Some ‘Marvellous’ looking prices at Epsom Oaks

With the last three winners of the Epsom Oaks having all returned at 20/1, punters have good reason for licking their lips ahead of Friday’s renewal. In this preview, I’ll look at the best bets on offer.

There are also some solid trends that have proven reliable in finding the Oaks winner and punters may need to digest them ahead of scanning Friday’s runners and runners – for instance, the last 18 Oaks winners all won over 1m-1m3f. Add to that, the fact 16 made the top two of a Pattern event, 16 had 2-7 career runs and 15 arrived via Chester, the Curragh, Goodwood, Newmarket or York, and a short-list starts to emerge.

Amongst that short-list is Aidan O’Brien’s, Irish 1000 Guineas winner, Marvellous, who lines-up as the 11/4 favourite ahead of with John Gosden’s Taghrooda (10/3).

It was only a fortnight ago that Marvellous shot to the head of the betting having come home strongly to win the Guineas at the Curragh (1m, soft) – a performance that left O’Brien eyeing up a crack at Epsom. The money has continued to pour on Marvellous since that emphatic victory, and her breeding suggests that she will improve over this half a mile longer trip, being by Galileo, who of course won the Epsom Derby over 1m4f.

It’s also worth noting that only a handful of fillies attempted the Irish 1,000 Guineas/Epsom Oaks double in the last 20 years, including O’Brien’s, Imagine, who managed to pull of the feat in 2001.

As for Marvellous’ main rival in the market, Taghrooda, then she too has recent history on her side, having won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket a month ago (1m2f, good to firm) – the same race Talent won before victory in last year’s Oaks. Considering the ground was fast enough for Taghrooda at Newmarket, any rain will aid her cause at Epsom, while the 2f longer trip will suit, as her dam was a 1m6f winner.

There is strength in deep beyond the first two in the market, including Dermot Weld’s Tarfasha (7/1), who recorded a massively improved performance on her reappearance at Naas several weeks ago (1m2f, soft). She eased to victory in that Group 3 contest, and Weld stated that better ground and a longer trip would suit.

David Simcock’s Madame Chiang (12/1), is another who lines-up having impressed in winning the Group 3 Musidora Stakes last time (1m2f, soft), though connections stated that soft ground would be important if she is to show her best. As for the Musidora’s record in producing Oaks winners, then of the last 12 to have run at Epsom, two won and six were placed.

But let’s not forget Godolphin’s Ihtimal (8/1), who was third in the English 1,000 Guineas, having previously won a Group 3 by 10l in Dubai (1m2f). Such an easy victory suggests she may not have beaten much, however, and there are no guarantees she’ll stay the extra two furlongs.

Elsewhere, Hughie Morrison’s Marsh Daisy (12/1) won a Listed race at Goodwood a fortnight ago (1m2f, soft) which has pointed up the Oaks winner twice since 2000, while Luca Cumani’s Volume (14/1), also won a Listed race at Newbury last month (1m2f, good).

An absolute cracking renewal of the Oaks looks in store, and one in which both the front two in the market, Marvellous and Taghrooda, have excellent chances. With the forecast rain set to get into the ground ahead of post time, though, Marvellous gets the nod as suitable conditions could well make it a “marvellous” day for punters.
Here are the full trends covering the last 18 winners…
All 18 winners ran during the last two months.
All 18 won over 1m-1m3f – the last filly to get off the mark here was Sun Princess in 1983.
17 were trained in Newmarket or Ireland.
17 were drawn away from the inside or outside stall.
16 made the top two of a Pattern event – 11 won either a Group 1 (3) or Listed race (8).
16 had 2-7 career runs – the two exceptions that raced more often as juveniles were Aidan O’Brien’s.
15 arrived via Chester, the Curragh, Goodwood, Newmarket or York.
15 made the top two last time – 12 won – while the two exceptions ran in a Guineas. Kazzia did the Classic double following the 1,000 Guineas, while Imagine won the Irish version earlier, and those with form in either Guineas are respected. The Lingfield Oaks Trial provided three winners, while the Musidora & Height of Fashion Stakes (formerly Lupe) found two.
Aidan O’Brien trained three winners, with Ralph Beckett and Ed Dunlop apiece.