Liber Nauticus produced a performance full of potential when landing a Goodwood maiden on his sole start as a juvenile and Sir Michael Stoute's filly was instantly slashed for the 2013 Epsom Oaks, as she looks to hand the Freemasons Lodge handler another Classic success.
She may lack the experience heading into the 2013 season, but nuances about her form in train have all been positive and if she can improve as the race approaches then she has to warrant respect in what is sure to be a cracking renewal of the Group One.
In a betting market that will fluctuate in the coming weeks Aidan O'Brien is sure to have a strong team lining up and Moth was a solid winner of a maiden in April and stayed on in the closing stages of the 1000 Guineas and will be one of a number of potential Ballydoyle runners, as they aim to emulate Was, who won it for the Irish team 12 months ago.
Others that feature prominently include Just The Judge and Secret Gesture who could be both handed a tilt at the legendary race, but the betting has a vague look to it at the moment in what will be a superb event come the Epsom Derby meeting at the end of May and into early June.
7/2 Secret Gesture
4/1 Liber Nauticus
16/1 Big Break
25/1 Lady Nouf
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The Oaks at Epsom is the fillies equivalent of the Epsom Derby, it is open to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies and run over the 1 mile 4 furlongs trip of the more famous Derby for the colts. What many don’t know is that the Oaks was actually first run a year before the Derby at Epsom in 1779, when it was won by a filly called Bridget who was owned by the 12th Earl Of Derby who was the man behind the race in the first place. The Oaks is of course one of the British Classic races and is one just of two reserved for the fillies with the 1000 Guineas being the other, so it is sure to attract a stellar list of entries each flat season.
Epsom is a very demanding race course for the fillies and any horse wanting to feature in the Oaks will need to cope with the undulations and stamina test on offer, it is not just a question of the quickest but the runner who acts at Epsom the best as well as showing the turn of foot needed. The horse that on paper has doubt with those conditions best of all was Intrepidity who won in 1993 in record time of 2:34:19, it is a time that many have come close to but none have so far have surpassed and the Andre Fabre trained horse remains top of the tree.
There are a number of trainers with great record in the Oaks but perhaps the most famous in the modern era is the great Henry Cecil, he is one of the most trainers still in the game and he has saddled the winner of no less than eight Oaks from Oh So Sharp in 1985 to Light Shift in 2007. A Cecil horse is always worth following in the betting and no one would be surprised to see him add to his tally in the Oaks over the coming few years. He knows what type of horse runs well at Epsom and he always has them in top shape for the big race so he really can be called at Oaks legend.
Over the past few years we have seen a number of the Oaks winners go on to bigger and better things with huge wins around the world, trainer Ed Dunlop has done it twice since the turn of the century with Ouija Board in 2004 and most recently with the excellent Snow Fairy in 2010. Ouija Board went on to become a Breeders Cup winner while Snow Fairy has won prestigious races in both Japan and Hong Kong following her success in the Oaks, this highlights that the Epsom Oaks really can be the start of a glittering season for a three-year-old filly.
Recent Winners of the Epsom Oaks