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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

O'Brien's Flattering faces quicker conditions than for easy debut win

Ralph Beckett: stable form was hit by a virus last season
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1.55 Lingfield
Betfred Mobile Oaks Trial Fillies' Stakes | Listed | 1m3f½f | ITV4/ATR

Aidan O'Brien tends to be the first trainer punters turn to in the Classic trials, and many will look no further than Flattering in the trial her stable took with subsequent Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Seventh Heaven two years ago.

However, while Flattering is an unexposed Galileo filly with plenty of improvement in her, last week's wide-margin Cork maiden win was gained under conditions very different from those that will apply here. In the circumstances, her odds look plenty short enough.

O'Brien has this week already added Cheshire Oaks winner Magic Wand to a strong team headed by 1,000 Guineas third Happily, and it will take something special from Flattering to shake up the Epsom market

He said: "Flattering won her maiden by ten lengths in testing conditions at Cork, so we're hoping she will be okay on the quicker ground. She's in good form and we think she has progressed."

Beckett the man

While O'Brien at times seems to carry all before him in the trials, different rules apply here and his record pales when set alongside that of Ralph Beckett.

Beckett has won this with Kayah, Secret Gesture and Honor Bound, and his 2008 second Look Here – one of seven others from the stable who have finished in the frame here in the last decade – went on to provide him with the first of his two winners of the Epsom Classic.

He has run as many as three in the race but this time relies on the Peter Savill-owned Cecchini, who is related to the owner's champion juvenile and French Derby winner Celtic Swing and broke the juvenile course record when a well-backed all-the-way winner on her racecourse debut in a 1m Polytrack novice at Kempton in November.

Beckett says: "Not many break a track record on their debut and we'll see here whether she's as effective on turf. Her page suggests she should be, but when they go that well on Polytrack it just creates that nagging doubt. Her work last week was good and we think she should run well.

"I like the race because it gives you a clear indication as to whether they'll handle Epsom or not. That was initially why we went there, but I think it's become more competitive than it was. It's a good place to find out anyway."

A key Oaks trial?

It's fair to say that while Beckett and others swear by Lingfield as a perfect preparation for Epsom owing to its cambers, undulations and its downhill left-hand turn into the straight, the record of winners and placed horses going on to Epsom is decidedly mixed.

Ginevra and Juliette Marny won here and at Epsom in the 1970s when this held Group 3 status, while User Friendly, Lady Carla and Ramruma have all done the double since it was demoted, but while it still often punches above its weight, plenty or winners have sunk pretty much without trace.


Entries and betting for the Investec Oaks


Six of the nine runners have Epsom entries, the exceptions being Casima, Litigation and Queen Of Connaught, whose trainers are all bidding to acquire some priceless black type.


What they say

David Simcock, trainer of Ejtyah and Lady Of Shalott
Lady Of Shalott is a big scopey filly who won well at Yarmouth last year. This has always been the target and she'll stay well, but I'm a little concerned the ground is as quick as it is. Ejtyah will probably swerve this if the ground is too quick.

James Tate, trainer of Litigation
This looks a big step up in class for her but with a filly it's always worth a go in a Listed race.

Clive Cox, trainer of Perfect Clarity
The step up in trip will be very welcome for her and she’s a very good, strong and athletic filly.

Michael Bell, trainer of Queen Of Connaught
We're trying to get her some black type and it's a bit of a punt, but she stays well and likes fast ground.

John Gosden, trainer of Stream Song
It's a nice pot to go for with these fillies and she showed a bit of character before winning at Windsor last time. She's been pleasing at home since then and should appreciate the step up in trip.

We are hoping she will be okay on the quicker ground. She's in good form and we think she has progressed
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