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Looking for tips of Oaks day at the Epsom Festival? Our team brings you tips and breaking news concerning every race on the card, including the second fillies' Classic of the campaign, the Epsom Oaks.

2018 Epsom Oaks Star Rating Guide

Our expert has taken a look through the ante-post betting for the Epsom Oaks and provided readers with his tips via this star rating guide.

The first day of Epsom’s Derby meeting features the second fillies’ Classic of the season, the Epsom Oaks. First won by Bridget back in 1779, the roll of honour for this 12 furlong contest reads like a who’s who of flat racing, with names like Pretty Polly, Rockfel and Sun Chariot shining brightly on the illustrious list.

Our expert has taken a look through the betting for the 2018 Epsom Oaks and produced this star rating guide – running through the prime challengers in detail and rating their chances of winning out of five stars.

2018 Epsom Oaks Star Rating Guide




Heading into the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas, Jaega was the name on most expert’s lips. Dermot Weld’s filly had looked impressive in previous appearances and went to post as the even money favourite, but she was caught napping in the early stages by Bye Bye Baby and Aidan O’Brien’s front-runner held on to score an excellent Group Three victory.

After a sticky start to her two-year-old career, the Galileo filly showed promise with a victory over future Oh So Sharp winner Altyn Orda at Newmarket, before claiming a Listed prize on her return to Ireland. She’s a fast starter who likes to make the running and her breeding suggests she will stay. Anyone thinking Bye Bye Baby will be used as a mere pacemaker could be in for quite the surprise.

Bye Bye Baby Star Rating ⭐ 4 ⭐

Bye Bye Baby (left) winning the Blandford Stakes at Newmarket last year.



Stablemate, Magic Wand made light-work of her task in the Dee Stakes at Chester, but Forever Together also caught the eye. Donnacha O’Brien found his path to the post blocked by a wall of challengers rounding the final bend, but the Ballydoyle resident stayed on really well down the home straight to finish second.

The fact she’s still a maiden after three career outings has to count against her and it’s highly unlikely she will have caught Magic Wand given a clear path to the post. Yet, the form of her races is very good and she looks to be a strong staying prospect. She has a chance, but an outside one at best.

Forever Together Star Rating ⭐ 3 ⭐


A small, select field went to post in the final recognised Oaks Trial, the Musidora Stakes. It looked for a while like outsider of the group, Dancing Brave Bear would pull off a shock, but it was Give And Take who swooped down the outer to hand the partnership of James Doyle and William Haggas another significant victory.

In truth, that seemed to be a very poor Musidora, despite the handicapper handing the winner a nine pound hike in rating. William Haggas seemed more confident in Give And Take’s staying ability than stablemate Sea Of Class’, but I would be surprised if this daughter of Cityscape could thrust herself into the frame.

Give And Take Star Rating ⭐ 3 ⭐

An action shot as Lah Ti Dar (left) wins at Newmarket.



There was a buzz of excitement at Newbury when this full sister to former Musidora winner, So Mi Dar made her debut and Lah Ti Dar put on a sparkling display to win a maiden by six lengths. A step up in class followed and she faced fast ground for the first time in the Pretty Polly Stakes. Frankie Dettori’s mount handled the tricky Rowley Mile track nicely, drawing clear in the closing stages to win by three lengths.

While her profile and breeding make her an outstanding candidate in the Oaks, there are a few factors putting me off. The form of her maiden looks pretty weak and the runner up during her Listed victory was only rated 102. She looked a little green in the closing stages at Newbury and John Gosden is worried the warm weather in the build-up to Epsom won’t bring out the best in her.

I’m by no means ruling Lah Ti Dar out and I wouldn’t be surprised if she won. I just think there are others in the field who hold greater appeal.

Lah Ti Dar Star Rating ⭐ 4 ⭐


Ryan Moore’s mount was handed a plum draw at Chester and was allowed to claim an unopposed lead. Yet, the way she put the race to bed in a matter of strides and the ease at which she claimed victory in the Cheshire Oaks was mightily impressive. 

Both Moore and O’Brien were confident she would come on from the third-place finish she recorded behind Jaeger on her reappearance and she certainly looked a class above her rivals on the Roodee. Enable won the same race before scooting to victory in the Oaks and she’s one of the few entrants to have proven her staying ability over a-mile-and-a-half.

