23 May 2023
By Roger Kennedy
The Oaks at Epsom is the leading British Classic for fillies in horse racing. The race has been dominated by Irish-trained horses in recent years, as six of the last eight renewals have been won by runners from Ireland.
Here is a look at the leading contenders from Ireland this year, as they bid to continue the excellent record Irish trainers have in the Classic at Epsom.
Savethelastdance Tops Betting for Aidan O’Brien
After a dominant performance in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester’s May Meeting, Savethelastdance is the 5/4 favourite in the Epsom the Oaks antepost odds. She blew her rivals away by 22 lengths in the trial for the British Classic at Chester.
The daughter of Galileo is bred to appreciate the extra distance in the 1m4f contest at Epsom. She broke her maiden over 1m2f at Leopardstown and she did not look like she was stopping at the end of the 1m3½f contest on her latest outing.
Enable was the last horse to win the Cheshire Oaks and then land the Oaks a month later. Connections of Savethelastdance will be hoping their exciting filly can go on to have a similar career to the seven-time Group One winner.
O’Brien is bidding to win the Oaks for the 11th time in his career. He has been successful in each of the last three runnings of the race, as Love, Snowfall and Tuesday have all been victorious for the most successful trainer in the history of the British Classics.
Never Ending Story Expected to Improve Over Oaks Distance
With eight appearances already in her career, Never Ending Story will be one of the most experienced fillies lining up at Epsom for the Oaks. She was successful twice last season as a two-year-old.
O’Brien’s filly prevailed on the opening start of her campaign when she landed the 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown. She ran on strongly in that 7f contest on heavy ground at the Irish course.
The Ballydoyle runner then featured in France in the Group One Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. She finished a respectable fifth place in that contest but just did not have the pace to match the runners ahead of her. The Irish horse should appreciate the stamina test at Epsom in what will be the furthest she will have featured over so far in her career.
Jackie Oh and Warm Heart Set to Make The trip Too
Naas winner Jackie Oh only just made her debut on the track back in March but she has an entry at Epsom. The Ballydoyle filly finished second of seven runners at Navan last time in a 1m2f contest. She stayed on well in that race after a slow start which will encourage her connections.
Warm Heart is another filly who is set to be saddled by O’Brien at Epsom. She got off the mark at the third time of asking when she scored at Leopardstown in a race over 1m2f. The extra trip saw her take a big step forward on her two previous appearances.
The 2023 Oaks takes place on the 2nd of June. The final declarations for the British Classic will be revealed 48 hours before the race.