Epsom Oaks 2017

Spotlight On The 2018 Oaks

The Oaks Stakes is a Group One flat race for three-year-old fillies run over a distance of 1 mile 4 furlongs and 10 yards (2,423 metres) at Epsom Downs in early June. It is one of the five “Classics” run the UK.

The race is named after the Earl of Derby's estate "The Oaks" in Carshalton which is close to Epsom Downs.

At a dinner party held there the Earl and his friends planned a sweepstake for three-year-old fillies over a distance of one and a half miles (2,414 metres) and this was first run the following year 1779 and won by the Earl's own horse Bridget. The race has retained the name ever since.

The race is often referred to as the “Fillies Derby”.

 

Probable Runners:

Charlie Appleby's Wild Illusion is the only Group One winner still in the field, courtesy of her being victorious in the Prix Marcel Boussac last year.

Appleby, who is still without a British Classic winner, believes his 1,000 Guineas fourth will relish the step up to a mile and a half and will arrive at Epsom on Friday at the top of her game.

He said of the Godolphin owned filly: "Wild Illusion has come out of the Guineas well and she has definitely come forward for that run.

"We have always said that we cannot wait to step her up in trip and we feel that is going to be her forte.

"Her dam is a staying mare and Wild Illusion has shown from last year on all indications that going up in trip is going to suit her."

He added: "She is a very straightforward filly – ever since day one she has been. She has raced close to the pace in the past because we always felt she just wants a trip.

"Going the mile and a half, she is versatile and is not keen. I'm sure William (Buick) will work out the pace on the day and decide where he needs to be in the race.

"She has raced twice at Chantilly, right-handed, and is yet to encounter a left-handed course, but I felt she handled the undulations very well at Newmarket – a far cry from Epsom, of course, but even so we have seen plenty of horses caught out in the Dip.

"She has passed that test well and I have not been drawn into thinking that I need to go to Epsom to have a spin around to get experience."

Aidan O'Brien said Ryan Moore will find it hard not to side with Magical in the Oaks on Friday.

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Moore clicked with the Galileo filly last season but he was also quite taken by Cheshire Oaks winner Magic Wand.

O'Brien said: "I suppose Magical was a very highly-rated filly last year and she's a full sister to Rhododendron, but I know Ryan was very happy with the filly he rode in Chester as well.

"It's not going to be an easy one for him, but he's probably going to find it hard to get off Magical.

"But that's not to say that he won't because I know he was very happy with the Chester filly and we were very happy with her also."

O'Brien also runs recent scorer Bye Bye Baby, while Cheshire Oaks runner-up Forever Together and I Can Fly are also in the mix for the Ballydoyle maestro.

With his Lah Ti Dar ruled out on Friday with a setback, William Haggas admits he is tempted to run the impressive Newbury winner Sea Of Class in the race.

Haggas said on Saturday: "The favourite coming out has made us think a bit more. The owner is keen to run and it's very possible she will.

"My gut feeling is it would be the wrong decision, but the owner is very keen to go and there's only one Oaks. It's very tempting."

Haggas’ other runner Give And Take claimed top honours in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York and she definitely lines up on Friday.

Trainer Clive Cox has hailed Perfect Clarity as "the best middle-distance filly I've had anything to do with" in an interview last week.

Cox said: “She did well at Lingfield and the trials are a stepping stone. She is still very much in the early stages of her career.

“It was only her second start and we needn’t have taken a step that bold if we hadn’t had been confident in her ability.

“She had less experience than some of the other runners at Lingfield and the Breakfast With The Stars event was another opportunity to take another small step forward.

“She is a filly that I have enormous confidence in. I think she will really equip herself very well.”

 

888sport Long-Range Selection:

Magical (win).

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*