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The flat action comes thick and fast at this time of year and with the three major Guineas, the UK, France and Ireland now behind us we move on to the middle distance stars with the first of the major Oaks’ coming up over a mile-and-a-half at Epsom on Friday.
Trainer John Gosden has won this race three times in recent years including with Anapurna in 2019 and as such it should come as no surprise to see that he has a strong hand this time around.
Emily Upjohn currently heads the market at a best priced 11/10 having followed up a neck victory on the all-weather at Wolverhampton on debut last November with two victories on turf this campaign.
The most recent of those came when delivering an odds-on five-and-a-half-length triumph in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes over an extended mile-and-a-quarter at York. A recognised trial for this event the York feature produced the Oaks winner 12 months ago in the shape of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Snowfall.
Emily Upjohn’s trainer John Gosden had won the Musidora six times prior to this year and while none of his previous winners went on to Epsom glory they did include the likes of The Fugue and So Mi Dar who were middle distance stars in their own right.
Out of the mile-and-a-quarter-winning Barathea mare Hidden Brief and by Derby winner Sea The Stars there’s unlikely to be stamina issues surrounding the current favourite and she looks a leading player at this stage.
Stablemate Nashwa is next in the betting at a generally available 9/2 for Friday’s feature having delivered an odds-on victory in the Listed Haras de Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes over a mile-and-a-quarter at Newbury earlier this month. Racing from off the pace that day the daughter of Frankel delivered a career best effort to take her career record to two wins and a third from three starts. The daughter of Frankel is a half-sister to Louganini who was a winner over the Derby trip at Ascot last May and she is another for whom the trip is unlikely to cause an issue.
While John Gosden has won this race three times since 2014 it’s of note that Ireland’s top trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the race five times in the same time period including the two most recent renewals with Love in 2020 and the previously mentioned Snowfall 12 months ago.
The master of Ballydoyle boasts four of the 12 entries at this stage this time around with Concert Hall the shortest price of the quartet.
Concert Hall (7/1) demonstrated good form at two winning a seven furlong Group 3 event at The Curragh in September and she demonstrated good battling qualities when getting the better of her eight rivals in a Listed race over a mile-and-a-quarter at Navan on her seasonal debut last month.
Out of the 2012 Oaks winner Was a drop to a mile was perhaps not the most obvious move by connections but she appeared to have no real issues with the shorter distance when six lengths third in the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh.
Sire Dubawi has produced plenty of high class performers and while most have come over shorter the stamina on the dams side offers hope with regards to Concert Hall’s chances of staying the Oaks distance.
Tuesday (8/1 best) is another Aidan O’Brien challenger and while she has just a maiden victory over a mile at Naas in March to her name she has finished placed in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish equivalent at The Curragh. Beaten five-and-a-half-lengths into second in the last named of those contests the Galileo filly is out of Lillie Langtry who has produced a number of classy performers including Tuesday’s full-sister Minding who was the winner of this race back in 2016.
While there are no confirmed jockey plans at the time of writing it would come as no surprise to see stable jockey Ryan Moore ride Tuesday on Friday.
A former jockey at Ballydoyle Joseph O’Brien is the only other Irish trainer with a runner engaged in the Oaks with impressive Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes winner Tranquil Lady (14/1) his representative.
Another who will be stepping up in distance Tranquil Lady had no issue with the mile-and-a-quarter distance in the Naas feature and while her trainer is best known for his exploits on the world stage it would come as no surprise to see him register a first Oaks winner as a trainer with the daughter of Australia.
Given the success that they’ve had so far in 2022 it would be remiss to look ahead to a Classic without mentioning the Godolphin challenge and they could be represented by With The Moonlight (8/1), winner of the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket at the start of May on her seasonal reappearance.
The Frankel filly is a full-sister to 2019’s Group 1 Meydan winner Dream Castle with Charlie Appleby’s charges breeding suggesting that she may struggle with the distance at Epsom.
Jockey William Buick knows what it takes to win big races at Epsom having taken the 2018 Derby on Masar and the 2020 Coronation Cup with Ghaiyyath and he will be looking to add a first Oaks success to his glittering resume.
As looked likely Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Rogue Millennium (16/1) has been supplemented to the big race and while she has just the two starts to her name, including that head success at Lingfield Park she comes into this event unbeaten and has all but confirmed her stamina with that victory over an extended one-mile-three-furlongs.
Trainer Tom Clover is looking for his first Oaks success and with local lad Jack Mitchell, whose father Philip trained on the Downs at Epsom for many years booked to ride she would be a popular winner with the locals.