Maybe has definite Oaks chance, says Aidan O’Brien

Joseph O’Brien has his fingers crossed Maybe will last home when she steps up to a mile and a half in the Investec Oaks at Epsom today.

The 19-year-old is excited at the prospect of partnering the daughter of Galileo, who heads a strong team from his father Aidan’s stable in the fillies’ Classic.

O’Brien jnr was convinced Maybe would stay the eight furlongs of the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, in which she finished a staying-on third, but this extra half a mile is another matter.

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He said: “I’m really looking forward to her. She ran a good race to finish third in the Guineas, just ahead of The Fugue, so on that form she’d have to have a big chance.

“The trip is obviously a massive question mark. She’s stepping up from a mile to a mile and a half, and half a mile is a long way.

“After riding her at Newmarket, I’d like to think she’ll stay further than a mile, but whether she’ll get the mile and a half or not is another thing. It’s hard to know what kind of improvement there will be.

“Some horses improve for a step up in trip, some horses go backwards, so we’ll just have to see. She’s a Group 1-winning filly and, hopefully, she can run a big race.”

Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Oaks three times, has declared five other fillies – Betterbetterbetter, Devotion, Kissed, Twirl and Was.

Ryan Moore won on Snow Fairy two years ago and is hoping Kissed gets the go-ahead. She will only run if the Coolmore team deem conditions are suitable. “My logic is that, if Aidan thinks the ground is suitable, then I think she will have a big chance of winning,” said the jockey. “Clearly, her high knee action suggests she needs to get her toe in. But Andrew Cooper is the best clerk of the course in the country, and he will provide beautiful ground at Epsom on Friday. And I think Kissed is tailor-made for the race.

“She is a high-class filly. Being drawn 14 of 14 isn’t ideal, though. I would prefer to be drawn in the middle. But it’s my job to solve that problem. I just hope that I get the chance.”

The Fugue was one place behind Maybe when fourth in the 1,000 Guineas and has since run out a convincing winner over Twirl in the Musidora Stakes.

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Trainer John Gosden is optimistic she will stay. He said: “She’s tough, she came out of the Guineas well and it’s not normal to go quickly back like that, but she went up to York and I thought she ran a lovely race.

“The mother [Twyla Tharp] was by a stallion more known for his stamina, but Dansili seems to get them to go anything from a mile to a mile and a half, so hopefully that side of the family comes through and she gets the trip well.”

William Haggas saddled Dancing Rain to take the glory 12 months ago and has a leading fancy this time in Vow, unbeaten winner of the Lingfield Oaks Trial. “She’s got a chance in a very tight race,” he said. “Aidan O’Brien has got a good team of three-year-olds and John Gosden’s filly, The Fugue, was impressive at York. She’s got it all to do, but we’re pleased to be there.”

Kailani bids to be Godolphin’s first winner of this prize since her dam Kazzia ten years ago. The Monsun filly has won both her starts but is still something of an unknown quantity. “I can definitely see an improvement in her home work and she has been doing everything nicely,” said her trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni. “We need to know how good she is, so we shall run her in the Oaks to find out.”

Ralph Beckett tasted Oaks success with Look Here in 2008 and has a lively outsider in Colima, who was second to Vow at Lingfield. “I was delighted with her at Lingfield. It was a great shame the race wasn’t run on the turf,” he said. “I think she has improved for her run. I wouldn’t be confident of bridging the gap on Vow. I’m not confident about anything but we live in hope. “