The Oaks has been won by either Aidan O’Brien or John Gosden every June for the past nine years and it’s long odds-on it will be 10 come tea-time today.
Gosden, now training alongside his son Thady, runs Soul Sister and Running Lion, undisputedly the best of the home contingent on form.
O’Brien fields three, but the one to concentrate on is Savethelastdance, nothing short of sensational when taking last month’s trial, the Cheshire Oaks, by a barely believable margin of 22 lengths.
Savethelastdance is currently trading at 5-4 and those odds would be shorter still if that jaw-dropping performance was taken at absolutely face value by pundits and punters.
Even O’Brien didn’t quite believe it – “it was like an illusion” – and most onlookers assumed it was just a case of her plodding away while others floundered in what was extremely testing Chester ground.
But the sectional times said otherwise and with Savethelastdance from a family that revealed its strongest form on fast surfaces, the master trainer is wondering (though is not entirely convinced) if this daughter of Galileo could be a new superstar.
O’Brien will be happy enough if she can grind out a narrow victory against the Gosden stars.
Soul Sister, who won a much stronger York trial, the Musidora Stakes, in pretty impressive fashion herself, will be Frankie Dettori’s 27th and final Oaks ride.
“She quickened nicely at York and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at the same time,” said the jockey.
“I didn’t ride in the Chester trial, but Savethelastdance brings very good form to the table and of course I’m going to be frightened by her, but we’ll give it a go with Soul Sister.
“To me, there are only three fillies who can win it – Savethelastdance, Running Lion and Soul Sister. The rest have a big gap to breach.”
Running Lion, the mount of Oisin Murphy, looks the value bet at around 6-1. She hasn’t beaten much while running up a four-timer, but has looked ever classier while doing so, giving the impression that there is a lot more under the bonnet when required.
Dettori and the Gosdens are also likely to play a major role in the other Group One on the card, the Coronation Cup.
On this day last year, Emily Upjohn was beaten a nostril in the Oaks after blowing the start and that form looks significantly stronger than Westover’s Derby placing the following afternoon.
With A-listers Hurricane Lane and Point Lonsdale also in the line-up, this promises to be a humdinger, while there has also been money for the German-trained outsider Tunnes.
Epsom tips for Friday
(All odds best available as of 1 June)
- 2pm Haatem 4-1
- 2.35pm All The King’s Men 5-1
- 3.10pm Emily Upjohn (Next Best) 5-2
- 3.45pm Majestic 6-1
- 4.30pm Running Lion (Each-Way) 6-1
- 5.10pm Holguin 11-8
- 5.45pm Clochette (Best Bet) 6-1
Meanwhile, the final field and draw for tomorrow’s Derby were revealed yesterday.
There were no surprise late scratchings, but connections of the 14 that remain were anxious not to be lumbered with stall 2, from where no horse has won the classic since starting gates were introduced in 1967.
Bad luck White Birch?