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Special Features

The Musidora Stakes – Our Runner-By-Runner Guide To York’s Oaks Trial

Emily Upjohn

The Musidora Stakes is a key race in the build-up to the Oaks at next month. Won last year by Snowfall, who doubled up at Epsom, five fillies go to post for this year’s renewal and we have analysed all of their chances alongside 888Sport‘s new customer offer of £40 In Bet Bonuses, When You Bet £10.

Ching Shih (David Simcock, Jim Crowley) 20/1

A daughter of Madame Chiang, CHING SHIH represents the same yard as her Musidora-winning mother.

David Simcock turned his attention to the Oaks itself when that horse won this race and will be dreaming of the same with this filly, who won nicely at Newbury on her second start last season. Her debut at Newcastle was promising, but she put a decent amount of daylight between herself and her rivals with that experience behind her.

That win does have a number of holes to it, however. It was over 1m and on soft ground. Given she is by Lope De Vega, she is far from guaranteed to stay despite her mother’s influence and the going is unlikely to be testing on Wednesday.

Moreover, that winning form from Newbury could hardly have worked out any worse, with the second and third hopelessly disappointing since. This is a big step up and she is a genuine outsider.


Emily Upjohn (John & Thady Gosden, Frankie Dettori) 5/6

Currently the second favourite for the Oaks in June, EMILY UPJOHN comes into this race with the tallest reputation.

She only scraped home on her only start as a two-year-old, but it was a very decent race she won Newcastle. Nevertheless, improvement would still have been needed to score again at Sandown on her reappearance. Find some she did.

She won by 9½ lengths, finding plenty for the pressure that Frankie Dettori continuously applied. That may well have been to find out how strong she was through the finish of 1m2f. The answer was very, as she extended her stride really smartly.

Though a stablemate of hers in Emotion, who finished down the field that day, has hacked up since, that horse was likely undercooked on her debut, with Emily Upjohn the priority. 

There are therefore doubts about the form, as the runner-up could only finish sixth next time out. She is probably a very good horse, who should take it to the next level, but it may be worth being wary at odds-on.


Life Of Dreams (Charlie Appleby, William Buick) 5/2

Another who is currently trading at single-figure prices for the Oaks, LIFE OF DREAMS represents the 2000 Guineas winning combination of Appleby, Buick and Godolphin.

However, while that trio’s start to 2022 was astounding, there is a sense that their initial dominance is waning. Instead, it is the traditional behemoths of Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore and Coolmore have been swooping in to steal many of the Oaks and Derby trials either side of the Irish Sea.

Life Of Dreams could prove to be a very useful middle distance performer for them though. She was an easy winner of a Newbury maiden last month on her only career start, clearing away to win by 3½ lengths.

Once again, those in behind have done the form a disservice, with neither the second or third performing up to the same level next time out. As such, she will need to untap some of the potential she showed if she is to prove an Oaks candidate here.


Luna Dorada (Ralph Beckett, Rob Hornby) 12/1

Ralph Beckett and Rob Hornby so nearly claimed a 33/1 success in the 1000 Guineas with Prosperous Voyage. Their Classic hopes may now rest with LUNA DORADA.

This filly is entered in both the Epsom and Irish Oaks, as well as the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. She has plenty of top level options going forward, but connections will surely hope Epsom success remains a possibility going forward after York on Wednesday.

And it just might. Golden Horn’s career as a sire has not completely taken off, but he has still fathered some useful performers. Similarly, Luna Dorada won takingly on the Knavesmire on debut, staying on over 1m on soft ground really likeably.

Her winning margin and manner may not have been as fancy as those ahead of her in the market here, but she did the job professionally and the formbook suggests it was very strong. The runner-up (on only start since) and the third (twice) have both won after being beaten by Beckett’s filly. The ground is the question mark, but she could easily prove right up to the standard required here.


The Algarve (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 11/2

If you invented a Classic trial at a track of your choice, to be run by the end of this week, the chances are Aidan O’Brien would unearth another potential superstar in it.

THE ALGARVE is the latest in line to do so, after so many of her stablemates have warmed up for Epsom options in style. Unlike all of Thoughts Of June. Changingoftheguard and Stone Age, she was a winner as a two-year-old as well.

It took her three starts, and it came on heavy ground, but that pointed to her being more of a middle distance performer than a miler. However, unusually that form could almost be viewed as a negative.

She is a sister to Van Gogh, as well as a half-sister to a number of high class horses. However, her full sibling, while useful, did not kick on between two and three and was also at his best on much softer ground. Both of those are negatives enough to ignore the O’Brien juggernaut, but it would be no shock if she belied those doubts given the yard’s form.



Moore and O’Brien have been cleaning up recently, so The Algarve, despite pedigree and ground doubts, cannot be safely passed by. Emily Upjohn and Life Of Dreams come in at single-figure prices for the Oaks, but LUNA DORADA looks overpriced, as her debut win last season is the only piece of form that has been significantly franked. Ralph Beckett and Rob Hornby so nearly claimed the 1000 Guineas and could yet have another Classic contender for Epsom.


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