The Epsom Oaks
In the 234 years of the Investec Epsom Oaks the Classic’s most successful jockey has been Frank Buckle, with nine victories between 1797 and 1823.
Lester Piggott won it six times, while among jockeys taking part this year the leading tally is held by Kieren Fallon. He now bids for a fifth success, and pins his hopes on Banoffee, trained by Hughie Morrison.
Robert Robson holds the record for training the most Investec Oaks winners – he saddled 13 between 1802 and 1825. Among current-day trainers Sir Henry Cecil (pictured) is the most successful, with eight winners from 1985 to 2007 – perhaps it is the air at his Warren Place stables in Newmarket, for his predecessor, Sir Noel Murless, saddled five fillies to take the Classic. Of those trainers with runners in this year’s race the leading tally is held by Aidan O’Brien, with four winners since 1998 – he runs Moth and Say.
Officially the most successful owner in Investec Oaks history is the Fourth Duke of Grafton, whose colours were carried to victory on six occasions between 1813 and 1831. Yet Sheikh Mohammed has been involved in seven winners since 1985; five in his own name, one in the name of Godolphin and one in a partnership between Godolphin and the Sheikh’s late brother, Maktoum Al Maktoum. Among owners involved in this year’s event the most successful is Sue Magnier, who has enjoyed an involvement in four winners with other owners.
Vespa (1833) and Jet Ski Lady (1991) are the longest-priced winners of the race at 50/1. If Miss You Too wins this year’s renewal she is likely to take that honour, for this morning she was available at 66/1 with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival. Roz is priced at 50/1 with the same layer.
Secret Gesture is very likely to start favourite for the race, but her odds will be nowhere near as short as Pretty Polly, who set off at 8/100 in 1904. She duly won.
Roz is a first runner in the race for Lambourn-based Harry Dunlop. His father, John, who retired at the end of last year, and older brother Ed, have each trained two Investec Oaks winners.
Only three winning fillies have had names containing three letters – Tag in 1789, Pia in 1967 and Was in 2012. This year two fillies are attempting to emulate that threesome – Roz, trained by Harry Dunlop, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Say, a stablemate of Was.
Aidan and Joseph O’Brien were the first trainer and jockey, father-and-son, team to win the Investec Derby when Camelot scored last year, and they now bid to take that honour in the Investec Oaks with Moth. A number of brothers have teamed up for victory – W Osborne and John Osborne Jr in 1874 (Apology), John Day Jr and Alfred Day in 1856 (Mincepie), John and William Scott in 1844 (The Princess), W Day and John Barham Day in 1834 (Pussy), and William and Sam Chifney in 1819 (Shoveler).
Most of this year’s field are owned by their breeders, but of those bought at public auction the most expensive is Banoffee, who was knocked down for €60,000 as a yearling. Miss You Too made 28,000gns, while Roz cost 16,000gns. However, a far higher sum would have been involved in the share of favourite Secret Gesture bought privately this week by Qatar Racing from her joint-owners and breeders, Newsells Park Stud.