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2019 Epsom Oaks tips – O'Brien filly to paint Epsom Pink after Classic triumph

A fantastic photo of Forever Together (left) winning last year's Oaks at Epsom.

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this fillies Classic and provides readers with his tips for Epsom on Friday 31st May.

Less than a month after the crowds at Newmarket were wowed by the 1000 Guineas, the second Classic of the campaign for fillies hits our screens at Epsom. The Oaks has been an integral part of the British sporting landscape since its creation in 1779, with many of the sports finest fillies adorning the illustrious roll of honour at this iconic venue.

Last year, Aidan O’Brien saddled his seventh Oaks winner – his fourth in the past six years – and he will have high hopes for an eighth triumph when Pink Dogwood (9/2 Betfair) leads the Ballydoyle battalion onto the famous Epsom Downs. 

After impressing over a mile towards the back-end of last year, O’Brien identified the Oaks as this fillies’ target during the off-season. Pink Dogwood needed little encouragement from Ryan Moore to score in her reappearance at Navan, cruising home under a hands-and-heels ride, and it’s easy to see why the bookies make this hardy daughter of Camelot the ante-post favourite.

Stablemate Hermosa would definitely have been pencilled in for the Oaks heading into the 1000 Guineas, where she carried a 14/1 price to post. However, after powering home from the front to win that fabled Classic, O’Brien will likely give her the opportunity to claim the 1000 Guineas double the previous weekend and I doubt she will make the trip to Epsom after appearing at the Curragh.

Even without Hermosa, Pink Dogwood will likely be joined by a couple of her stablemates on the boat over from Ballydoyle. Peach Tree (25/1 William Hill) is yet to run this term, having ended 2018 with a smart Listed success over a mile. She should appreciate the step up in trip, but I doubt whether the team feels she’s up to the standard of some of her stablemates. Likewise Fleeting (33/1 Betfair), who won a weakish Group Two at Doncaster last season and finished last in the Guineas on her reappearance.
I, along with many other experts, fancied Iridessa to run well in the Guineas after finishing third to Lady Kaya on her reappearance. Joseph O’Brien’s charge, surprisingly, failed to get involved at Newmarket, trailing over the line three lengths behind Hermosa in eighth. A step up in trip seemed like it would suit the Fillies' Mile winner last season, but during a spring stable tour, O’Brien Jnr said a mile seems to be Iridessa’s optimum trip and she will probably face off against Hermosa again in the Irish 1000 Guineas instead.

As strange as it sounds, the British entrant who’s placed highest in the current betting doesn’t even hold an entry into the Oaks. Mehdaayih (3/1 Ladbrokes) travelled to Chester on the back of two smart handicap triumphs either side of her winter break. Once the rain softened the track, John Gosden’s filly was backed into favouritism, but even her handler will have been shocked with the fantastic turn of foot Rab Havlin’s mount displayed to put the Cheshire Oaks to bed and she will almost certainly be supplemented into this historic Classic.

Another impressive Trial's winner was Anapurna (6/1 Unibet), who could also represent John Gosden in the Oaks. On her first start on turf, Frankie Dettori's mount made mincemeat of her rivals in the big trial at Lingfield and looks to have plenty of progression left in her locker.

Third behind Mehdaayih in a novice race at Yarmouth last term was Maqsad (7/1 Betfair), who’s shot up the ratings with two impressive victories since then. William Haggas’ filly battled hard to see off a capable rival in Twist ‘N’ Shake on her reappearance, before established herself as an Oaks contender with a superb triumph in the Pretty Polly Stakes on 1000 Guineas day.
Nausha claimed a hard-fought victory in the final Oaks Trial at York last week, holding off Entitle to win the Musidora Stakes. That didn't seem to be a particularly high-quality Oaks Trial, but the one to take out of the race was certainly Frankellina (16/1 William Hill) , who made a very sluggish start on just her second career appearance and made up plenty of ground in the final couple of furlongs to finish third.

Lavender’s Blue (16/1 William Hill) could also appear in the Oaks after just one career start. Unlike Sea Of Faith, Amanda Perrett’s filly got off the mark at the first time of asking, making a nice impression when winning a competitive maiden during the Craven Meeting and this daughter of Sea The Stars is bred to stay further than a mile.

Manuela De Vega's (25/1 Unibet) unbeaten record was broken in the Cheshire Oaks, where Ralph Beckett’s filly was comfortably beaten into second. Mehdaayih was simply too strong in the finish that day and Beckett won't be too discouraged by that performance. Tarnawa (25/1 Betfair) has some smart two-year-old form behind some of Aidan O’Brien’s best fillies and ran nicely in defeat to Pink Dogwood at Navan, so Dermot Weld’s charge is also worth a mention at a lengthy price.

Pink Dogwood (far) gives way as Lily's Candle comes through to win the Prix Marcel Boussac.

Mehdaayih was impressive at Chester and Maqsad has been progressing very nicely this term. However, I’m not sure the form of either of their recent wins is going to hold up particularly well and, heading into the new campaign, my feeling was that the Irish fillies were quite a distance clear of their British counterparts.

With money likely to come for Mehdaayih, and now Anapurna - after Frankie Dettori was confirmed in the saddle. Backing for the John Gosden duo, however, will only make PINK DOGWOOD'S price more appealing and Aidan O'Brien's filly looks the classiest option in a decidedly weak Oaks.

Pink Dogwood outlined her potential as a stayer when cruising to a maiden victory over a mile last season, powering clear of her rivals on unseasonably heavy ground, Ryan Moore then tried to turn the Prix Marcel Boussac into a real test of stamina, but the long-time leader was swamped in the final furlong, eventually crossing the line fifth. The Oaks was identified as her target at the beginning of the season and that looked a wise decision back in April, as Pink Dogwood held Encapsulation and Tarnawa at arm's length under a hands-and-heels ride by Ryan Moore.

There's clearly plenty more to come from this beautifully bred daughter of Camelot. Some would say a horse rated only 104 shouldn't be winning the Oaks, but this Classic was won by a 99-rated maiden last season and Pink Dogwood has plenty more experience than most of her rivals, many of which were unraced or once-raced as a juvenile.

 I think Pink Dogwood will blossom on the downs at Epsom and her current price of 9/2 seems excellent value to me!

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2019 Epsom Oaks tips – O'Brien filly to paint Epsom Pink after Classic triumph

Our expert takes a look through the betting for this fillies Classic and provides readers with his tips for Epsom on Friday 31st May.

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