For me, Magic Wand’s win was the best performance in any of the Oaks Trials and she looks open to further improvement. She could be the best of the Ballydoyle bunch.

Magic Wand Star Rating ⭐ 4.5 ⭐

Ryan Moore guides Magic Wand (centre, orange/blue) to victory in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester.



Following a shock victory over Happily in the Debutante Stakes, many were expecting Magical to kick-on. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, she carried a short price to post on all three of her following juvenile outings, but a runner-up finish in the Moyglare and two fourth places in Group Ones were the best she was able to muster.

Magical ran respectably on her reappearance, finishing fourth on heavy ground over a mile at Longchamp. Aidan O’Brien intimated Ryan Moore is siding with Magical as he decides which Ballydoyle runner to ride. Magical is a classy sort with bags of top-level experience -  I’m just not convinced she’s a stayer or whether she will enjoy firm, fast ground.

Magical Star Rating ⭐ 3.5 ⭐


Clive Cox sent his filly into battle in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield on the back of a solitary two-year-old victory. Adam Kirby held his mount up near the rear of the field, but she responded to his urging – which were lessened due to the fact he dropped his whip a furlong from home – very nicely, picking off the leaders to claim victory by over a length.

It’s hard to say whether the Oaks Trial at Lingfield was of a particularly high standard. Yet, Perfect Clarity ran out a worthy winner, she saw the trip out fairly comfortably and her surprisingly lengthy odds add an extra half-point onto her rating. She could be a huge danger to the places.

Perfect Clarity Star Rating ⭐ 4.5 ⭐

Adam Kirby riding Perfect Clarity during the Breakfast with the Stars morning at Epsom.



Unraced as a two-year-old, Sea Of Class could only finish second on debut, losing out to future Musidora sixth Ceilidhs Dream. Despite that defeat, William Haggas was confident enough to chuck his filly in at Listed level, where she produced a classy performance to comfortably see off Athena and favourite, Crystal Hope to win the Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury.

Left floundering six lengths behind that day was Arcadian Cat, who finished closer to Lah Ti Dar during the Oaks contenders’ maiden win. Sea Of Class is beautifully bred and looks open to progression, but Haggas seems reticent to step her up to 12 furlongs and the shorter, Prix de Diane could be her most likely assignment.

Sea Of Class Star Rating ⭐ 3 ⭐


Following an encouraging debut on the all-weather at Wolverhampton last year, Sun Maiden made her first three-year-old reappearance on turf at Salisbury. Sir Michael Stoute’s filly carried an odds-on price to post, but it was still quite surprising to see Pat Dobbs’ mount demolish the field with a stunning 12 length triumph.

By Frankel and out of Midsummer - who’s sire Kingmambo claimed multiple Group One honours in France - there’s no doubting Sun Maiden is open to plenty of improvement. The jump from Class Five up to Classic company is a gap she won’t be able to bridge, but she’s certainly a filly to track over the coming months.

Sun Maiden Star Rating ⭐ 2.5 ⭐

James Doyle riding Wild Illusion (left, blue) to victory in The Total Prix Marcel Boussac.



Charlie Appleby will have been as shocked as anyone in attendance at Chantilly when Wild Illusion won the Prix Marcel Boussac. James Doyle’s mount was by far the least fancied of the seven entrants, but she was produced perfectly with a furlong to travel and comfortably held off charging favourite Polydream to win.

Wild Illusion then took her rightful place in the 1000 Guineas, where James Doyle bided his time in the midfield after getting off to a reasonable start. Billesdon Brook took the field by surprise as she made her winning move down the outside, but Wild Illusion kept to her task well to pass the post less than three lengths adrift in fourth. 

This daughter of Dubawi has staying written all over her. Her dam, Rumh was a Listed winner over a mile-and-a-quarter and even won the two mile Royal Sussex Handicap at Goodwood. Her dam sire, Monsun was a multiple Group One winner in Germany, specialising over a-mile-and-a-half.

Wild Illusion is a Group One winner, with a strong run in the season’s best race for fillies under her belt. Charlie Appleby is yet to win a Classic, but with this year’s renewal of the Oaks looking as open as any in recent memory, Wild Illusion could have the class to hand her trainer a break-through victory.

