11 line up in Investec Oaks

Secret Gesture heads 11 fillies going for Classic glory in the £426,250 Investec Oaks, the highlight of Investec Ladies’ Day, over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs on Friday, May 31.

The daughter of Galileo, now part-owned by Qatar Racing Limited, is the 9/4 favourite with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, after a devastating 10-length success over Miss You Too (66/1) in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial on May 11. Jim Crowley’s mount will be bidding to give trainer Ralph Beckett a second Investec Oaks after Look Here in 2008.

The Andover handler has secured the services of champion jockey Richard Hughes for his other contender Talent (14/1) who stayed on strongly to capture the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on May 5.

Ireland’s champion trainer Aidan O’Brien, with four Investec Oaks victories to his name, has two representatives in QIPCO 1000 Guineas third Moth (3/1), the choice of stable jockey Joseph O’Brien, and impressive Cork maiden scorer Say (10/1), who will be partnered by last year’s winning rider Seamie Heffernan.

Liber Nauticus (100/30) is trying to follow in the footsteps of Fair Salinia and Unite, who captured the Investec Oaks for trainer Sir Michael Stoute in 1978 and 1987 respectively. The daughter of Azamour warmed up for the Classic with a gutsy win in the Group Three Musidora Stakes at York on May 15.

Kieren Fallon retains the ride on the Hughie Morrison-trained Banoffee (8/1), who was supplemented at a cost of £30,000 after recording a comfortable length and a quarter success over Gertrude Versed (33/1) in the Listed Cheshire Oaks on May 8.

Trained by John Gosden, Gertrude Versed is bred and owned by his wife Rachel Hood, who is no stranger to Classic success having part-owned 2010 St Leger hero Arctic Cosmos.

Hood revealed today: “Gertrude Versed has been fine since the Cheshire Oaks. She is entitled to take her chance but her form is obviously a long way off some of the better ones in the race.

“We are hoping she can run well and her half-sister Gertrude Bell ran very well to finish fourth a few years ago (2010). It is very exciting just to have bred a filly who is running in the race.”

John Gosden added: “Gertrude Versed has been in good form since Chester and I think the winner of that race (Banoffee) was rightly supplemented for the Oaks – it is not a decision they would have made lightly. It looks to be solid form.

“There are some high-quality fillies in the race on Friday and I think the track should be no problem for our filly – there is only one way to find out and that is by running.”

The Michael Bell-trained Sariska denied Midday by a head in a vintage renewal of the Investec Oaks in 2009 and the Newmarket handler is responsible for Madame Defarge (20/1) and The Lark (25/1), who have both finished third in Listed company this year.

The field is completed by Harry Dunlop’s Group One Fillies’ Mile runner-up Roz (50/1), who will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh for the first time.

Investec Oaks – Coral bet: 9/4 Secret Gesture; 3/1 Moth; 100/30 Liber Nauticus; 8/1 Banoffee; 10/1 Say; 14/1 Talent; 20/1 Madame Defarge; 25/1 The Lark; 33/1 Gertrude Versed; 50/1 Roz; 66/1 Miss You Too

Going

The going at Epsom Downs is currently Good, Good to Soft in places.

Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs, reported today: “We have been dry since 3.30pm yesterday (Tuesday) and I am keeping the going description as good, good to soft in places.

“The forecast for today is for some light, patchy rain this afternoon. It is not predicted to amount to any great quantity.

“Tomorrow could also see some showers, while Friday and Saturday are expected to be dry.

“I am very happy with the condition of the course ahead of the 2013 Investec Derby Festival.”

THE 2013 INVESTEC OAKS

Class 1, Group 1, £426,250 Total Prize Fund. Epsom Downs, Friday, May 31, 2013. For three-year-old fillies only. One mile & four furlongs & 10yds. Weights: 9st each. Entries closed March 12, entries revealed March 14 (67 entries). Scratchings deadline noon, May 17 (14 remained). £30,000 supplementary entry stage and six-day confirmation stage May 25 (11 remained plus 1 supplementary entry Banoffee -12 in total), final declaration stage 10.00am, May 29 (11 declared runners). Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and include the racing up to and including Tuesday, May 28. May not include some overseas form.

Number Form Horse Owner Trainer/Jockey/Draw

1) 11 BANOFFEE (IRE) Michael Kerr-Dineen, Lord Hambleden & Partners Hughie Morrison/Kieren Fallon [5]

2) (5)(3)-(2)(1)2 GERTRUDE VERSED Rachel Hood John Gosden/William Buick [10]

3) 1-1 LIBER NAUTICUS (IRE) Ballymacoll Stud Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore [7]

4) 1-3 MADAME DEFARGE (IRE) Bill Gredley Michael Bell/Tom Queally [11]

5) 24423-2 MISS YOU TOO Andrew Whitlock David Simcock/Ian Mongan [8]

6) 53-13 MOTH (IRE) Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith Aidan O’Brien IRE/Joseph O’Brien [2]

7) 0(1)12-0 ROZ Mary-Anne Parker Harry Dunlop/Johnny Murtagh [4]

8) 6-21 SAY (IRE) Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor Aidan O’Brien IRE/Seamie Heffernan [4]

9) 21-1 SECRET GESTURE Qatar Racing Ltd & Newsells Park Stud Ralph Beckett/Jim Crowley [1]

10) 3(1)-1 TALENT James Rowsell & Mark Dixon Ralph Beckett/Richard Hughes [3]

11) 41-3 THE LARK Lady Bamford Michael Bell/Jamie Spencer [6]

11 declared runners

2 Irish-trained

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