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Eleven declared for top class Investec Oaks on Friday

29 May 2013

Eleven fillies, headed by the big three in the betting, Secret Gesture, Moth and Liber Nauticus, have been declared for the mile and a half fillies' Classic at Epsom on Friday.

Banoffee, supplemented at a cost of £30,000 at the weekend, is a live contender for the Investec Oaks on Friday afternoon. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Three fillies dominate betting market in the Investec Oaks for which a field of 11 will go to post for the 4pm race at Epsom on Friday.

They are the Ralph Beckett-trained Secret Gesture, who is likely to start favourite after hammering her rivals in the Lingfield Oaks Trial; the Aidan O’Brien-trained Moth, who stayed on really well to snatch third in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas; and Liber Nauticus, the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes winner at York earlier in the month, trained by a resurgent Sir Michael Stoute.

Of these big three, Moth has probably achieved the most.

The mile of the QIPCO 1000 Guineas was always likely to be too short for her. Short of room when she made her challenge, she got to within 1 ½ lengths of the runner-up, Just The Judge, who was the impressive winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas last Sunday.

Friday’s mile and a half should suit the daughter of Galileo much better.

O’Brien won this race last year with his outsider, Was, and he has another string to his bow this year in Say.

She would have to step up a lot on what she’s achieved to date to trouble the big three, however.

Another key factor is the unique Epsom course with its slopes, undulations and sweeping bends.

Some of these fillies simply will not handle the track and there has to be concern for as big a filly as Liber Nauticus in that respect.

She was very impressive at York and should relish the step up in trip, but will she be ready for the demanding Epsom track?

Secret Gesture, in whom Qatar Racing, a subsidiary of British Champions Series sponsor QIPCO Holding, yesterday bought a half share, may be more suited to the track and has to have a first-rate chance.

She won the Lingfield Oaks Trial by 10 lengths in a canter and has always been highly regarded by her stable.

Like Aidan O’Brien, Ralph Beckett, who won the Investec Oaks in 2008, also has a second string to his bow in the shape of Talent.

She could well improve for the extra two furlongs and cannot be ruled out though she may need fast ground to be seen at her best and it is likely to be Good or Good-to-Soft at Epsom on Friday.

Banoffee is trained by Hughie Morrison who saddled Shirocco Star to finish second in this race a year ago.

Unbeaten in two starts, her owners shelled out £30,000 to enter her for the race at the weekend.

If any filly can trouble the big three, it’s likely to be Banoffee and with any amount of improvement likely, she must rate a real threat.

The last two winners of the Investec Oaks were both 20-1, while the 2010 winner was 9-1.

Go back to the previous decade, however, and six out of ten favourites won.

Have the last three years set a new trend or will we see a short-priced winner re-emerge?

Make sure you tune in on Channel or Racing UK shortly before 4pm on Friday to see a fascinating race unfold.