Wild Illusion Star Rating ⭐ 5 ⭐

Full Star Rating Guide


⭐ Wild Illusion - 5 ⭐
*
Magic Wand - 4.5
Perfect Clarity - 4.5
*
Bye Bye Baby - 4
Lah Ti Dar - 4
*
Magical - 3.5
*
Forever Together - 3
Give And Take - 3
Sea Of Class 3
*
Sun Maiden - 2.5

The history of the Epsom Oaks

One of the highlights of the Epsom Derby meeting, which takes place over two days in early June; the fillies’ Classic, the Investec Oaks spearheads the opening day of the top-class fixture.

The third of the season’s ‘Classics’ – and the second for fillies only – the race can be considered the middle leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown, which also incorporates the 1000 Guineas and the St Leger. However, very few attempt the feat of winning all three contests.

The race is named after the Earl of Derby's estate ‘The Oaks’ which is situated around four miles to the east of Epsom Downs.  The race came about during a dinner party discussion held at the retreat where e the Earl and his friends planned a sweepstake for three-year-old fillies over a distance of what is now the Oaks distance of one and a half miles.

The Oaks was first run in 1779, one year earlier than the colts’ Classic ‘the Derby’, and the inaugural running of the race was won by Bridget. The race subsequently became one of the Britain’s leading events for three-year olds, retaining the name ‘The Oaks’.

While the Epsom renewal is the jewel in the Oaks Crown, the concept of the race has been copied several times over, with equivalent Oaks races being held in several European and worldwide countries, giving rise to the likes of the Irish Oaks, Preis der Diana (German Oaks), Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and even the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).

There are also Oaks races at a regional level, with the likes of the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock, the Yorkshire Oaks at York, and the Cheshire Oaks at Chester.

Qualify wins the Oaks.

Top Five Epsom Oaks Since 2000

We take a look through the history of the Epsom Oaks and list the best five renewals of this fillies’ Classic since the Millennium.

For the best part of 250 years, the finest fillies in the business have been travelling to Epsom to take part in the Oaks. This historic contest takes place the day before the Epsom Derby and some of the greatest horses ever to step foot on turf have triumphed in the Classic. Two of the most notable winners in the recent history of the Oaks are Pretty Polly and Oh So Sharp, who both won the Oaks and the 2000 Guineas, before beating the colts in the St Leger to claim the Triple Crown.

A strong field look set to line up in this year’s renewal of the Epsom Oaks, all hoping to add their names to the illustrious roll of honour. We’ve taken a look through all of the Oaks since the year 2000 and listed our top five best races.

Top Five Epsom Oaks

5) 2004 – Ouija Board


A small, select field of seven entered the stalls at Epsom in 2004, with Jamie Spencer riding favourite All Too Beautiful for Aidan O’Brien. Keiron Fallon took the ride on Ouija Board for Ed Dunlop, but the duo got off to a slow start and had to bide their time at the rear of the field. 

All Too Beautiful hit the front with three furlongs to travel. She was soon joined by Ouija Board and, with Fallon virtually motionless in the saddle, the pair swept into a commanding lead. Ouija Board surged clear over the final furlong, eventually crossing the line some seven lengths clear of the vanquished favourite.

Ouija Board went on to become one of the best fillies in recent history. Dunlop’s stable star claimed six further Group One in three different continents, winning the Irish Oaks, the Nassau Stakes, the Hong Kong Vase and two Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mares Turf titles to her resume. Ouija Board’s legacy was enforced as a broodmare, when her son, Australia won the Epsom Derby in 2014.

All Too Beautiful scored in the Middleton Stakes on her final career start later that year. Third-placed Punctilious also boosted the Oaks form by winning the Ribblesdale Stakes at at Royal Ascot and claiming an excellent victory in the Yorkshire Oaks during her four-year-old campaign.

4) 2009 – Sariska



Sariska was pushed into favouritism for the Oaks following a comfortable victory in the Musidora Stakes at York. Michael Bell’s favourite wasn’t expected to have everything her own way, with John Gosden’s Rainbow View and Sir Henry Cecil’s Lingfield Trial winner, Midday tipped to mount stiff challenges.

Midday found herself boxed on the inside rail behind a flagging pacesetter, with Sariska travelling beautifully out in the clear. It looked like the favourite was about to open up a commanding lead two furlongs from the line, but Midday battled back valiantly and only a nose split the pair as they passed the winning post.

