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Friday, May 15, 2009


The Dunlop family has a formidable record when it comes to the Investec Oaks. John Dunlop trained Circus Plume (1984) and Salsabil (1990) to victory, with his son Ed saddling the outstanding Ouija Board (2004). This year, the newest recruit to the training dynasty, Harry Dunlop, has a live contender with Three Moons.

A daughter of Montjeu and owned by Kate Goldsmith, wife of Ben Goldsmith, Three Moons finished second on her first four starts last season including when beaten a short-head by Midday at Newmarket in September. She began this season brightly with an easy success in Folkestone maiden on April 9, before running a good race in defeat when second in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on May 3.

Harry Dunlop said today: “Three Moons had her Investec Oaks trial in the Pretty Polly Stakes and she will now head straight to Epsom Downs.

“We have always liked her, even as a two-year-old. She was just touched off by Midday at Newmarket last season and we thought at the time it was a good race. She would obviously have to improve again to figure in the Investec Oaks but, based on her run at Newmarket, I think that she has every right to go Epsom Downs.

“She has taken the step up to 10 furlongs very well and I think that the extra distance of the Investec Oaks will suit her. It was mentioned after she won at Folkestone that she might prefer a flatter track but I don’t know where that came from. She’s a balanced filly and I don’t see why she shouldn’t handle Epsom Downs, although we won’t know for sure until she runs there.

“Sir James bred Montjeu and that is why Ben has a filly by the stallion. The Goldsmiths are very much involved in racing and they are thrilled to have a filly like this. We are all obviously excited about her and just hope that she makes it to Epsom Downs without any problems.”

Several trials for the Investec Oaks have taken place over the last few weeks and a number of interesting contenders for the premier fillies’ Classic have emerged.

Sariska leapt to the head of the market for the Investec Oaks with an eye-catching victory in the Group Three Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on May 13. The Pivotal filly is owned by Lady Bamford and trained by Michael Bell, who tasted success at Epsom Downs in 2005 when Motivator landed the Investec Derby.

Henry Cecil has won the Investec Oaks more than any other current trainer with eight victories to his name, most recently Light Shift in 2007. The master of Warren Place looks to have another live contender on his hands this year with Midday, who was most impressive when taking the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield Park on May 9.

Newmarket’s fixture on May 3 featured a number of Investec Oaks possible contenders, primarily fillies who contested the stanjames.com 1000 Guineas, including the winner Ghanaati. Rainbow View was unbeaten last season but disappointed on her reappearance when only fifth in the Guineas. Her trainer John Gosden nominated the Investec Oaks as a likely target for the Dynaformer filly, while the same trainer also won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes on the same card with Take The Hint, who could also head to Epsom Downs on June 5. Rainbow View’s owner George Strawbridge also has Fantasia as a possible Investec Oaks starter. The Sadler’s Wells filly was impressive on her seasonal debut in the Nell Gwynn Stakes at Newmarket before finishing third in the French 1,000 Guineas.

Possible Irish contenders include the Aidan O’Brien-trained Star Ruby, winner of the Listed Cheshire Oaks, and Beauty O’Gwaun, who is trained by John Oxx and got the better of her elders when victorious in the Group Three Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on May 13.

The Ł350,000 Group One Investec Oaks takes place at Epsom Downs on Friday, June 5.


The past week has seen further clues fall into place for the Investec Derby with important trials at Leopardstown, York and Lingfield. All three of the trials at the three venues were won by horses trained by Aidan O’Brien, who is seeking a third Investec Derby success following Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002).

Fame And Glory went to the head of the ante-post market for the Investec Derby when successful in the Group Two Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 10. The Montjeu colt is now unbeaten in four outings and has followed the same route as O’Brien’s two previous Derby winners by collecting the Listed Ballysax Stakes followed by the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

A day earlier at Lingfiled, the Group Three totesport.com Derby Trial went to O’Brien’s Age Of Aquarius, while in the totesport.com Dante Stakes at York on May 14, the master of Ballydoyle enjoyed a 1-2 with Black Bear Island and Freemantle.

Some final Investec Derby pointers could emerge in the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on May 20, when the Queen’s unbeaten colt Free Agent is expected to make his eagerly anticipated seasonal return.

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