Maybe leads O’Brien six in Oaks

Joseph O’Brien takes the ride on Maybe in the Investec Oaks on Friday for the first leg of what could be a famous Classic double for the young rider at Epsom.

The 19-year-old son of Ballydoyle trainer Aidan has enjoyed plenty of success at that level in Ireland in the last 12 months, and has a golden opportunity of furthering his account in Britain after Camelot in the 2000 Guineas.

With Camelot the odds-on favourite for the Investec Derby on Saturday, O’Brien is also on the market leader in the fillies’ Classic, for which his father declared all six of his possibles from the confirmation stage.

He was aboard Maybe when she lost her unbeaten record behind stablemate Homecoming Queen in the 1000 Guineas.

Ryan Moore, who was on the winner that day, has been booked for Kissed, although she will only run if connections are happy with ground conditions.

Pat Smullen teams up with Twirl, while Colm O’Donoghue and Seamie Heffernan are on Betterbetterbetter and Was respectively. Richard Hughes has been handed the mount on Devotion.

Hughes has yet to add a British Classic victory to his CV and is happy to get a mount for the champion Irish trainer on the daughter of Dylan Thomas, who was second to Yellow Rosebud over a mile at Leopardstown on her latest start.

“I’ve had rides for Aidan before and this is grand. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

There were no withdrawals at the final declaration stage with all 14 standing their ground.

John Gosden is looking to The Fugue to give him a first win in the race.

She finished one place behind Maybe when fourth at Newmarket and has since boosted her Oaks prospects with an impressive victory in the Musidora Stakes at York.

Lingfield Oaks Trial heroine Vow will attempt to give Newmarket handler William Haggas back-to-back Oaks triumphs after Dancing Rain 12 months ago.

Godolphin’s Kailani, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, is another filly defending a 100% record and will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona.

Ralph Beckett, successful with Look Here in 2008, relies on Lingfield Oaks Trial runner-up Colima.

Completing the line-up are Hughie Morrison’s pair of Coquet and Shirocco Star, the Mick Channon-trained Nayarra, and Toptempo from Mark Tompkins’ stable.

Betting moves following declarations centred around The Fugue, with Coral cutting the Lord Lloyd-Webber-owned filly to 5-2 clear favourite.

Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: “The market confidence in The Fugue has increased significantly in the last couple of days while in complete contrast Maybe has become friendless in the betting.

“It is perhaps surprising that, despite Aidan O’Brien’s UK Guineas double and the strong hands he appears to have in both the Oaks and the Derby, The Fugue rather than Maybe looks likely to start favourite.”

On Wednesday afternoon, clerk of the course Andrew Cooper reported the going as good, good to firm in places, but may water should the track miss any showers.

He said: “It would ride as good fast ground if we raced on it at this particular moment in time, which is the type of ground summer Classics should be run on.

“I think in terms of where we would want to be when the meeting starts on Friday, it would be on that sort of ground, so the ground on Saturday would be no worse than good to firm.

“The last few nights we have had suggestions of thunderstorms that have missed us completely. The only prospect of rain for us is today, with showers coming in from the west to our neck of the woods. The showers are not predicted to be particularly heavy and then it looks like it is going to cool down and stay dry.

“If we don’t receive any rain today, to achieve what I have said, we will need to step back in and do something to the track.

“It is just a question of keeping the track where it is and on a daily basis we will have to put on somewhere in the region of three millimetres of water.”

Investec Oaks, Coral bet: 5-2 The Fugue, 11-4 Maybe, 5-1 Vow, 7-1 Kailani, 8-1 Kissed, 12-1 Colima, 14-1 Shirocco Star, 25-1 Coquet, Twirl, 28-1 Betterbetterbetter, 33-1 Was, 50-1 Devotion, 100-1 Nayarra, 200-1 Toptempo

William Hill bet: 5-2 Maybe, 11-4 The Fugue, 9-2 Vow, 6-1 Kissed, 8-1 Kailani, 14-1 Colima, 16-1 Shirocco Star, 25-1 bar.


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