A field of 14, the highest number in the last five years, is set to go to post in the £525,000 G1 Investec Oaks (4.30pm), the premier fillies’ Classic and highlight of a fabulous Investec Ladies’ Day at Epsom Downs on Friday, 31st May.
Staged over the same one mile, four furlongs and six yards as the Investec Derby, the Investec Oaks is one of two G1 contests on Investec Ladies’ Day alongside the G1 Investec Coronation Cup (3.10pm, 10 runners) for older horses. Both the Investec Oaks and Investec Coronation Cup are part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.
Ireland’s 21-times champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is the most successful current trainer in the Investec Oaks with seven victories, most recently Forever Together 12 months’ ago. His four 2019 runners are headed by Pink Dogwood (Ryan Moore), a full-sister to last year’s Irish Derby victor Latrobe and the ready winner of the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan on April 28. The Camelot filly is 2/1 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Also representing Ballydoyle are Fleeting (Wayne Lordan, 40/1), winner of the G2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster last season, but disappointing on her seasonal reappearance in the mile Newmarket Classic, the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas, Listed winner Peach Tree (Donnacha O’Brien, 50/1) and Delphinia (Seamie Heffernan, 50/1). Delphinia and Peach Tree were last seen out in the G3 Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on May 11 when third and fourth respectively behind the Aga Khan’s homebred Tarnawa (Dermot Weld/Chris Hayes, 25/1).
Frankel filly Mehdaayih (John Gosden/Rab Havlin, 11/4) was supplemented for the Investec Oaks on Saturday (May 25) at a cost of £30,000 following a very impressive four and a half-length victory over Manuela De Vega (Ralph Beckett/Harry Bentley, 10/1) in the Listed Cheshire Oaks at Chester on May 8.
Newmarket-based Gosden, the reigning champion Flat trainer in Britain, is seeking a third Investec Oaks success, following on from Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017). His other representative in 2019 is another Frankel filly, Anapurna (Frankie Dettori, 4/1), impressive when landing the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield Park on May 11 by six lengths from Tauteke(Roger Varian/Andrea Atzeni, 50/1).
Hamdan Al Maktoum has seen his famous silks carried to success in the Investec Oaks on three occasions, thanks to Salsabil (1990), Eswarah (2005) and Taghrooda (2014). He has a strong contender this year with Maqsad (William Haggas/Jim Crowley, 7/1).
The Siyouni filly, who shaped with promise in two outings last year, has won on both her two 2019 outing, following up victory in a mile maiden at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting in April with a smooth five-length success in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes over 10 furlongs at the same venue on May 5.
Angus Gold, racing manager to Hamdan Al Maktoum, reported today: “Maqsad is in good form.
“She has improved an awful lot this season and was very impressive when winning the Pretty Polly. She is a classy filly and hopefully she stays the trip and handles the track at Epsom.
“On pedigree, she is not guaranteed to stay, but we are looking forward to seeing how she gets on. It is great to have a live chance in the Oaks.”
Newmarket-based Haggas, who won the Investec Oaks with Dancing Rain in 2011, also runs the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned and bred Frankellina (James Doyle, 14/1), runner-up in the G3 Musidora Stakes at York on May 15.
Benny Andersson of ABBA will be represented as an owner on Friday by Lavender’s Blue (Amanda Perrett/Silvestre de Sousa, 16/1). The Sea The Stars filly went down by a neck to Queen Power in the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury on May 18, having won on debut at Newmarket in April.
She is out of Andersson’s Beatrice Aurore, a G3 winner who finished sixth in the 2011 Investec Oaks.
Completing the field for the 2019 Investec Oaks are Musidora Stakes fifth Blue Gardenia (David O’Meara/Jamie Spencer, 100/1) and Sh Boom (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Tom Queally, 100/1), who was sixth in the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes.