Sariska went on to win the Irish Oaks and beat Midday again in the Middleton Stakes the following year. Yet, her accomplishments were slightly forgotten as Midday went from strength-to-strength. 

Henry Cecil’s mare became a six-time Group One winner, claiming prestigious prizes like the Yorkshire Oaks, the Filly & Mare Turf title at the Breeders’ Cup, the Nassau Stakes twice and the Grand Prix Vermeille over in France. Midday would go onto become a successful broodmare, spawning Classic Trial winner, Midterm and 2017 Height Of Fashion Stakes victor, Mori.

33/1 shot High Heeled ran on well to claim third and she would later collecting various Listed and Group Three titles. After finishing a well-beaten fifth, The Miniver Rose made amends at Doncaster later in the season, claiming a narrow victory in the Group Two Park Hill Stakes. 

Rainbow View had to settle for fourth at Epsom, but she scored in that season’s Group One Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, before scooping a valuable prize in a Group Three handicap in America the following year.

3) 2008 – Look Here



The 2008 Epsom Oaks will be remembered as one of the most surprising in recent history, with 33/1 and 25/1 outsiders filling the first two places. After coming home second behind Miracle Seeker in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield, few gave Ralph Becket’s Look Here much of a sniff, but Seb Sanders’ mount hit the front with two furlongs to travel and stretched away from Moonstone in the closing stages to claim a deserved victory.

While the winner could never reproduce that stunning performance, Moonstone returned to Ireland to win the Irish Derby and has since produced two Group race winners for Aidan O’Brien, Nelson and US Army Ranger. Third-placed Katiyra caught the eye at Epsom and John Oxx’s charge made a winning return to Irish soil by scoring in the Group Two Blandford Stakes later in the year.

The beaten favourite in that year’s Oaks was Lush Lashes, who couldn’t match Look Here for pace in and faded to eventually finish fifth. Jim Bolger’s filly bounced back in excellent fashion by winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, before going on to claim two further Group Ones in the Yorkshire Oaks and the Matron Stakes. 

John Gosden’s Michita won the Ribblesdale at Ascot after being beaten by 15 lengths in the Oaks. Chinese White also went on to boost Look Here’s Epsom triumph by claiming various Listed and Grouped title back home in Ireland, ending her career with a superb victory in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes in 2010.

2) 2010 – Snow Fairy



Entering the final three furlongs, Meznaah and Remember When looked set for a titanic tussle for the Oaks crown. Suddenly, Snow Fairy’s yellow and red silks burst onto the scene, weaving a path onto the inside rail before staying on valiantly to claim a stunning victory at Epsom Downs.

Ed Dunlop only handed his filly a supplementary entry into the Oaks after watching her win the Height Of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood. She went on to repay her trainers faith ten-fold, claiming a stunning eight length victory in the Irish Oaks on her following start, before collecting three further Group Ones out in Asia. Snow Fairy saved one of her best performances for the final start of her career, beating Nathaniel and Sir Nicholas Abbey to the Irish Champion Stakes crown at Leopardstown in 2012.

Remember When was promoted to second after runner-up Meznaah was disqualified, with Rumoush being bumped up into third. Both failed to pull up any trees during the rest of their careers, but they have gone on to enjoy successful lives as broodmares, with Remember When mothering future Group Two winner, Wedding Vow and 2018 Epsom Oaks entrant, Bye Bye Baby.

Gertrude Bell passed the post fifth in the Oaks and she went on to score in the Lancashire equivalent at York. Beaten favourite Aviate enjoyed some international success out in America, with final finisher Sajjhaa going onto claim multiple Group One honours during her stint in Dubai.

Outside of the worthy winner, the 2010 entrant to enjoy the most success in subsequent seasons was Timepiece. Despite finishing a 14-length eighth at Epsom, Sir Henry Cecil’s filly claimed three Listed titles before snatching a surprise victory in the Falmouth Stakes, holding off a talented field to claim a maiden Group One shouldering odds of 16/1.

1) 2007 – Light Shift




All eyes were on Passage Of Time leading up to the 2007 Oaks, with Henry Cecil’s filly carrying a short price to post. However, it was stablemate Light Shift who stole the headlines. Ted Durcan ushered his mount to the front with three furlongs to go, holding off a spirited challenge from Aidan O’Brien’s Peeping Fawn to hand Sir Henry Cecil the last of his eight Epsom Oaks triumphs.

