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Yorkshire Oaks Preview : Key Runners Guide + Big-Race Verdict

The Yorkshire Oaks is the feature race on day two of York’s Ebor Meeting, and has an illustrious list of winners, including the superstar Enable who won it 2017 and 2019, becoming only the third horse to win twice.

This year’s line up see’s Savethelastdance bid to follow up her Irish Oaks victory and give trainer A P O’Brien a third winner in the race from the last four years. She faces some tough opposition though, so she’ll have to be at her very best to land the honours.

GG editor Jake Russell is on hand to preview the race, looking at the key trends for the racing before running through the key runners and giving his expert verdict on who he’s backing to come out on top.

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Last year’s renewal went the way of Sir Mark Prescott’s wondermare ALPINISTA, who made it seven wins in a row and a fifth successive Group 1 victory with a battling victory:

  • 8 of the last 12 winners were aged 3, with 4 of the last 12 winners were aged 4 or older.
  • 8 of the last 12 winners were favourites, 11 of the last 12 winners were in the top 3 in the betting (With Pleascach being the exception back in 2015)
  • 8 of the last 12 winners won on their last run before the Yorkshire Oaks.
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had their last run within the last 54 days
  • 5 of the last 12 winners ran in the Irish Oaks on their last run, 4 of the 5 won and 1 placed.
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had at least 2 previous runs over 12 furlongs, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win over 12 furlongs.
  • 12 of the last 12 winners had a rating of 112 or higher.
  •  10 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 win in a Group 1 race, 12 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 win in a group 1-3 race.
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had at least 2 runs that season, 9 of the last 12 winners had at least 1 previous win that season.

Key Runners Guide

9. Savethelastdance

(Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore)

A typical Aidan O’Brien horse that has really flourished in her 3yo campaign, she was a 2 length winner of a Leopardstown Maiden for her first run of the year, before heading to the Cheshire Oaks with a fairly lofty expectation already, and did she live up to those expectations on that day. Sent off the odds on favourite in very testing conditions, she absolute waltzed home by a cool 22 lengths, where she absolutely flew around the home bend to pull away with style. There was a fair bit of hype with her after that performance, and with expected good ground for this years Oaks at Epsom, some questioned whether she could do that on the better ground. She went into the Oaks as the market leader, but just found Soul Sister to strong on the day who won by a little under 2 lengths. She was always staying on well to the line, and she shown that again next time out in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh, where she looked beaten down the home straight and traded at huge odds in running, before she got her act together to pull away and win going away by half a length, with Bluestocking in behind. She clearly has talent in abundance, having won and placed in a Group 1 already this term, and she is lightly raced with just the 5 runs to her name, which three of them are victories. 3yo’s do well in this race, with 8 of the last 12 previous winners winning this as a 3yo, and the daughter of Galileo will look to emulate two previous star mares Love and Snowfall by winning this before heading onto bigger and better things this season against the older horses.

7. Bluestocking

(Ralph Beckett/Rossa Ryan)

The Ralph Beckett yard are in fine form this season, and currently operate at a 26% win strike rate for the last 14 days, and his filly in this doesn’t really have to much to find form wise to win this contest, considering she was beaten by Savethelastdance last time out at The Curragh. A nice winner on racecourse debut at Salisbury last September, connections obviously thought a lot of her as they then pitched her straight into Listed company, where she finished a head 2nd to Warm Heart, clearly showing she isn’t the finished article as yet. She then missed the Oaks at Epsom, seemingly with the Irish Oaks on the forefront of connections minds, coming 3rd in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot before going on to lock horns with Savethelastdance in the Irish Oaks, a race that she looked to have won before being worn down late on by the winner, just beaten by half a length coming to the line. She still didn’t looked the finished article, and was just worn down late on by a battled hardened horse, who she is just rated 2lb’s below on the BHA official ratings. I think Ralph Becketts filly still has some improvement to come, and the fact she has been pitched straight into black type company since her debut win last year shows that connections do think a lot of this daughter of Camelot. As mentioned the yards horses are going very well, and Rossa Ryan is having a breakthrough season riding many Group winners, he takes the ride for the suspended Rob Hornby, and that is a very good substitute to have lined up. I think it will be the battle of the Irish Oaks 1st and 2nd once again in this.

