The leading candidates for the Betfred Oaks
Oaks favourite Ylang Ylang (left) finished a close fifth in the 1000 Guineas

Leading Oaks contenders: Will they stay?

John Ingles assesses the pedigrees of the leading Oaks contenders and how well they'll be suited by the mile and a half at Epsom.

Given the way she shaped when staying on to win the Fillies’ Mile last year, it wasn’t too surprising that Ylang Ylang found some speedier fillies just too good on slightly quicker ground back at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas. But in keeping on well to be beaten less than a length in fifth behind Elmalka, Ylang Ylang ran a very sound trial for the Oaks which looks sure to play much more to her strengths. She’ll be bidding to provide her sire Frankel with a second consecutive Oaks winner after Soul Sister last year, and third in all with Anapurna winning at Epsom in 2019.

Ylang Ylang’s dam Shambolic, who is by Shamardal, won her first two starts at two without adding to those wins but she did train on to show useful form at three when placed in listed races, including when third in a mile and a half contest at Newmarket. Shambolic had some notable siblings over middle distances abroad, with half-sister Laughing a Grade 1 winner in the States over ten furlongs and Viva Pataca becoming Horse of the Year in Hong Kong where he was high class at up to a mile and a half.

Ylang Ylang wins at Leopardstown
Ylang Ylang wins at Leopardstown

Stablemate Rubies Are Red has emerged to give Ballydoyle another leading contender following her excellent second in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield which she would likely have won in another few strides. That means that she remains a maiden after three starts but her stamina for the Oaks trip is as good as proven and with her superb pedigree she could make Ryan Moore’s choice of Oaks rides a tricky one. Rubies Are Red will be one of her late sire Galileo’s best chances of a final classic winner and not just a sixth in the Oaks (his five so far all trained by Aidan O’Brien) but potentially his hundredth Group/Grade 1 winner too.

While the pick of Rubies Are Red’s sisters is the tough and high-class mare Found whose wins included the Arc and Breeders’ Cup Turf, another of her sisters Divinely was a remote third in the 2021 Oaks, while a third sister, Best In The World, produced the runaway winner of that 2021 Oaks, Snowfall, who went on to win the Irish Oaks (with Divinely second) and Yorkshire Oaks as well.

The Aga Khan has never won the Oaks, though his filly Aliysa was first past the post in 1989 before her controversial disqualification after testing positive for a banned substance. He has a leading contender with the progressive Ezeliya who relished the step up to a mile and a quarter when winning the Group 3 Salsabil Stakes at Navan last month and looks set to improve again over another couple of furlongs. She’s by Dubawi who has gone closer to siring an Oaks winner than a Derby winner, having had runner-up Wild Illusion who was sent off favourite in 2018.

Ezeliya’s dam Eziyra was a smart filly also trained by Dermot Weld, winning pattern races at two, three and four, including the Blandford Stakes, and who rubbed shoulders with some top fillies, finishing third behind Enable in the Irish Oaks and to Sea of Class in the following season’s Yorkshire Oaks. This is one of the Aga Khan’s fine staying families, with Eziyra being out of a half-sister to not only Irish Oaks winner Ebadilya but also his Gold Cup winner Enzeli and Estimate who won the same race for Queen Elizabeth II.

Download the Sporting Life App

Forest Fairy looks the stoutest stayer among the leading contenders, having made a successful debut over a mile and a half before following up in the Cheshire Oaks. That’s very much in keeping with the stamina on both sides of her pedigree. She’s from the first crop of 2019 Arc winner Waldgeist, while her German great grandam Borgia was herself third in the Arc in a very successful international career. Both Forest Fairy’s dam and grandam were also middle-distance winners in Germany and France respectively.

Like Forest Fairy, another of Ralph Beckett’s leading hopes You Got To Me is already proven at around mile and half, having beaten Rubies Are Red at Lingfield. She too is very much bred for middle-distances, by Nathaniel, already sire of 2017 Oaks winner Enable, and out of useful mare Brushing whose wins included the Galtres Stakes at York over a mile and a half.

Of the fillies in the first half-dozen of the Oaks betting, Musidora Stakes winner Secret Satire has the most questions to answer regarding her stamina, having pulled hard and been suited by the emphasis on speed at York. Her useful dam Secret Pursuit was second in the Cheshire Oaks but that extended eleven furlongs was as far as she raced, and while she has produced a useful handicapper, Secret Shadow, who won at up to a mile and three quarters, she was by stamina influence Camelot. Secret Satire, on the other hand, is from the first crop of a very different sire in high-class sprinter Advertise, winner of the Commonwealth Cup.

More from Sporting Life

Safer gambling

We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.

If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.

Further support and information can be found at and

Like what you've read?

Next Off

Sporting Life
My Stable
Follow and track your favourite Horses, Jockeys and Trainers. Never miss a race with automated alerts.
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Click HERE for more information

Most Followed