It’s a big classic weekend in England the Epsom Oaks on Friday and The Derby on Saturday.

Investec Oaks (Group 1) (3yo Fillies) 1m 4f 10y; Track Good (4.05 p.m. GMT)

The Oaks is competitive on paper with 14 lightly-raced fillies declared.  The ante-post favourite has long been Aidan O’Brien’s Maybe ever since she won the Group 1 Moyglare Stakes at the Curragh as a 2yo.  She was a shade disappointing in the 2,000 Guineas on reappearance but surely needed the race.  The problem with Maybe is that, maybe, she doesn’t stay the trip being out of a dam who was an out and out sprinter.  Also, it’s not very comforting to favourite backers that O’Brien starts 6 in the race which isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the favourite.  Even though his son, Joseph, has kept the faith, at the prices, Maybe must be opposed.  A little known bit of Oaks trivia is that, since Godolphin’s Kazzia won in 2002, no Oaks winner has been a previous winner of a Group 1 race.

Of the other Obrien horses, Kissed, to be ridden by Ryan Moore, seems best.  She is bred to relish this idiosyncratic course being by Derby winner Galileo out of a half sister to Derby winner Pour Moi.  She very much fits the profile of an Oaks winner who tends to be a lightly raced sort who improves by leaps and bounds on the day.  She’s highly promising after only 2 runs, winning a listed race by over 8 lengths on last and is sure to show marked improvement again on Friday.  I’m confident that she will finish in front of Maybe but both her wins have come on soft ground and she will be encountering fast for the first time around the unique and weird undulations of this odd track.  In the end, a bit of inexperience could find her out.  Still, she won’t be far away at the end.

2002 Oaks winner Kazzia has a daughter in the field in Godolphin’s Kailani who is unbeaten in two starts including a most impressive 7l win in a listed race at Newmarket on soft ground on May 6.  A changing of the guard has been signalled at Godolphin as young Mikael Barzalona rides while Frankie Dettori watches from the stands.  This will be a big step up for her and the peculiarities of the track on fastish ground might well find her out for inexperience.  Godolphin supplemented her for the race for a substantial fee.

The winner of the Lingfield Oaks trial, Vow, is another likely big improver.  She ran very green at Lingfield on the polytrack where the trial is now dubiously run but she literally bolted away inside the final furlong to prove that the distance will not be a problem.  She’ll come on a ton for that run, is proven on turf (won a maiden on soft at Newbury in April) is very, very dangerous indeed and I will be very surprised if she ends up worse than second.  BIG CHANCE.

But the one firmly set on a path of rapid improvement is John Gosden’s THE FUGUE who couldn’t have been more impressive in winning the Musidora Stakes going away from another O’Brien hot pot Twirl (re-opposes here).  She was another who needed the run in the 1,000 Guineas but was also victimized by the soft ground that day yet she was still 4th, only ¾ length behind Maybe.  She swept by them in the Musidora like they were standing still in the most exciting effort visually from a 3yo filly in years.  She looks like a really good thing.

OAKS SELECTION:   #10   THE FUGUE (Exacta Box with #13          VOW)


Investec Derby (Group 1) (3yo) 1m 4f 10y Good (4.00 p.m. GMT)

Aidan O’Brien’s CAMELOT has been the ante-post favourite for the Derby since hacking up in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy last year.  All he’s done this year is to win the 2,000 Guineas over an inadequate trip on his seasonal reappearance.  He’s nailed on to stay the trip; is top rated; unbeaten; a well balanced type for whom the peculiarities of Epsom should be no problem; and sure to stay the trip.  What more could we ask for?

Nothing.  CAMELOT should win this without turning a hair.  At 4/7, it’s a race to watch rather than bet on but a flutter on a one-way Exacta with Bonfire could prove profitable.


Good Luck!



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