2. Free Wind

(John & Thady Gosden/Frankie Dettori)

One of the older horses who is set to line up in this race, who has a battled hardened profile, she has some decent Group 2 form to her name, winning the Lancashire Oaks last season before landing the Group 2 Middleton Fillies’ Stakes for her first start of the season, she has been pitched in some decent contest the last two times which includes the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes which really on paper was a Group 1, and the Lillie Langtry Stakes last time in very boggy conditions. There are a few slight concerns with her however, which are she has disappointed the last twice on better and soft conditions, so no real excuses on the ground front, and does have to give the younger fillies 9lb’s due to age allowance, when she is already rated a few pounds below them on the BHA ratings. However the race last time at Glorious Goodwood was very muddling, and was won by a mud lover from the front, so a line can be put through that performance, but that was only 19 days ago, in very testing conditions. I feel she tends to run better fresh, as she has shown in the past, so this quick turn around wont do her any favours. Personally to the eye I can’t see her beating the younger horses, but the step back down to 1m4f will more than work in her favour, but I just feel she is slightly below the Group 1 level, whereas others in this race could still be improving even more.

1. Al Husn

(Roger Varian/David Egan)

Another horse that is slightly older than the rest of the field, she is also the highest rated in the BHA ratings, therefore has to give the younger horses a fair chuck of weight just like Free Wind. Al Husn does however seem to be in a rich vein of form this season, recording the form figures of 2111, coming 2nd on seasonal debut at Newmarket, before going on to win a Listed race at Ayr, Group 3 on the all-weather at Newcastle and putting in a career best when landing the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time, after a fine training performance from Roger Varian. That performance last time was a real career best, when lowering the colours of Nashwa and Blue Rose Cen with relative ease, those were in softer conditions however so the forecasted good/good to firm conditions could be a hindrance, but she has good ground winning experience previously. I think this horse is seriously underestimated, and I will admit, I couldn’t see a world where she would win the Nassau Stakes last time, but she did and she won with merit. She has to back that up and prove it wasn’t a fluke, against some young up and coming prospects, of which she has to give a fair chunk of weight to, however I think she is the best of the older horses and should be a little shorter in the market. I will expect her to run well in this, in what is a plum ride for David Egan who takes over from the banned Jim Crowley.

10. Warm Heart

(Aidan O’Brien/James Doyle)

In what seems like a race for some decent jockeys to pick up some very decent rides, James Doyle looks set to ride Royal Ascot winning Warm Heart for the Aidan O’Brien team. Another youngster in the race who gets some wright off the older horses in this, she has been in fairly decent form this season, coming 2nd on seasonal re-appearance before going on to win her next three starts after that, including the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury with Bluestocking in 2nd, before going on to land the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal meeting. That was an awesome performance where she won by just under 3 lengths, she then went on to disappoint slightly in the Irish Oaks where she finished 5th by 6 lengths, not really being given the best of rides when kept out the back before staying on well down the The Curragh straight. This step up in trip will help here, having being bred for it, and she isn’t to far off most of these on the ratings, therefore I will expect to see this recent Royal Ascot winner staying on at the finish if she is ridden better than last time.

One Outsider For The Race

8. Novakai

(Karl Burke/William Buick)

In a race where I feel the main protagonists at the top of the market will be the ones who finish with their heads in front in this, as the previous trends suggest that 11 of the past 12 winners of this race have been in the top 3 of the betting, with 8 of those being the favourite, I feel Karl Burke’s filly could be one to keep an eye on in this contest. She has a little bit to find on ratings with the rest of these only being rated 107, but the way she won last time was quite eye catching and she was well fancied in the betting, when sent off the 5/2f. She duly obliged that market support by winning the Listed Aphrodite Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket by just under 5 lengths, with some decent horses in behind her that day. She finished a length 2nd to Commissioning in the Group 1 bet365 Fillies’ Mile on her last start as a 2yo, and has since had a fair bit of promise put on her name by connections, and given how she run behind Commissioning that day, I would say she is talented. That performance last time out however was the first time she stepped up to 1m4f, and judging by that performance I would say the middle distances will be her bag this season. Champion Jockey Will Buick is booked to ride, which is a real statement of intent from connections, and I feel there is still more to come from the daughter of Lope De Vega at this sort of trip.


In what is quite a tricky race to figure out, as previously mentioned the trends and statistics suggest the ones at the top end of the market tend to win, and the race does have a very good record for 3yo’s winning it. I feel Bluestocking although still learning on the job, probably should have beaten Savethelastdance in the Irish Oaks last time as it all went all Ralph Beckett’s fillies way, but the Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo filly stayed on very well to win, and I think she would have learnt plenty from that experience at the Curragh last time. I just can’t get her Cheshire Oaks demolition job out of my head, and although the ground will be completely different from at York, I just feel she is so versatile on ground, and is certainly the class act 3yo filly for this season, given she has a Group 1 to her name already. She will be very much primed and ready to go for this. Novakai is a very interesting one at this trip, and the way she won last time suggests to me there is still more to come over middle distances, I can see her running a huge race at a big price. She is very much one to keep an eye on going forward.

SELECTION: Savethelastdance – To Win (10/3 Best Odds) & Novakai – EW (16/1 Best Odds)

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