Cambridge looking to cement Oaks claims
Sariska in 2009 was the latest of six horses to follow success in the Musidora Stakes with Oaks glory, cementing the York Group 3 as a principle trial alongside the Pretty Polly Stakes, the Sweetenham Stud Stakes, the Height Of Fashion Stakes and the Cheshire Oaks as a springboard for those hunting Epsom glory.
Ground conditions at York have given the Musidora Stakes a more open feel, with connections of the current favourite Cambridge concerned that the ground at York may be too soft for the Rail Link filly. However with no overnight rain, conditions remain soft, good to soft in places so it is likely she will line up.
Trained by Charlie Hills, the Khalid Abdullah homebred shot to prominence in the Oaks market, having stayed on strongly to score on her sole start as a juvenile at Nottingham. The three-year-old finished in front of some well-fancied rivals with previous racecourse experience, including the reposing Regardez who franked the form with a facile maiden success since.
A half sister to Dux Scholar, also being by Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero Rail Link, the step up to 10 furlongs should bring out the best in her. Her style of running on debut also hinted at this, as having looked outpaced at the half way point, she stayed on powerfully in the closing stages to win by three-quarters of a length.
It was a visually notable debut, backed up by a decent time and Hills has mapped this race as her starting point for some time now.
The recent rain on the Knavesmire would be the concern but if conditions were to come up no worse than soft – Dux Scholar was a winner on soft – you would think that Cambridge would have to win this Classic trial if she is to merit current odds of as low as 7/1 for the Oaks.
The race has benefited those at the top of the market in recent years and lightly raced sorts coming into the race off the back of a maiden win, so at 4/1 she looks more than capable of going close.
Queen Of Ice also comes into the 1m 2f event unbeaten after showing plenty of fight when plugging on gamely to get the better of Makruma on soft ground at Newmarket last November. The daughter of Selkirk followed up by purposely making all in a four-runner minor event at Kempton last month.
Connections have been eager to try a longer distance and get back to racing on turf with plenty of cut underfoot, so things a fallen in favour of the William Haggas filly and she has been supported early this morning.
Lady Hedi has arguably the best form coming into the race having left her two initial outings well behind her, in winning a Listed event at Pontefract in October. The daughter of High Chaparral looked to relish the heavy underfoot conditions on that occasion and any further rain would be a huge benefit to her. At 8/1 she may be overpriced.
Shama represents a trainer who has won the race eight times, and who has been responsible for two of the last ten winners, including Liber Nauticus 12 months ago. The filly out of Danehill Dancer followed her debut placed effort by destroying a Lingfield field with ease in maiden company last month, is proven over the trip and given connections, has to be respected.
Shama, Queen Of Ice and Lady Hedi all merit the upmost respect however despite conditions 4/1 looks a generous price for Cambridge. She has the right profile for this race, represents a stable and jockey in form and all things point to a positive showing.
Selection – Cambridge 4/1
Danger – Lady Hedi
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