A Look Ahead To The Epsom Oaks

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A LOOK AHEAD TO THE EPSOM OAKS

The Investec Oaks - run on Derby weekend, is a Group One contest on the flat held at Epsom Downs Racecourse specifically designed for three-year-old fillies over the mile-and-a-half distance.

Stepping up from the eight furlong trip from the Guineas meeting in early May, the Oaks forms leg two of the Fillies Triple Crown - followed by the St Leger at Doncaster, where a clash against the opposite sex could be on the cards for some over 1m6f.

Along with the Investec Derby; equivalent for the colts over the same trip, this race encourages a further test on stamina and longevity for the runners involved, half-circling Epsom's jerky, rugged contours and long-looping turn around Tattenham corner.

Run typically on the Friday before the Derby, it is the second-oldest of the five Classic races, after the Doncaster highlight.

The event is named after 'The Oaks', a local estate located to the east of Epsom which was leased to the 12th Earl of Derby in the 18th century.

It was first run in 1779, one year before the introduction of the Derby. The inaugural winner (Bridget), was in fact owned by Lord Derby himself.

The Oaks subsequently became one of Britain's leading events for three-year-olds. By the mid-1860s, the five leading events for this age group were referred to as "Classics" that we know today.

This year's renewal features sixteen fillies still in tact after Monday's declaration stage (27/05), and is currently headed by the favourite Mehdaayih, trained by John Gosden.

Gosden - who has two Oaks wins to his name, runs the daughter of Frankel who recorded a hat-trick of wins with a bloodless display at Chester in a Listed Oaks Trial earlier this month under Robert Havlin.

She would favour a bit of rain, but she did beat Oaks rivals Maqsad - also prominent in the betting, on a good-to-firm surface last October, and will take some beating whatever the going.

Anapurna - stablemate to Mehdaayih, represents another player for Champion Trainer Johnny G.

Two from two in 2019, both of her victories have come at a Surrey venue at Lingfield - one of which was on soft ground on the sole turf appearance.

In that event, she scorched clear in an Oaks Trial over twelve furlongs despite showing early greenness, and impressed by an eight length winning margin.

Meanwhile, there will be a big contingent arriving from Ireland, and Pink Dogwood represents the best of the chances from Aidan O'Brien and the Ballydoyle team, who won the race last year with Forever Together, and saddled the other third, fourth and fifth home.

She is a daughter of Camelot, who won the Derby for the same connections and colours in 2012. The three-year-old looked special at Navan a month ago, and will surely come on from her first run of the season.

The Irish magician also has Fleeting, Peach Tree and Delphinia after dual Guineas winner Hermosa was unsurprisingly left out.

Maqsad already mentioned - beaten by Mehdaayih at Yarmouth in October, has progressed since then with two smart victories at Newmarket for local-based trainer William Haggas.

Her most recent triumph was over ten furlongs on the Rowley Mile in Suffolk, and the step up to mile-and-a-half will really suit her chances. Looking at her pedigree, she has sufficient stamina on the dam side. 

Haggas also has Frankel's girl Frankellina in the field, who finished second at York to Nausha in a Group Three over 1m2f at the Dante meeting at York.

She ran on well in the closing stages, as did Amanda Perrett's Lavender's Blue at Newbury.

A daughter of Sea The Stars, she likewise finished second in a trial at Newbury on her latest start on Lockinge Day, and the booking of Silvestre De Sousa is certainly eyecatching.

Ralph Beckett's Manuela De Vega, Joseph O'Brien's Group One winner Iridessa, and Derby winning trainer Dermot Weld's Tarnawa also remain involved at decent each-way prices, and will look to outrun their odds.

£500,000 up for grabs in the 240th running of the Epsom Investec Oaks, who is your money on?

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