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Yorkshire Oaks preview

Thursday's feature race is for the females, a rare Oaks race open to more than just the 3yo fillies. Regular contributor James Jack, @materialista27, attacks the form.

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Darley Yorkshire Oaks
The Yorkshire Oaks is a Group 1 race, run over a mile and a half, and is open to fillies ans mares aged 3 or older.
3yo carry 8st 11lb while 4yo+ carry 9st 7lb.
We have no previous winners in the field, Sir Michael Stoute is the leading trainer in the race, though gladly he doesn't saddle an entrant this year.

1. Bible Belt (4yo)
Fran Berry for Mrs John Harrington
Group 3 winner last summer over 1m1f, and finished a creditable 2nd to Dancing Rain in the BCS Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot last year. Sadly this year has not been so promising, finishing a distant 4th of 5 in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and a poor third in the Ballyroan Stakes less than a fortnight ago. I think she'll run a decent race, but to be in the frame against this opposition, she needs a lot better than decent.
Best Odds: 16/1 (Betfred)

2. Shareta (4yo)
Christophe Lemaitre for Alain De Royer-Dupre
Won a straightforward Group 3 last summer in France and followed that up with 3rd in the Prix Vermeille and 2nd in the Arc beating many a fine horse. However Meandre whom she beat at Longchamp beat her in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in the summer and she flopped on her first overseas trip finishing 7th in the Japan Cup, albeit on firm ground. The jump over the channel should be a bit easier to overcome and if we get the Arc runner up, she's too good for the rest of this field. The Good to Firm ground is a concern as she's never made the frame when firm is in the going description. The other nagging doubt is that older horses haven't been too successful in this race in the past, but she should have the quality to beat the best of what is arguably a poor 3yo crop.
Best Odds: 7/2 (Bet365)

3. Wild Coco (4yo)
Tom Queally for Sir Henry Cecil
Winner of the Lillie Langtry (G3) at Goodwood, she's yet to show she can really compete with the rest of the field. She's seen Good to Firm a couple of times, and clearly doesn't have a problem with the trip, however last time she was seen on the Knavesmire was a disaster finishing nearly 20 lengths behind Set To Music in a Listed contest at last year's Ebor meeting. She fell away towards the end of her 3yo season, so despite an encouraging reappearance, I'm not convinced how progressive she is and this is a big step forward at a ridiculous price so not for me.
Best Odds: 8/1 (Betfred)

4. Coquet (3yo)
Robert Havlin for Hughie Morrison
Won a pair of Listed races at a mile and mile and a quarter, but struggled on the step up to this distance finishing 6th in the Oaks. This looks too far, and against too good a field, I don't give her a chance. I can't see her magically overturning three that finished in front of her in the Oaks, so not for me.
Best Odds: 14/1 (BetVictor)

5. Shirocco Star (3yo)
Richard Hughes for Hughie Morrison
An enigma, 2nd in the Oaks, 2nd in the Irish Oaks. 3rd in the Ribblesdale between those runs, yet hasn't won a race beyond a Class 4 maiden. She has only beaten a short head by The Fugue at Ascot and gave Was a good beating at the Curragh, so why 10/1? Dunno, but I'll have some of it. Richard Hughes on board certainly adds to appeal, and even if she can't compete with The Fugue she has the ability to challenge Shareta for 2nd, and that's good enough for me.
Best Odds: 10/1 (Boylesports)

6. The Fugue (3yo)
William Buick for John Gosden
Unlucky in her pinball race at Epsom, so will be happier with this field and a return to the scene of her glorious Musidora win. She won the Nassau Stakes very well against a class field, and I expect her to frank that dominance on this field. She's beaten each of them she's faced and with doubts over Shareta on ground and travel, this race is her's for the taking. Easily the pick of the field for me, and for once I agree with the bookies on her.
Best Odds: 7/4 (Boylesports)

7. Was (3yo)
Seamie Heffernan for Aidan O'Brien
Sad to say, but looks like a fluke winner of the Oaks, miserable performance in the Irish Oaks and the Nassau. The only shred of comfort Aidan has over her is that Seamie's back on board after Jospeh rode her at the Curragh and Ryan Moore had a go at Goodwood. Sure she won the Oaks and should be respected, but the mess behind her and the fact Shirocco Star has clearly improved while Was has regressed slightly doesn't bode well for this contest. If there had been 8 runners, I may have had a cheeky each way, but I don't think she's better than 5 of these opponents. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I don't see her doing it.
Best Odds: 7/1 (Paddy Power)

ADVICE
2pts EW Shirocco Star @ 10/1
4pt win The Fugue @ 7/4
1pt RFC The Fugue and Shirocco Star
(Place them all with Boylesports)

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