Oaks hopes on the line: the lowdown on Wednesday's famous Classic trial
Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Group 3) | 3yo fillies | 1m2½f | ITV4/RUK
Ralph Beckett may have won the Investec Oaks twice and the Lingfield Oaks Trial three times but he has never won the Musidora and his latest hope Ceilidhs Dream is not even entered at Epsom.
The daughter of Oasis Dream was a popular winner with some locals, if not the punters, when turning over the well-fancied newcomer Sea Of Class at the Newmarket Craven meeting last month as she carries the colours of former HQ course chairman Julian Richmond-Watson.
Ceilidhs Dream, previously a promising debut third on the all-weather, finished well to master the runner-up by a neck that day and the way she finished out of the Dip over a mile would suggest this extra two and half furlongs should play to her strengths.
The three-year-old's dam Ceilidh House won over over 1m2f at Listed level before she was switched overseas and she could make it a stern test.
Beckett said: "Ceilidhs Dream is getting more relaxed as she's getting older and we're leaving the hood off this time as she was a bit too relaxed at Newmarket before getting up to win.
"The trip and the ground look right and I'm looking forward to running her."
Of those that are entered at Epsom, Frankie Dettori is attempting a record sixth victory in the fillies' feature on Highgarden trained by John Gosden who has already won it that many times but is still shy of Sir Henry Cecil's tally of nine.
Gosden's recent roll of honour includes Star Of Seville (2015), So Mi Dar (2016) and Shutter Speed (2017), none of whom followed up at Epsom. You have to go back to Sariska (2009) to find a filly who did the double.
A 20-1 chance for Classic glory, Highgarden finished just behind today's rival Give And Take when the pair failed to give 6lb to Crystal Hope in a novice contest over 1m2f at Sandown last month.
Gosden said: "It looks an open race this year and Highgarden ran a nice race at Sandown where the ground was on the soft side. It will be close again between her and Give And Take again I'd imagine.
"We'll see how she gets on before we make a decision whether she heads to Epsom or not."
Give And Take finished a length and a quarter ahead of her local rival that day and looks sure to be in the mix again. Last year, the daughter of Cityscape ran into some decent types including when runner-up to subsequent Group 1 winner Wild Illusion at Yarmouth.
Trainer William Haggas said: "Give And Take ran a nice race at Sandown on different ground and I'm not sure if she wants it fast but we're happy with her at home."
Fellow Newmarket raider Lubinka will sport the brand new colours of her new part-owners Qatar Racing for the first time after a private deal struck a week ago with the filly's owner-breeders Woodcote Stud.
Peter Chapple-Hyam has always held the grey in high regard and was not surprised to see her finish sixth behind Laurens in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Newmarket last October.
Lubinka took advantage of a considerable drop in grade and step up in trip to trounce Amourice on her reappearance over 1m4f at Lingfield last month, form that got a boost when the runner-up then won a handicap at Doncaster.
Chapple-Hyam said: "This is plan B for Lubinka as we were going to run her at Lingfield last weekend but the ground was a bit lively. Hopefully, they've done a good job with the watering up there and she should go well although the trip may be a bit on the sharp side for her."
David Simcock, who landed this with Madame Chiang in 2014, can do little wrong with his fillies at present and is hoping Ejtyah can supplement his breakthrough French 1,000 Guineas win with Teppal at the weekend.
The daughter of Frankel, who was also taken out of the Lingfield Oaks Trial at the weekend, has only been seen once in public when landing a mile novice at Chelmsford in December.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, said: "She's a bit short on experience but she's a filly that David likes and we expect her to be competitive."
Apart from Ceilidhs Dream, the other runner without an Epsom entry is Dancing Brave Bear who is making her first start on turf after victories at Lingfield and Chelmsford over the winter.
Trainer Ed Vaughan said: "We had to give her a break after Chelmsford as she was not quite right but she's working well again and we are hopeful of a good showing.
"There are a few in it with similar profiles but if she could finish in the frame we would be delighted."
As a general 50-1 chance, Expensive Liaison is the outsider of the lot for Epsom but stranger things have happened to runners carrying the Gredley silks.
The daughter of Camelot ran into Oaks favourite La Ti Dar when fourth at Newbury last month but then got off the mark in a novice event at Beverley.
Trainer Hugo Palmer said: "Beverley was only last week and I wish this race was another seven days or so but it's an open contest which is why we're running. If she could get third it would be a triumph."
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