The Duke – Oaks Preview

The Oaks is the second oldest English Classic race, after the St Leger and is older than The Derby by a year. It is the complete test of a thoroughbred three year old filly. In the past it was a contest that Sir Henry Cecil dominated, training eight winners of the race. The rich history of Epsom is not lost on those aiming for Classic glory this week.

More than half the field are trained by Aidan O’Brien, with five of the nine part of the Ballydoyle contingent. On that basis then it’s perhaps a little surprising that one of them isn’t favourite for this. That honour goes to Wild Illusion, for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin. She won the Prix Marcel Boussac in France last season before a very decent fourth in the 1000 Guineas. The step up in trip could well be in her favour and she’s only had four runs to date giving her an opportunity for improvement.

Perfect Clarity won the Oaks Trial at Lingfield but would probably need to improve a stone to win this (although that’s not impossible as she’s only had two races in her career). Give And Take showed a good attitude to land the Musidora Stakes at York, improving for every yard, so I think she could be a bit of value for the each-way at double figure odds. Meanwhile, Ejtyah is unexposed but hard to be confident in given she was turned over last time.

Let’s look to the O’Brien runners and as we have seen at Epsom before, it isn’t always the first string that wins.

Bye Bye Baby looks quite exposed and while experience is sometimes an advantage, her official rating is consistently around 105, which isn’t good enough for this race. Flattering is by Galileo and would certainly look the type on paper but she was beaten at Lingfield when starting as favourite, so has to leave that behind her. I Can Fly has not been good enough so far and would need a lot more than she has shown, which is also true of Forever Together who hasn’t won in three starts.

The most likely winner from the O’Brien team in my book is Magic Wand, the Cheshire Oaks winner. She made all and won comfortably, plus she handled the tricky nature of the Chester track. I think she has plenty more to offer, although she will need more to beat Wild Illusion. For me it is between those two for the win and as Magic Wand is nearly double the price she looks the one to side with.

Pick – Magic Wand
Each-Way – Give And Take

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