Time for Midday success
The Michael Bell-trained filly Sariska heads the betting at 5/2 with bookmaker William Hill for Friday's Investec Oaks at Epsom.
This Classic horserace, named after the 12th Earl of Derby's country house, was first run at Epsom in 1799 over 1 1/2 miles.
The Oaks has been won by many great fillies, all possessing that requisite blend of speed and stamina. In the history of the race two of the greatest exponents of these characteristics were Pretty Polly and Petite Etoile.
The former having won the 1,000 Guineas over a mile in 1904 triumphed in the Oaks at a very restrictive 100/8 on. She went on to win the St Leger and the Park Hill Stakes over 1m 6f.
In 1959 Petite Etoile showed such speed in winning the free handicap over 7f and the 1,000 Guineas many thought she would not stay the 1 1/2 miles. However, in the hands of the great Lester Piggott she trotted up by three lengths at a very generous 11/2.
So what of this year's renewal? Well, while there does not appear to be anything of the calibre of the above two in this year's race we can be sure that a high class filly with the necessary blend of speed and stamina will triumph.
Sariska 5/2 is the general bookies' favourite based on her win in the Musidora Stakes over 1m 2f at York. However, the race was slowly run and did develop into something of a sprint. While she did win comfortably it took her some time to get past some more stoutly bred animals. Having said that she could do no more than win and if her stamina holds out she must have a good chance.
The ever popular Henry Cecil is looking for an unbelievable ninth win in the race. His representative Midday 4/1 won the Lingfield Oaks trial comfortably from the fast finishing July Jasmine demonstrating abundant stamina and an ability to come down the hill in the process. She is definitely one for the shortlist.
Three Moons 20/1 trained by Harry Dunlop whose father and brother have both trained the winner is an interesting contender. She was just pipped by Midday as a 2-year-old in a high class Newmarket maiden. She demonstrated that she had trained on when finishing second in the good Oaks trial the Pretty Polly at racing headquarters. At around five times the price of Midday she is perhaps the best outsider.
John Gosden's Rainbow View 10/3 despite disappointing in the 1,000 Guineas remains very prominent in the betting. Her trainer felt she was not suited by the firm ground at Newmarket. Perhaps the step up to 1 1/2 miles will help her cause.
Sir Michael Stoute relies on Phillipina 8/1 and as ever his representative is worth a second look.
My selection for the Investec Oaks is Midday.
What with the Investec Derby on Saturday it promises to be a magnificent few days of racing - how appropriate in the week of the great, late Vincent O'Brien's passing.