Tag Archives: Epsom Oaks

The Oaks (Group 1)

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Flattering on her way down to post for the Lingfield Oaks Trial. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and John Walton.

A field of nine remain to contest this years Oaks, four from England and five from Ballydoyle. Godolphin’s leads the home challenge with Wild Illusion who is favourite.

She beat Willie Haggas’s Give And Take on debut last year in a Novice Stakes at Yarmouth in August. A trip to Paris in September followed where she was beaten at G2 level in the Prix d’Aumale but that was put right in a follow up visit on Arc day when she won the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac from Polydream and Mission Impassible. Magical, a late withdrawal here, was 1 3/4L back in fourth.

The form of the Prix Marcel Boussac isn’t looking great as Mission Impassible and Polydream both ran no sort of race when trailing in last and second last in the French Guineas a few weeks ago and prior to that in April Mission Impassable had also been beaten in the Prix de la Grotte.

This year Charlie Appleby sent Wild Illusion straight to the 1000 Guineas where she ran fourth 2 3/4L behind the winner Billesdon Brook. Laurens who was second at Newmarket has since put a shine on the form when going on to win the Prix Saint-Alary, a G1 over 10f at Longchamp. Happily third at Newmarket filled the same spot at the Curragh on Sunday in the Irish 1000 Guineas so the Godlphin filly’s form largely stands up.

Clive Cox’s Perfect Clarity is unbeaten in two run’s, one as a juvenile where she won a Novice Stakes at Nottingham and this year in her second run she won The Lingfield Oaks Trial under a hands and heels ride from Adam Kirby who had dropped his whip. Flattering was 3 1/2L behind in third.

Willie Haggas withdrew See Of Class from the race and now relies on Give And Take. She followed up her second to Wild Illusion last year with a Novice Stakes win at Lingfield and was then put away for the season. On return this year she ran second in another Novice Stakes at Sandown and then progressed from there to win The Musidora at York where she had David Simcock’s Ejtyah 2 1/2L back in third. Ejtyah won a Novice Stakes at Chelmsford Christmas week on her debut, her only previous racecourse appearance.

It might be the Dermot Weld filly Jaega (doesn’t run here) who holds the key to the Ballydoyle team. In April Jaega won a maiden at Leopardstown beating Samasthit 6 1/2L with Magic Wand a nose behind in third. In May Flattering beat Samasthit 10L in a Cork maiden and a few days later at the Curragh in the Blue Wind Stakes Bye Bye Baby beat Jaega 2L.

That would mean the pecking order of the Ballydoyle fillies gives Flattering an edge over Bye Bye Baby. Magic Wand is third in order though on jockey bookings she’s first being the choice of Ryan Moore. Ryan choose her on the back of her Cheshire Oaks win at Chester where she beat her stablemate Forever Together 3 1/2L who ranks fourth in order on the Jagea form line.

It’s hardly a secret that the Ballydoyle fillies can step up and win when their previous form doesn’t entitle them to do so. Aidan trains then from race to race relying on the engine within that comes from their breeding in the purple. Magic Wand’s win at Chester is testament to that.

I Can Fly makes up the quintet and she was tried in the Guineas where she was well beaten. No doubt Aidan had a view to this race in mind. Her race record would suggest she has it all to do yet she can’t be ruled out.

Wild Illusion has the best overall form but there is an if. Will she stay? The ground is the other worry. She should handle it as it was soft in France for the Boussac. Perfect Clarity has no concerns on the trip but will she handle the surface having encountered only good or fast conditions. Give And Take should handle an ease and get the trip as should Ejtyah but are either good enough. Of the Irish Bye Bye Baby ticks the boxes on the ground and trip as does Flattering but there are concerns for the other three over either ground or trip.

The Oaks is always a puzzle, until it’s run. It can produce greatness, Enable (2017), Minding (2016), Taghrooda (2014) but it’s also well capable of shocks. Was (2012) was a 20/1 winner and Qualify (2015) was returned at 50/1. Those  two shocks were provided by Ballydoyle.

Given the Ballydoyle pecking order courtesy of Jaega and the doubt about the favourite Wild Illusion staying then it may be worth trusting the Jaega form line and backing Padraig Beggy and his mount Flattering to win a second classic for him here at Epsom, one to add to his Derby win on Wings Of Eagles last year. Another shock at 40/1 trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Recommendation: Flattering 25/1 ew




Darley Irish Oaks (Group 1)

Just Pretending runs at the Curragh today in the Irish Oaks

Just Pretending runs at the Curragh today in the Irish Oaks

The heat wave continues and the norm for ground description is good to firm. Flat racing ground as it should be with hoofs rattling off burnt turf. Clerks have a job keeping it safe but its something to relish when nature gifts a summer of sound surfaces.

The Curragh today will be quick for the eight fillies who line up for the Irish Oaks.

The Ribblesdale winner Riposte takes on the Epsom winner Talent. At Ascot Lady Cecil’s filly beat Just Pretending 2 1/4 L  in a classy performance while Talent sprung somewhat of a surprise in the Oaks when beating her more fancied stablemate Secret Gesture. She picked up beautifully in the hands of Richard Hughes and stormed clear proving herself the best in the race.

Johnny Murtagh has been booked for his local knowledge by Alain De Royer-Dupre on Chiquita who comes here from the Prix Diane. Wound up at the back she made headway down the outside to snatch second. The very impressive winner Treve had already flown.

An Irish filly hasn’t won this since 2008 when Moonstone conquered and the home team is made of three from Ballydoyle , Just Pretending, Venus De Milo, Magical Dream and the Tommy Stack trained Alive Alive Oh. Of the O’Brien trio Venus De Milo is shortest in the betting at 6/1. She’s only seen the racecourse twice winning a Fairyhouse maiden and the Oaks trial at Naas three weeks ago, the latter on ground similar to this. Seamus Heffernan was in the plate at Naas and retains the ride while Joseph O’Brien renews his partnership with Just Pretending Seamie having ridden her the last twice.

Fossy Stack walked the entire course at Ascot before withdrawing Alive Alive Oh from the Ribblesdale where she would have gone off favourite. He must have known within ten strides that it was too much of a risk to run the Sue Ann Foley owned filly on Ascot’s fast ground. She previously blew away Magical Dream 6 L at Navan on yielding ground landing a considerable gamble most probably for the owners father JP McManus. Fossy will make the same walk across the Curragh but with the late start and the mercury rising G/F will be guaranteed. It must be frustrating for connections but if she wasn’t to be risked at Ascot then why do it here.

This is a very decent 3 year old fillies race with the best of European form on show. Riposte is appealing considering her ability to handle the ground. Talent may like it, it was G/S at Epsom but there’s a question mark. Both are short in the market.

Just Pretending is unconsidered yet she keeps improving with every run and has shown she handles this quick surface. She won an Irish Guineas trial before coming third to Just The Judge in the the Irish 1000 Guineas and while she didn’t have the turn of foot to cope with Riposte at Ascot she may benefit from this sharper Curragh track. She’s a Ballydoyle filly whose become battle hardened and that makes her capable of stepping it up and at 12/1 she’s an attractive each way proposition.

Recommendation : Just Pretending 12/1 e/w