The third British Classic of the season sees trainer Aidan O’Brien coming with a barrage of fillies’ looking to land The Oaks for the seventh time in his decorated career.
The Ballydoyle supremo has won three of the previous six renewals and he fires five of the nine-runner field at the £283,550 first prize. O’Brien’s charge is headed by Chester winner Magic Wand with Ryan Moore booked to ride but a clash with old foes Godolphin is in store as Wild Illusion tops the betting for the boys in blue.
Favourite Wild Illusion
Group One-winning juvenile in France last season and promising fourth in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on reappearance for trainer Charlie Appleby.
Aidan O’Brien is seeking a seventh Oaks victory and the Ballydoyle maestro is mob-handed with five runners. The pick of them look to be Cheshire Oaks first and second Magic Wand and Together Forever.
The first day of June and we are in for an absolute treat in what looks a wide open renewal of The Oaks at Epsom.
Nine fillies will line up for the third British Classic of the season and while trainer Aidan O’Brien saddles a whopping five of them, he’s unlikely to have the favourite as Charlie Appleby’s Wild Illusion is the market leader.
The daughter of Dubawi was a top-level scorer in France last season as a juvenile when landing the Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly. There was also plenty to admire in her fourth place finish last month in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket behind shock winner Billesdon Brook.
The Godolphin filly promises to be suited by this extra test of stamina and looks worthy of her spot at the front end of the market.
Perfect Clarity won the Lingfield Oaks Trial last time, forging her way to the winning line in a manner that bodes well for this test. She bids to give her trainer Clive Cox his maiden Classic success. Her form commands respect but the current soft going would present the daughter of Nathaniel with a new challenge, and that is not ideal on this grand stage.
The William Haggas-trained Give And Take scored in the Musidora Stakes at York recently and has maintained her level of consistency in each challenge put to her thus far. She potentially needs to improve again on that Knavesmire win but should be capable of doing so over this longer trip.
David Simcock’s Ejtyah, by Frankel, was third behind Give and Take in the Musidora last time, posting an improved effort in the process. This demands another big step forward and may be asking a lot.
And that leaves us with the ‘famous five’ from Ballydoyle to sort out – which remains easier said than done.
Given that Enable won the Cheshire Oaks en route here last summer, we’ll start with the Chester scorer MAGIC WAND.
Ryan Moore rides, which can only be a positive, and her recent success was an eye-catching one. She made all the running and stuck to her task strongly, despite displaying an odd hint of inexperience on just her third start. There will surely be further improvement to come and having handled the Roodee, it bodes well for the camber of Epsom.
She can improve again for her experience there and looks to have plenty potential.
Magic Wand lands the Cheshire Oaks @ChesterRaces and gives Aidan O'Brien a sixth win in the race in the past decade. She's now a general 14-1 for the Investec Oaks at Epsom. Enable did the double last year. #BoodlesMayFest pic.twitter.com/g86FQeC3cV
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) May 9, 2018
Second in that race to the tune of 3½ lengths was Forever Together. Donnacha O’Brien’s filly was denied a clear run at a crucial stage and duly forfeited first run to Magic Wand. With a clearer run here and a longer trip, don’t rule out the prospect of the gap being narrowed significantly.
Next best of the Ballydoyle quintet may be Bye Bye Baby who won a Group 3 at the Curragh last time out can improve again. The field is completed by Flattering – third to Perfect Clarity at Lingfield last time out – and I Can Fly, who misfired in the 1,000 Guineas last month and has some bouncing back to do.
Betting.net Magic Wand
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Betting.net Forever Together
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Written by Enda McElhinney
Enda McElhinney is an Irish-based racing writer with an increasing portfolio of work on British and Irish racing. His daily routine is race-by-race form analysis, both on the Flat and over jumps. While the racing world must keep on turning, he is quite sure that no horse will ever pull at his heartstrings quite as much as the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Denman.