The Jubilee bank holiday weekend brings the next two classics of the UK season with it and as always the first one to come along is the Cazoo Oaks where the fillies get their chance to shine under the Epsom sunshine.
It isn’t the deepest field for this race that we have ever seen but it could well turn into quite a competitive betting heat. Here is our full preview of the big race which includes a big priced selection.
4.30 Epsom: The Oaks
The 3rd classic of the season is already upon us as today sees the girls take on middle distances in the Oaks over the mile and a half trip. We all know that Epsom isn’t the easiest track to navigate & that means that the formbook often goes out of the window. A field of 11 go to post here & it’s worth noting that half of the last 10 runnings with double figure fields have gone to horses priced 20/1 or bigger so do not dismiss a shock result from happening. One other thing to note is that this race belongs to John Gosden and/or Aiden O’Brien with the pair saddling the last 8 winners between them. The market suggests they’ll increase that winning streak to 9 given they have 6 of the 11 runners, including the first 5 in the market. So, what of the Gosden / O’Brien runners?
Gosden saddles the front 2 in the market in the shape of Emily Upjohn and Nashwa. The former is 3 from 3 & absolutely hosed up in the Musidora by over 5 lengths. That’s the best form on offer here & in a substandard renewal, she could be hard to beat. The concerns I have for her are the track, given she’s a very big filly, and her inability to settle early. If she copes with those, she’s the most likely winner. Nashwa would be a great winner for the sport given Hollie Doyle is aboard & she’s got solid claims. I was at Haydock when she won a novice event as easy as you like & she followed up at Newbury 3 weeks ago in a Listed race. I’m not convinced she wants the extra distance but if she stays, she should go well.
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O’Brien saddles the rank outsider in The Algarve who is unlikely to be good enough but his other 3 are hard to split. Tuesday has finished in the first 3 in both the English & Irish 1000 Guineas but has never gone beyond a mile. That said, she is the choice of Ryan Moore so you have to expect there’s confidence she’ll get the trip. Concert Hall was just behind Tuesday in the Irish 1000 Guineas & had won over a mile & a quarter previously whilst Thoughts Of June was a pillar to post winner in the Cheshire Oaks but will find it harder to dominate here.
Of the others, Tranquil Lady won a Group 3 last time but was behind Concert Hall previous to that so has plenty to find whilst With The Moonlight won the Pretty Polly in fine style but has also finished behind another of today’s rivals, Kawida, twice & yet the latter named is 4 times the price. The least experienced of the field is Rogue Millennium & she is 2 from 2 having won the Lingfield Oaks Trial last time up.
The one I haven’t mentioned is the one I’m risking & that’s the Ralph Beckett trained Moon De Vega. The trainer has an excellent record in this race & despite the selection only being rated 95, she’s surely much much better than that & I can see her getting in amongst the more fancied runners today. She’s a horse I backed on her last run when only 4th in Cheshire Oaks & here’s what I said then:
“On her first 2 starts, she was slow from the gates & stayed on both times to finish 5th over an inadequate mile trip. However, last time out on her most recent start, she broke well, edging out subsequent winner Suffrajet by half a length, the pair coming almost 3 lengths of the third horse home. A couple of things were noticeable that day; firstly, she was headed but battled back really well to get up close home & secondly, she was very strong through the line suggesting this step up in trip will bring around improvement.”
As for her Cheshire Oaks run, she was 6 lengths back in 4th but could be considered a very unlucky loser. She travelled as well as any & was bang in contention before getting stuck behind weakening runners. By the time she got out, she was at least 6 lengths behind the front 2 but stuck on well down the outside, losing no ground at all despite not being given a hard time. Given the winner that day is less than half the price of the selection, I think we are siding with the value. It’s also worth noting that the 2nd has since gone on to win a Group 1 in France, giving the form a solid look to it. The trip shouldn’t be an issue & I like comments coming from connections that she’s a well balanced filly so the track shouldn’t inconvenience. I still think Emily Upjohn is the best horse in the race but beyond that, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot in it so, at 33/1 (or 20/1 without the favourite), the selection rates a good each way bet.
Back Moon De Vega (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 34.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
Back Moon De Vega (e/w) in the ‘without Emily Upjohn’ market for a 0.75/10 stake at 21.00 Bet365 (⅕ odds 1-3)