Investec Oaks, Unibet odds:
2/1 Pink Dogwood; 11/4 Mehdaayih; 4/1 Anapurna; 7/1 Maqsad; 10/1 Manuela De Vega; 14/1 Frankellina; 16/1 Lavender's Blue; 25/1 Tarnawa; 40/1 Fleeting; 50/1 Delphinia, Peach Tree, Tauteke; 100/1 Blue Gardenia, Sh Boom
Each-Way: 1/5 - 1, 2, 3
Kew Gardens and Lah Ti Dar meet again in G1 Investec Coronation Cup
The first and second from last year’s final Classic, the G1 St Leger, Kew Gardens (Ryan Moore) and Lah Ti Dar (Frankie Dettori), headline 10 older horses going for glory in the £445,000 G1 Investec Coronation Cup, also staged over one mile, four furlongs and six yards.
Kew Gardens, the 2/1 favourite with Unibet, is out to give trainer Aidan O’Brien a ninth Investec Coronation Cup victory. The four-year-old, who also captured the G1 Grand Prix de Paris over this distance in July, finished second under a penalty to wide margin winner Morando (Andrew Balding/Silvestre de Sousa, 12/1 with Unibet) in the G3 Ormonde Stakes at Chester on May 9.
Lah Ti Dar (7/2) is one of two runners for trainer John Gosden and made a successful return against her own sex in the G2 Middleton Stakes at York on May 16. Stablemate Coronet(Olivier Peslier, 14/1), second in three G1 contests in 2018, also runs after finishing fourth behind Communique (Mark Johnston/Franny Norton, 16/1) in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket on May 4.
That was career-best performance from the progressive Communique, who won valuable handicaps at Newbury, Newmarket and Goodwood last summer, as well as the Listed Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket in the autumn.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father Mark, said: “Communique is in good order.
“He is now a G2 winner so options for him are pretty few and far between, and the Investec Coronation Cup was the obvious race to aim at after Newmarket. We are under no illusions that this will be a much tougher task than he faced in the Jockey Club Stakes, but he has earned the right to have a go and we know he will be effective over the trip, track and ground.
“14 months ago, this horse was rated in the low 80s [now 114]. He improved all the way through last year in what was really his first season on the track and the hope this year was that he could establish himself as a consistent Pattern race performer.
“He has perhaps won his G2 a bit quicker than we expected, but you cannot take that away from him and, as a result, he will be campaigned in these kinds of races for the rest of the season.”
Godolphin’s supplementary entry Old Persian (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle, 7/2) has an official rating of 122, 2lb higher than nearest rival Kew Gardens, after an unbeaten campaign in Dubai that culminated with a smooth success in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 30.
Salouen (Sylvester Kirk/Oisin Murphy, 8/1) is aiming to go one better after his agonising head defeat at the hands of Cracksman 12 months ago. The five-year-old looked as good as ever on his 2019 return when taking the Listed Buckhounds Stakes by seven lengths at Ascot on May 11.
Melbourne Cup runner-up Marmelo (Hughie Morrison/Gerald Mosse, 25/1) proved himself just as effective over 12 furlongs with a decisive victory in the G3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury in April.
The line-up is completed by multiple Group race winner Defoe (Roger Varian/Andrea Atzeni, 16/1) and Cypress Creek (Aidan O’Brien IRE/ Donnacha O'Brien, 66/1).
Investec Coronation Cup – Unibet odds: 2/1 Kew Gardens; 7/2 Old Persian, Lah Ti Dar; 8/1 Salouen; 12/1 Morando; 14/1 Coronet; 16/1 Communique, Defoe; 25/1 Marmelo; 66/1 Cypress Creek
The terrific seven-race programme at Epsom Downs on Investec Ladies’ Day runs from 2.00pm through to 5.50pm.
About Epsom Downs Racecourse & the Investec Derby Festival
Epsom Downs Racecourse is situated on the North Downs in Surrey, some 15 miles from central London. Epsom is a historic training centre and home to a number of racing stables. The racecourse is the venue for the Greatest Flat Race in the World, the Group One Investec Derby, run for the 240th time in 2019, which takes place on the first Saturday in June and is Britain's richest race. The Investec Derby Festival also features the Investec Oaks and the Investec Coronation Cup, both also run over the Derby course of one mile and four furlongs for three-year-old fillies and older horses respectively, on Investec Ladies' Day. The Investec Derby and Investec Oaks, two of the five British Classics, are for three-year-olds, with the former open to colts and fillies and the latter to fillies.