After falling to a narrow defeat on the Downs, Peeping Fawn turned the tables on Light Shift in the Irish Oaks, streaking clear to win by three lengths. O’Brien’s filly then ended her time on the track with two further Group One wins, scoring in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood before romping to an excellent victory in the Yorkshire Oaks later in the summer.

Third placed All My Loving and beaten favourite, Passage Of Time went on to hit the frame in a few more top level races. Four Sins won a Group Two at the Curragh later in her three-year-old campaign, with seventh placed Simply Perfect snatching a surprise victory in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July Meeting.

What makes the 2007 Epsom Oaks stand out is the contribution it’s entrants made to the sport after their retirement. Night Shift’s second colt by Galileo was Ulysses, who won the Coral-Eclipse and the Juddmonte International Stakes before finishing third in the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Peeping Fawn has mothered three winners, the most notable of which being 2017 Chesham Stakes winner, September.

All My Loving produced Thomas Chippendale, who scored in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012. Dalvina spawned 2017 Grand Cup Stakes winner Dal Harraild, while Passage Of Time produced Time Test, who won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes and the York Stakes for Roger Charlton in 2016.

Past Winners

The Oaks has enjoyed a long and successful history, throwing up top class winners down through the years with recent big names including Taghrooda, Snow Fary, Ouija Board, User Friendly, Unite and Oh So Sharp from the 1980s to the present day.

Further back in time, the names of Sweet Solera, Musidora, Sun Chariot, Pretty Polly and Rockfel  are just a few of the big names who feature on an illustrious roll-of-honour.

The leading trainer in Oaks history is the late Robert Robon, who saddled an impressive tally of 13 winners between 1802 and 1825; while the most successful trainer in recent history is the late Sir Henry Cecil, who won the race eight times in his career, saddling the likes of Oh So Sharp, Diminuendo, Snow Bride and latterly Light Shift, who gave the trainer his final success in the race in 2007.

The 2014 renewal of The Oaks was named after the legendary trainer following his death in 2013; with the race being won by John Gosden’s Taghrooda.

1988 Epsom Oaks

The Field

Contested by the best fillies across the UK, Ireland and France, the race can occasionally draw runners from further afield and raiders from countries such as Germany and Italy have descended on Epsom to mount their challenge for the premier fillies’ test.

Aidan O’Brien, Andre Fabre, Alain Du Royer Dupre, Dermot Weld and Christian Von Der Recke are some of the trainers who traditionally send runners into the Oaks field, and both Aidan O’Brien and Andre Fabre have each won the race in the past.

The Course

The one and a half mile Epsom course represents a stern challenge for young horses, and its undulations have notoriously caught out many a runner in the Oaks.  The course provides a unique test that is unrivalled and unmatched anywhere else, with runners racing uphill from the stalls until sweeping down and around the famous Tattenham Corner into the unevenly cambered straight.

Epsom.

Trial Races & Finding a Winner

There are several early-season Trial races that take place ahead of the main event, with the 1000 Guineas being the leading trial for the race. In recent years, only Kazzia has won both the 1000 Guineas and The Oaks, achieving the feat in 2002; although Legatissimo went close to doing so in 2015.

In addition to the 1000 Guineas, other trials for The Oaks include the Fred Darling Stakes, The Pretty Polly Stakes, , the Cheshire Oaks, the Musidora Stakes and the Lingfield Oaks Trial. It isn’t mandatory though for a horse to have to have had a run in an Oaks trial prior to Epsom.

Given the demands of the race, it can often prove wise to concentrate on runners who have proven themselves over ten furlongs or further, and who have experience of tight tracks and undulations. Lingfield is perhaps the closest course in make-up to Epsom, where the turf course has an undulating, cambered terrain with a sharp downhill turn into the home straight.

The Meeting

Taking place over two days, the meeting starts on the first Friday in June with Investec Oaks day, and twenty-four hours later, the colts’ Classic – the Investec Derby – goes to post. 

Whatever the weather, although many hope for warm sun given the time of year, the fashionistas will be out in force to add a touch of glamour to the off-course spectacle and the two-day fixture is one to look forward to.

Racegoers can enjoy a picnic on the downs inside the racecourse and watch as the action unfolds around Tattenham Corner; while the electric atmosphere from the stands is something to savour.

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