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Hugo Palmer keen on ‘lively outsider’ for the Cazoo Oaks

2 Jun 2021

Classic-winning trainer keen on his filly Ocean Road, one of 14 declarations for the Cazoo Oaks

Ocean Road is a 'lively outsider' for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom

Hugo Palmer believes Ocean Road has improved by “at least 10lb” since her last run as he bids to go one place better and capture his first Cazoo Oaks on Friday.

Palmer saddled Architecture to finish second behind the great Minding in 2016 and rates Qatar Racing-owned Ocean Road another lively outsider in the fillies’ Classic at Epsom.

The Cazoo Oaks is the third Classic of the season and will be the second race in the Fillies & Mares category of the 2021 QIPCO British Champions Series

A daughter of 2014 Derby winner Australia, Ocean Road got an early taste of the Oaks track when exercising round Tattenham Corner and up the straight last week when the conditions were verging on heavy, since when the course has dried out.

“I never thought this filly was a soft ground filly,” said Palmer. “We felt it blunted her speed first time out at Nottingham when she was just second to Noon Star and it blunted her speed in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

“I think she has come on an enormous amount from Lingfield. I’d be confident that she has come on at least 10lb and if she has come on 20lb she is going to be right there. 

“I weighed her on Monday. She was only just ready to run when she went to Lingfield and she has stripped down to hard fit now. She is 18 kilos lighter than she was at Lingfield. Her work has been really good.”

Ocean Road finished third in the Novibet Oaks Trial at Lingfield under big race jockey Oisin Murphy, who was riding her for the first time.

He continued: “The principal reason for taking her to Epsom was really for Oisin’s benefit. Her best work at home and her best runs on the track have been for Cieren Fallon. 

“I just felt that Cieren had a little bit more belief in her than Oisin did. I wanted her to give Oisin a really good feel at Epsom which she really did do. He was really happy with her and so we are all on the same page.

“She is an outsider, but I think she is a lively outsider. She has a lot of improvement to find, not least to beat the two horses that beat her last time. But I think everyone is united that it’s a pretty open year.

“My previous Oaks winner Architecture got beaten at Lingfield and went on and only found Minding too good. I think you’d have to have a serious crystal ball to point out a horse as good as Minding at this stage. 

“I certainly at the same stage didn’t have any more belief in Architecture than I have in Ocean Road. I’m excited about running her and excited about the rest of the season. This is only her fourth run.

“The question with all of them is will they stay. I am pretty sure she will. Her brother Wigmore Hall stayed a mile and a half at Group 1 level and her father won the Derby. Both her father’s parents won Epsom Classics so there is every reason to believe she will stay and she does have a lot of speed as well.”

The Cazoo Oaks will pit Palmer against his former assistant George Boughey who will have his first runner in the race in Mystery Angel.

The Nick Bradley Racing-owned filly won the Betfair Pretty Polly Stakes and then finished fourth behind Snowfall in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and has been supplemented for the Classic.

Mystery Angel will be 29-year-old Boughey’s first runner in a Classic in his second season with a licence.

“I think she deserves her place,” said Boughey. “She showed a liking for faster ground and that she had a turn of foot at Newmarket in the Pretty Polly, which is a renowned Oaks trial.

“For me it looked a more logical step to supplement her for the Oaks than the Ribblesdale, which is run on a more conventional track and might not suit her as well as an unconventional track like Epsom. She seems to be in great form at home. I would consider her a lively outsider.”

Aidan O’Brien trains five of the 14 declarations as he seeks a ninth win in the Cazoo Oaks.

They are headed by Santa Barbara, who finished fourth in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas, and Snowfall, who earned her place with victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes.

Divinely, the sister of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Found, won a Group 3 last year and finished fourth in the Novibet Oaks Trial at Lingfield last month. Willow and the maiden La Jaconde complete the Ballydoyle team.

Roger Varian will saddle three runners Teona, Zeyaadah and Save A Forest, hoping to improve on his best Oaks finish last year when Queen Daenerys took fourth place.

Teona, the mount of David Egan, finished third behind Snowfall in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, her first start in Group company. Zeyaadah had an unbeaten juvenile campaign and finished second behind Dubai Fountain in the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks and Save A Forest was runner-up in the Novibet Oaks Trial at Lingfield.

Both Dubai Fountain, the Mark Johnston-trained winner of the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks, and Novibet Oaks Trial winner Sherbet Lemon take up their chance.

Their respective jockeys will be making their debuts in the Classic with Franny Norton riding Dubai Fountain and Hollie Doyle partnering Sherbet Lemon.

Jane Chapple-Hyam will saddle her first runner in Saffron Beach, who comes to the race after finishing a length second behind Mother Earth in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.

Technique, from the Martyn Meade stable, has previous course experience having been second in the Blue Riband Trial before running seventh in the Novibet Oaks Trial.

Full Entries

Dubai Fountain
La Joconde
Mystery Angel
Ocean Road
Saffron Beach
Santa Barbara
Save A Forest
Sherbet Lemon