Matt Brocklebank

Musidora Stakes reflections after Secret Satire wins York feature

The Tattersalls Musidora Stakes threw up more questions than answers on the face of it, but our reporter feels the Oaks picture may have become a fraction clearer.

The Betfred Oaks picture looked a little murky heading into York’s often-informative Dante Festival, and the initial conclusion might have been that we were none the wiser following Wednesday’s events on the Knavesmire. But maybe there is a hidden clue buried away in the form book.

All eyes were undoubtedly on John and Thady Gosden’s Friendly Soul; an unbeaten, exciting filly with the world at her feet after just the two career starts.

She was unflustered in the preliminaries, despite two handlers, just 10 days on from a striking performance in Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes at the Guineas meeting, and was sent off the 8/11 favourite under stable jockey Kieran Shoemark.

The Prix de Diane had been nominated as her primary target in the immediate aftermath of Newmarket, but plans can change rapidly this time of year. Perhaps they were thinking of stumping up the £30,000 to supplement her for the Oaks if equally as impressive on the Knavesmire?

We’ll never know, the daughter of Kingman proving anything but a classic ride after looking ill-at-ease almost as soon as the stalls opened.

Drawn seven of seven, the writing was on the wall after she started to hang right early on and although Shoemark looked back in some sort of control as his mount handled the bend reasonably well, she gradually wandered further and further to her right when asked for an effort in the home straight, ending up close to the stands’ side rail and ultimately more than nine lengths adrift of the 22/1 winner, Andrew Balding’s Secret Satire.

Secret Satire’s jockey Oisin Murphy is developing a bit of a habit of winning Epsom trials at this meeting, today’s first Musidora success supplementing victories aboard Roaring Lion, Telecaster and The Foxes in the Dante Stakes.

Not one of them won the Derby, though, and there were similarly realistic vibes from Balding’s wife Anna-Lisa in the winners’ enclosure regarding the chances of a Musidora-Oaks double – something achieved eight times over the years, including Snowfall and Soul Sister in recent seasons.

“It’s the time of year when all the geese are swans and all the smiles on the mornings can turn the wrong way round, but that one will really put a smile on Andrew’s face,” she said. “It’s 21 years since we won the Oaks (with Casual Look) and it’s just lovely to have runners in those big races.”

“She deserves maybe to go there, if Andrew decides,” added Murphy.

Secret Satire wins the Musidora
READ: Review, reaction and replays from York

If you’re among those thinking of taking the revised 12/1 (from 100s) for Epsom over another couple of furlongs in 16 days’ time, I’d be wary of that word “maybe” from Murphy. After all, this was anything but a true test at 10 furlongs and, if anything, the daughter of Advertise arguably won it due to her natural pace rather than the greater reserves of stamina.

In short, with 92-rated Southwell winner Francophone in second, it’s very much form to treat with caution, but it’s not all doom and gloom for team Gosden given Secret Satire was readily put in her place by their Juddmonte homebred Siyola in a strong Sandown novice late last month.

Siyola, bound for Saturday’s Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury en route to a crack at the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot by all accounts, looks a top prospect in her own right but it's worth noting that same Sandown race also featured her stablemate Beeley in second.

Beeley didn’t quite come up to scratch in the Cheshire Oaks earlier this month, but she wasn’t disgraced at all and Secret Satire doing her bit to endorse the Sandown form does appear to have nudged us in the direction of Ralph Beckett’s Chester winner Forest Fairy, who beat Beeley by four and a half lengths.

Forest Fairy is an unbeaten, exciting filly with the world at her feet after just the two career starts. What could possibly go wrong?

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