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The Fugue aims to go one better in Darley Yorkshire Oaks

20 Aug 2013

She may better over 10 furlongs, but The Fugue went down narrowly in last year's Darley Yorkshire Oaks and will be looking to bounce back from a poor run in the Coral-Eclipse when she reappears on Thursday.

The Fugue winning last year’s Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. Image courtesy of

A fascinating middle distance clash for several of Europe’s top fillies and mares which could be an interesting precursor to the richest race of its kind in Europe, the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on 19 October when a truly scintillating day is in prospect.

Four 3-year-olds take on four older fillies and mares in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York’s Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, race six in the Fillies & Mares division, and it could be a close run thing between the generations on Thursday afternoon.

Venus De Milo looks the pick of the 3-year-olds on form. She was a good second in the Irish Oaks – her only defeat in four career outings – and has since won a lesser race very easily.

She must have a great chance for the Aidan O’Brien yard who reports her to be in good form.

Fellow Irish raider Scintillula is also useful, but after 10 starts is unlikely to find further improvement and Venus De Milo looks to have greater potential.

Secret Gesture, who started second favourite for the Investec Oaks at Epsom at the end of May, was beaten by her 20-1 stablemate, Talent.

After a long break, she finished a close second in the German Oaks which does not look very strong form overall.

She has a big home reputation, however, and can’t be discounted.

Talent, meanwhile, was not declared for the race because of the fast ground and will instead head to the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster next month.

The fourth three-year-old, Riposte, has strong claims for a place at least and the booking of champion jockey Richard Hughes adds confidence.

She needs to improve and has a length to find with Venus De Milo on their running in the Irish Oaks, but improvement is highly likely.

By far the most interesting of the older quartet is The Fugue, who was second in this race last year, beaten only a neck, having earlier won the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

She started this season in great style when third to Al Kazeem in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes before an inexplicable flop in the Coral-Eclipse.

She unquestionably has the best form and if she’s back to her best will take a lot of beating, though she has always looked best at 10 furlongs and Thursday’s 12 furlongs may stretch her stamina, as it appeared to last year, especially if there is a strong pace.

Emirates Queen won the Lancashire Oaks, but her overall form is not that strong.

Moment In Time has a lot to find while Wild Coco, winner of her last three starts, would need plenty of rain to be seen at her best and that is very unlikely this week. She could well be a late non-runner.

This century it’s as near to an even divide between the generations as you can get with seven 3-year-olds successful and six older fillies and mares triumphant.

The front two in the betting have an outstanding record, with six favourites and four second-favourites winning – on only three occasions this century has a longer-priced winner been successful and one of those was a third favourite.

It promises to be another great York race so tune in if you can on Channel 4 at 3.40pm on Thursday to watch it live.