Ralph Beckett’s Secret Gesture skipped almost to the head of every bookmaker’s ante-post Investec Oaks market after a wildly impressive victory through pouring rain at Lingfield.
The Betfred ’The Bonus King’ Oaks Trial was the same prep-race used by the trainer for his one and only British Classic victory so far, although Look Here was actually beaten on the Surrey course in 2008, and Secret Gesture strolled home by 10 lengths.
While Beckett had already unveiled a legitimate Epsom contender in the Pretty Polly winner Talent, Secret Gesture (evens favourite) appears to be of even greater ability and was far too good for Miss You Too without Jim Crowley needing to apply any pressure.
Coral have her as 4-1 joint-favourite with Moth, while Ladbrokes go 6-1 with Moth 7-2.
“That was probably better than I expected,” said Beckett.
“I’m not sure she has beaten much but I’m very pleased with how she has shown up today.
“Some colleagues said I hadn’t left much on her but I actually haven’t done much with her and she doesn’t need much work.
“I suppose Jim has a tough choice between her and Talent, but I think it’s pretty obvious which one he’ll choose. Let’s see how Sir Michael Stoute’s filly (Liber Nauticus) shows up at York next week.
“Look Here never showed much at home, so it’s unfair to make comparisons.”
Crowley said: “The way she did it, you’d have to be impressed and she has got terrific balance. She handled the bend really well and there’s plenty left in the tank.
“She’s a nice moving filly and we’ve always thought quicker ground wouldn’t be a problem.”
The deluge robbed the Betfred Derby Trial of its odds-on favourite Greatwood at the last minute, leaving Nevis to provide Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore with their third such event of the week.
Nevis, the 4-9 favourite after a reshuffle, was out of his depth behind Dawn Approach in the National Stakes but was not hard-pushed to beat Elidor and two other moderate rivals by nine lengths, joining Chester trial winners Ruler Of The World and Magician in the Derby shake-up.
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, said of Nevis: “The ground changing wasn’t ideal, but he had travelled a long way and there was no point not running.
“He handled it OK, and he won decisively. It will be up to Aidan what he does once he has seen the rest of the trials.”
Trainer Luca Cumani said of Greatwood: “We didn’t run because of the ground and he will either go for the Dante and then the Derby, or the old Predominate at Goodwood then miss the Derby and go to Royal Ascot.”
Irish raider Lily’s Angel wrestled a cosmopolitan betfred.com Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes from the French-trained Kendam by a short-head.
Lily’s Angel (4-1) has been a credit to the Ger Lyons’ stable and took a long time to adjust to the ground but still stepped up to Group Three level from a Kempton Listed win.
Lyons’ brother and assistant Shane said: “Her pure class has got her through. She absolutely hated the ground and she was wheel-spinning, but in fairness to Gary (Carroll, jockey), he got her balanced and took his time.
“She’s in the Ballycorus at Leopardstown but she wants better ground and the Windsor Forest (now Duke of Cambridge Stakes) is in our minds.”
Carroll did get a one-day careless riding ban (May 25).
Eve Johnson Houghton is not unknown to have a juvenile ready to win on debut and Cool Bahamian (16-1) was willing enough to hold Urban Dreamer in the Betfred Mobile Lotto/British Stallion Studs E.B.F. Maiden Stakes.
The trainer had been unaware John Fahy dropped his stick when making his challenge, and said: “He might have won more easily then!
“We’ll move up to six furlongs, probably for a novice race, see what happens then maybe get a bit over-excited.”
The rain saw the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Handicap decimated to just three runners, although it was all in favour of Spring Mile winner of Educate (evens favourite), who loves the soft.
Another helped by the bog was Boots And Spurs (11-4) in the Betfred TV Handicap.