Roy The Boy previews the Oaks and likes Sea of Class after her impressive Newbury win.
Epsom’s Oaks Form Pointers
Big Priced Winners are Commonplace
The Oaks is a favourite’s graveyard. Just two market leaders have prevailed in the last decade and five of the remaining eight ‘jollies’ have failed to make the frame. Only one second fav and a single third favourite have won in the same period.
Big Priced Winners
Qualify was a 50/1 winner for Aidan O’Brien in 2015. There was a trio of 20/1 winners between 2011 and 2013: Was, Talent and Taghrooda. Look Here was a 33/1 poke in 2008.
Aidan O’Brien has won the Epsom Oaks six times. John Gosden, Ed Dunlop and Ralph Beckett have done so twice albeit the latter named pair do not have a runner in the 2018 rendition of the race which dates back to 1779.
Last Timers, Career Starts
Only five of the last 10 Epsom Oaks winners had scored on their previous start. Two had finished second. No Oaks winner was making their seasonal debut.
The form figures of ‘Oaks Trial’ race winners read as follows:
Pretty Polly: 071154
Cheshire Oaks: 004270441
Newbury Fillies Trial: 43309
Look Here finished second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial (back in 2008) before taking the Epsom Oaks but it was 1999 when a horse last won both races. Ultimately it is very hard to pinpoint the definitive ‘best trial’. It is possibly the Pretty Polly with Talent (2013) and Taghrooda (2014) coming from it. But the 1000 Guineas is also a contender giving us Minding in and Kazzia in 2002.
20 horses remain in the Oaks following the most recent forfeit stage. Wild Illusion, a Group 1 winner at two, represents the best of those coming out of the 1000 Guineas. She finished fourth there behind the shock 66/1 winner, Billesdon Brook.
Trainer Charlie Appleby is singing her praises and states she will improve by stepping up four furlongs in trip. He may be right but all but two of the last ten Oaks winners had already raced at 10 furlongs or beyond when lining-up at Epsom.
Sea of Class is prominent in the betting after her victory in the Newbury Oaks trial. That race has not given us an Oaks winner before, however the daughter of Sea The Stars could do no more than win the race she was placed in and her dam has produced four other offspring that have been highly rated staying types.
Forever Together, a maiden, is the shortest priced of the ten O’Brien runners. I’ve gone back over 20 years and I cannot find an Oaks winner that was winning her first ever race in the fillies classic during that period.
Magical is the second best of O’Brien’s runners according to the betting. She has failed to finish in the frame in her last three outings and is another that has not raced beyond a mile to date. With Pivitol in her dam’s line, albeit by Irish 1000 Guineas winner, it is doubtful she will get the trip.
We are left with the race favourite, John Gosden’s impressive Pretty Polly winner Lah Ti Dar. Unquestionably worthy of Oaks favouritism as she has very few negatives. One is the poor record of favourites in the Oaks, the other her breeding: Lah Ti Dar’s dam was a Group 1 winner (fifth in Sea The Stars’ Arc) but her full sister, So Mi Dar, (both by Dubawi) was never tried beyond 1m-2f and looked a dubious stayer at the highest echelon at ten furlongs.
You cannot overlook the real prospect of another kipper winning the Oaks and it would be foolish to back the favourite – because she is favourite and Dubawi offspring rarely stay 12 furlongs well.
So Sea of Class is suggested as an each-way play with Bet365 at 7/1. Trainer William Haggis has won the race before (Dancing Rain in 2011) and his 2018 contender bossed a lot of last time out winners at Newbury. A line through one horse there, Arcadian Cat, actually gives her the beating of La Ti Dar and stamina should not be an issue.
PREVIOUS OAKS WINNERS
YEAR WINNER SP JOCKEY TRAINER
2017 Enable 6/1 L Dettori J Gosden
2016 Minding 10/11F R Moore A O’Brien
2015 Qualify 50/1 S Heffernan A O’Brien
2014 Taghrooda 5/1 P Hanagan J Gosden
2013 Talent 20/1 R Hughes R Beckett
2012 Was 20/1 S Heffernan A O’Brien
2011 Dancing Rain 20/1 J Murtagh W Haggas
2010 Snow Fairy 9/1 R Moore E Dunlop
2009 Sariska 9/4 F J Spencer M Bell
2008 Look Here 33/1 S Sanders R Beckett
2007 Light Shift 13/2 T Durcan H Cecil
2006 Alexandrova 6/4F K Fallon A O’Brien
2005 Eswarah 13/2 R Hills M Jarvis
2004 Ouija Board 11/2 K Fallon J Dunlop
2003 Casual 9/2 M Dwyer A Balding
2002 Kazzia 9/1 F Dettori S Suroor
2001 Imagine 3/1 M Kinane A O’Brien
2000 Love Divine 9/4 R Quinn H Cecil
1999 Ramruma 3/1 K Fallon H Cecil