This famous Classic takes place at Epsom on Friday 2nd June
Caernarfon is our ante-post selection at 50/1
Caernarfon (left) staying on to place fourth in the 1000 Guineas. (Getty)
Epsom's famous Derby Festival begins on Friday, when the card will be headlined by the historic Epsom Oaks. The first Oaks actually took place a year before the inaugural Epsom Derby was run in 1780 and many of the sport's most famous fillies have claimed victory in this fabled Classic.
Here's our ante-post guide to the 2023 Epsom Oaks, including our best betting tips.
2023 Epsom Oaks Odds
2023 Epsom Oaks Favourite
Tuesday's victory 12 months ago took Aidan O'Brien's tally of Oaks winners into double figures. The master of Ballydoyle has dominated this Classic in recent seasons, winning seven of the last 11 renewals and Savethelastdance (11/8) is the short-priced favourite to hand O'Brien an incredible eleventh victory.
Savethelastdance has risen from obscurity to Classic favouritism in the space of six weeks, thanks to victories at Leopardstown and Chester. Despite her successes this season, I remain unconvinced.
Leopardstown is a track where front-runners can easily get away from the field. That's exactly what happened when Savethelastdance won her maiden there in April. Wayne Lordan stole an early lead, pinched a couple more lengths turning into the straight and held that advantage on the run to the line.
After chief market rival, Luckin Brew was withdrawn, O'Brien's raider went off as the 8/11 favourite for the Cheshire Oaks - which should give you an idea of the level of competition left in the field. Sirona and Wintercrack went hard early on, setting the race up perfectly for the favourite, who swept into contention from the rear and cruised 22-lengths clear of her rivals on the run to the line.
To win a trial by such a wide margin is impressive but, in truth, that was a pathetic race. Savethelastdance never saw a rival at Leopardstown and barely had a rival to beat at Chester. This daughter of Galileo undoubtedly possesses plenty of quality, but I'm not even tempted to back the Epsom Oaks favourite at such a short price.
2023 Epsom Oaks Leading Fancy
John Gosden is the only trainer who has been able to interrupt Aidan O'Brien's monopoly of the Epsom Oaks. Gosden has landed this Classic three times in the past decade, while also saddling a runner-up and two thirds in that time period.
John and his son, Thady look set to be dually represented in 2023. Running Lion was seemingly confirmed for the Oaks following the official gallop at Epsom earlier this week - a move which goes against jockey Oisin Murphy's thoughts, as he claimed his filly was a "natural ten-furlong horse" following her impressive victory in the Pretty Polly Stakes.
Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, will be riding SOUL SISTER (3/1), who booked her place at Epsom with a magnificent victory in the Musidora Stakes at York.
Following a dismal effort on bottomless ground in the Fred Darling Stakes, Soul Sister was an unfancied 18/1 shot for the Musidora. To the dismay of punters who piled into Infinite Cosmos and Novakai before the off, Dettori's mount travelled like the best horse throughout that Group Three and put the race to bed with apparent ease.
I was much more impressed with Soul Sister's victory at York than Savethelastdance's lengthy triumph at Chester. This daughter of Frankel is related to a couple of very strong stayers and the way she finished off her race at York suggests she'll have no trouble seeing out the Oaks distance, especially on ground which is likely to be quick.
2023 Epsom Oaks Ante-Post Tips
Ante-post betting is all about finding value, so I'm not going to put Soul Sister up at this stage, as there's a chance that she could go off longer than her current price of 3/1.
I did fancy Bluestocking at the start of the season, but I didn't like the way she hung down the straight at Newbury and I'd be surprised if Ralph Beckett sent this inexperienced filly to Epsom. Heartache Tonight would be of interest if the ground came up soft which, according to the long-term weather forecast, is extremely unlikely.
CAERNARFON (50/1) finished outside the first three places once in seven juvenile starts last season. Jack Channon's filly placed behind Local Dynasty in the Tankard Stakes at Pontefract, before claiming a Listed prize on her final outing at Newmarket in the autumn.
On her reappearance in the 1000 Guineas, Caernarfon made good late progress to finish fourth, having been outpaced when Mawj and Tahiyra set sail for home at the three-furlong marker. Channon was understandably delighted with that effort and went on to claim that Caernarfon would be better when stepped up in distance.
The 1000 Guineas has proven to be an effective trial for the Oaks and Caernarfon shaped like a filly who will see out much further than eight furlongs. I doubt whether she has the quality to beat some of the fancied runners at the head of the market, but we've seen 90 and low-100-rated horses run into the places on numerous occasions. If the field cuts up as expected, I doubt you'll find 50/1 about Caernarfon on the day of the race.
Soul Sister will be our primary selection for the 2023 Epsom Oaks when the field is confirmed, but at the ante-post stage, Caernarfon could prove to be a profitable punt at 50/1.
2023 Epsom Oaks Ante-Post Tips: Caernarfon Each Way @50/1 at bet365 - 5 Units
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