Buick can win his first Classic on Gertrude Bell
William Buick is in his first season as the retained jockey for John Gosden and what a season it has already been for the 21-year-old. Buick has won 25 races this season including the illustrious Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan back in March.
In just 11 races at Epsom he has ridden two winners which gives him a respectable 18% strike rate and with Gertrude Bell his ride in the Oaks he has a great chance to improve to 3-12.
Gertrude Bell is 14/1 to score in the fillies' classic. The three-year-old has never finished outside the top three in her five career starts. She has also won her last two starts - a class four at Newbury in April and then the Cheshire Oaks at Chester in May.
The latter victory may not have been against the strongest of fields with 20/1 Oaks shot Champagnelifestyle ¾ a length behind in second. However, John Gosden's charge has the ability to improve at Epsom and should have no trouble in lasting the extra distance as she is the half-sister of a 2m winner.
Therefore at the price I think she is worth taking a chance on.
At the head of the market is Henry Cecil's Aviate (11/2). She won the Musidora Stakes at York and is unbeaten over three starts.
Aviate will look to follow up Sariska's Musidora/Oaks double from last year but doubts remain about the strength of this year's Musidora.
Nevertheless Cecil has said that she "has done everything right" in her preparation as he bids to win the Oaks for a ninth time.
Cecil's chances of a ninth success do not just rest with the favourite though as he also has Timepiece (8/1) in the field.
Timepiece will be ridden by Eddie Ahern and despite two defeats in prep races the jockey is confident of the filly's ability. One of the defeats was in the Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield when she was sent off as the 4/7 jolly but could only finish second.
Another Oaks runner, Ceilidh House, finished third in the same race. Ralph Beckett said before the Trial that she would come on for the race and one has to respect this judgement but with no further races to base this assessment on it could be a bit of a gamble at the odds of 12/1.
In Timepiece's other prep race defeat it was Oaks' second favourite Rumoush (6/1)who triumphed in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket. Timepiece was back in fourth as the Marcus Tregoning-trained Oaks fancy was victorious.
However, in her next outing Rumoush was a disappointing seventh in the 1000 Guineas. She was expected to progress after the run but with the yard out of form then the Oaks may be out of reach.
The big danger in the field could well be Sajjhaa (6/1). With the withdrawal of Godolphin's Hibaayeb it has left Frankie Dettori free to pick up the ride on the Michael Jarvis-trained filly.
Sajjhaa has been heavily backed in to claim the Oaks despite only having one race under her belt, albeit it was an ultra-impressive seven-length victory on 20th May at Sandown.
The Oaks though may come a bit too quickly for her as the step up in class is huge but she might just be able to handle it.
Another one who has been well backed ante-post is Akdarena (15/2). She has won her last two starts - a Group 3 last time out at Naas and a listed affair the race before at Navan.
The race at Naas was won in emphatic style and gives Jim Bolger real hope of his first Oaks success since Jet Ski Lady in 1991.
Aidan O'Brien's runners of course can never be ruled out of these massive races and it is Remember When (8/1) who carries the main hope of success for the Ballydoyle team.
Stable jockey Johnny Murtagh is unsurprisingly on board the Irish 1000 Guineas fourth. In being a three-parts sister to Dylan Thomas she has promise but she is not for me in the Epsom Classic.
Ed Dunlop's Snow Fairy (14/1) will have the champion jockey Ryan Moore on board and has been highlighted by Henry Cecil as one of the runners he respects.
In her one race this season, a listed 1m2f affair at Goodwood on 19th May, she emerged victorious despite never having raced beyond 7f as a juvenile. As a result despite Cecil's respect, the extra 2f at Epsom could prove to be a problem.
Of the bigger priced runners Meeznah (33/1) is the one that stands out as David Lanigan saddles his first Classic runner.
The former assistant to Cecil has plenty of experience of Classics and has been bigging up his filly's chances despite her price.
Meeznah impressed with a nine-length win in a maiden at Newmarket before an injury curtailed her Epsom preparations as she had to miss a planned trial race. So the doubt over her is whether she is ready for the big day?
I know I most certainly am and my money, despite the high-class field, will definitely be going on Gertrude Bell as future star Buick seeks his first English Classic.