Ralph Beckett looks to have strong claims of landing the Oaks with impressive Lingfield Trial winner Secret Gesture and in Talent he may have another charge capable of making an impact on the medal positions at Epsom.
Given the form of her rivals in the Lingfield contest that her trainer’s Look Here could only finish second in en route to landing the Epsom Classic in 2008, Secret Gesture – 2/1 favourite for this year’s Oaks – had to win well in order to enhance her reputation and that’s precisely what she did, slamming her rivals by 10 lengths without breaking sweat.
Whilst such a facile victory raised question marks over the abilities of her opponents, the second Miss You Too had an official rating of 93 going into the contest. Furthermore, Whippy Cream – 11-and-a half lengths back in third at Lingfield – was a four-and-three-quarter-length third in the Group 2 Italian Oaks on her next run meaning the form can’t be that bad.
Liber Nauticus’ Musidora win at York only accounted for one rival rated higher than Miss You Too, so it’s difficult to consider the form of Secret Gesture’s Lingfield success that inferior.
Beckett’s market leader has a fine middle-distance pedigree, being out of Galileo by a Danehill mare – the latter sire having produced Dylan Thomas – and her Lingfield performance had the kind of X-factor that would have her an odds-on Oaks jolly if she hailed from a more powerful yard.
Talent has been somewhat overlooked due to her stablemate’s lofty billing in the betting, but the daughter of sire-of-the-moment New Approach won a hard-fought Pretty Polly Stakes on 1000 Guineas day and the third that afternoon Madam Defarge is deemed good enough to take her chance in the Oaks.
The way she ground down second-placed Lady Nouf suggested she might well appreciate the extra furlongs the fillies’ Classic will offer and the fact that jockey Jim Crowley felt she had yet to “quite come to herself” at the time of her last run points to the fact that she should improve.
She’ll not be inconvenienced by the fact that stable pilot Crowley has chosen Secret Gesture, with champion jockey Richard Hughes getting the spare ride and could rate a good each way bet at 14/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication