here than at York but stamina is a worry given she is a full sister to Misty For Me who didn’t get the trip last year. The only other one I like is Shirocco Star who travelled so well at Newbury last time, will come on heaps for the run and will have no problems with the extra yardage here, and looks overpriced at 20/1 – I think the Queen’s racing manager is potentially missing a trick not running the Royal filly Momentary in this.
1st – THE FUGUE
2nd – DEVOTION
3rd – SHIROCCO STAR
4th – TWIRL
5th – VOW