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Oaks preview

It's Classic weekend at Epsom and as always, the fillies' version takes place on the Friday. The fun and games of this meeting will be how to keep out the deluded twats from Animal Rising, who freely admit to wanting to see the thoroughbred breed made extinct.

"I have no doubt pretty much everyone who works in the industry loves the horses,"

"Thoroughbreds are beautiful creatures, but we can't escape the base point that the very reason they exist is fundamentally unethical. There is a future where perhaps the thoroughbred isn't around, but we have wild horses whose beauty we can love and appreciate in the countryside and forests."

They share the air we breathe...

Anyway enough oxygen wasting, let's get onto the real action.


Betfred Oaks 2023
Epsom, 1m4f, Group 1, £550k
Friday 1630 BST
Expected Going - Good/Good to Firm

Be Happy - sat up on the lead in the Lingfield Oaks Trial which was run on the synthetic tracks rather than the turf this season. She wobbled off the bend that day and was outpaced in the end by Eternal Hope, who parked on her back and kicked on in the straight. Had every chance there and would need a big step forward to win this, but that has happened before for this stable.

Bright Diamond - ran fifth behind Eternal Hope and Be Happy in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, staying on nicely off a slow pace. She didn't really quicken but showed she is capable of still being there at the finish over this trip, a handy asset when the pressure is on at Epsom. Has always shaped like a stayer, it's up to jockey Clifford Lee to put her into the race a bit earlier rather than plodding on for a nice fifth.

Caernarfon - ran fourth in the 1000 Guineas, her equal 'worst' performance based on finishing places, she always seems to be in the frame although that was her first run at Group level. She kept on well at Newmarket, finishing ahead of Meditate who ran second last weekend in the Irish 1000 Guineas. It's a big ask to step up half a mile for her second crack at Group 1 level and she's more exposed than her rivals. Just a dream for connections or is there genuine staying ability within? Will probably see her keeping on for a nice sixth.

Eternal Hope - one of just two runners not to race as a 2yo, she's by Teofilo (sire of two Melbourne Cup winners) and will stay all day, having won already over 1m2f and 1m4f in her three starts. This will be her first run on turf, don't be surprised if she finds a bit extra on the firmer surface. So far she has done all she has been required to do, there may be more in the tank. Might be a little underrated simply because all three runs have been on the AW - it wasn't her fault the Lingfield race was switched away from the sodden grass that week.

Heartache Tonight - interesting runner from the Davide Menuisier stable who has run all her races on softer ground in France. Her half-sister Wonderful Tonight is an absolute mudlark and none of her siblings appear to have won on dry ground (Racing Post coverage of international racing could be improved). At Paris-Longchamp last time, she sat outside the leader in the G1 Prix Saint-Alary and was just plain in the straight, plodding on for fourth. Can't see her improving to win this, whether she handles the good-to-firm ground or not.

Maman Joon - a rather ambitious entry, having raced just once, six weeks ago at Newbury and being beaten almost 10L on soft ground. Very well-bred, by the champion Sea The Stars and her half-brothers Candleford and Atty Persse both won at Royal Ascor over 1m4f, but this is a huge ask at just her second start. More to do with the ownership wanting to be seen here I think.

Red Riding Hood - wore blinkers for the first time in the G3 Blue Wind at Naas when she pulled hard early and eventually tired to run third. Big step up in class here, might be used as stable pacemaker here but being second or third-string for Aidan O'Brien in a 3yo classic has found some big price winners in the past.

Running Lion - by Roaring Lion who struggled to get a mile and a half, as have some of his progeny. But her damsire is Dansili which helps and she has shown no sign of stopping in winning her last four starts, mostly over a mile but won by 4.5L over 1m2f last time. The trainer isn't afraid to switch his Classic hopes to France over a shorter trip so I think you have to trust John Gosden on this one, he's won the race three times in the past decade.

Savethelastdance - Coolmore owned, daughter of Galileo, O'Brien trained, Ryan Moore to ride....oh, and she won by about 100m in the Cheshire Oaks - how much more do you need?? The query is what did she beat at Chester. It was a relatively weak field but she absolutely spanked them. She started 8/11 that day, after winning a Leopardstown maiden at 20/1 (ahead of Boogie Woogie who won a maiden next time but then finished behind Wonderful Tonight in France). So is she suddenly the best filly in Europe? Her two wins have been on wet tracks but on breeding, there should be no issue with a dry track here. Even money? Hmmm.

Sea of Roses - fifth in the Musidora after racing too keenly. Ran second in a G3 at Saint-Cloud in April (soft going) behind a beaten French filly who has an Arc entry. Drawn the prime inside gate. Big price, worth a look each-way.

Soul Sister - beat a decent field in the Musidora at York by 4L, registering a RP rating only topped three previous times. Those behind her boast Group form and the performance rated only 1lb off Savethelastdance at Chester, albeit with that filly's figure needing a fair margin of error (plus or minus) considering the poor form behind her. The Gosden-trained filly relished the dry ground at York after flopping on soft, verging on heavy, going at Newbury, which contributed to her SP of 18/1. Frankie's last chance to win the Oaks, a race he has already won six times.


The favourite could just be something special, Occam's Razor says sometimes it's just that obvious but I have to oppose her at the price. She beat trees last time. In hindsight, she'll either be the best Even money chance you've ever seen or a terrible price. Not to mention the stable will probably truckload it, so the black figures may be long gone. But just four of the stable's 11 Oaks favourites have been successful (probably none as short as this one though).

The EW value here is Eternal Hope. No doubt on her stamina or jockey. One little concern is that Godolphin haven't won this race since 2002, and O'Brien & Gosden have won the last nine between them. But at 12-14/1 EW, it's the place money we want to lock in, with the win payout as the bonus. You might even get four places if you shop around.

BET - Eternal Hope ew at 14/1


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