With the dust now settled on the 2022 renewal of the Newmarket Guineas Festival, and with time to reflect on James Doyle’s stunning victories in both the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, attention is quickly turning to the upcoming Derby Festival — as the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse plays host to the next two British Classics of the season — the Oaks and the Derby itself.
All the top trainers and jockeys will be hoping to gain entry to Epsom’s prestigious winners’ enclosure (pictured above) following both the Oaks and the Derby, but as the recent Guineas at Newmarket proved, picking a winner from the racing betting markets ahead of one of the Five Classics is no easy feat.
With that in mind, and the Derby Festival just a matter of weeks away, let’s assess the market for the Oaks — the second-oldest of the five Classics and the middle leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown.
Aidan O’Brien has dominated the one-mile and four furlongs contest in recent years, with six victories in the last decade taking the Irishman’s career tally in the Oaks to a grand total of nine.
O’Brien is out for a hat-trick of successive victories this year, and his best chance appears to be Tuesday, who is the second favorite in the ante-post market.
The three-year-old has won just one of her three races under rules though, which was a Fillies’ Maiden at the Curragh in March, and she will have to show stark improvement after her third-place finish in the 1,000 Guineas at the start of this month.
If there’s one man who knows how to be a thorn in O’Brien’s side when it comes to the Oaks, it’s John Gosden. Now joined by his son Thady, Gosden has won three renewals of the Oaks (2014, 2017, and 2019).
And Emily Upjohn, who is not the ante-post favorite for the Oaks, will be out to land the father/son duo their maiden Classic since they announced their joint-license last year.
The three-year-old is unbeaten in her three appearances to date, winning novice races at Wolverhampton in November and Sandown last month before impressively landing the Group 3 Musidora Stakes at York on May 11th.
With The Moonlight
Defending British flat racing Champion Trainer Charlie Appleby has already tasted Classic success this season, with Coroebus leading home Native Trail for an impressive 1-2 finish in the 2,000 Guineas, and the Godolphin trainer will be hoping for a maiden Oaks victory at Epsom.
The Moulton Paddocks handler’s best chance of winning the Oaks is With The Moonlight, who could prove good value for money at longer odds of 8/1.
The Godolphin horse was a bit of a mixed bag during her two-year-old season, winning two juvenile races in four attempts, but she has shown promise this year with a victory in the recent Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on May 1st.
It will be interesting to see if With The Moonlight is ready to make the step up to a race like the Oaks, but you can never rule out an ApplebyxGodolphin horse — especially when William Buick is in the saddle.