Wild Illusion among 13 going forward for the Investec Oaks

Dubawi filly Wild Illusion, ridden by James Doyle and trained by Charlie Appleby, takes the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly on Sunday, earning an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Photo: focusonracing.com

G1 winner Wild Illusion headlines 13 six-day confirmations for the £500,000 G1 Investec Oaks (4.30pm) at Epsom Downs on the first day of the Investec Derby Festival, Ladies' Day, Friday, June 1.

The premier fillies' Classic, run over the same mile and half as the Investec Derby, is one of two G1 prizes on Ladies Day, following the £420,000 Investec Coronation Cup for older horses at 3.10pm.

Wild Illusion (Charlie Appleby), 4/1 favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival, is aiming to provide owner Godolphin with its fourth Investec Oaks success and first since Kazzia in 2002.

The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi, who finished fourth in the mile fillies' Classic, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, on her May 6 comeback this year, is already a winner at the top level thanks to her battling victory in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly, France, in October.

Minding provided Aidan O'Brien with his sixth Investec Oaks success in 2016 and Britain and Ireland's champion Flat trainer has eight Investec Oaks contenders this year including the first two home in the Listed Cheshire Oaks on May 9 - Magic Wand (7/1) and Forever Together (13/2). 

Sea Of Class decision

O'Brien's remaining entries include G2 scorer Magical (5/1) and Bye Bye Baby (8/1), who made all to win the G3 Blue Wind Stakes at the Curragh on May 12, plus I Can Fly (20/1), Sizzling (40/1), Athena (50/1) and Flattering (50/1).

Newmarket trainer William Haggas, who has his horses in fine form, has two trial winners going forward. Give And Take (11/1) pounced late to win the G3 Musidora Stakes at York on May 16, while Sea Of Class (6/1) surged clear to take the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies' Trial Stakes at Newbury on May 19.

Haggas, who has always intended to run Give And Take, is still considering whether to pitch in lightly-raced Sea Of Class, by 2009 Investec Derby winner Sea The Stars who was bred by Sunderland Holding Inc, as well.

He revealed today: "Mrs Tsui (the owner through Sunderland Holding Inc) has very kindly left the decision to us and we have said we will decide on Wednesday morning and that is just what we will do.

"Sea Of Class is a bit inexperienced, but with Lah Ti Dar coming out it makes you wonder, so I think it is very possible she might run."

Perfect Clarity (10/1, Clive Cox) is the only runner among the acceptors defending an unbeaten record. The daughter of Nathaniel, who sired last year's Investec Oaks heroine Enable, followed up a debut success at Nottingham in August with a decisive victory in the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield Park on May 12.

Dr Bridget Drew, co-owner of Perfect Clarity with David Keast, is the owner and director of Mildmay Stud and Farm, a 54-acre operation situated on the Hampshire Downs near Whitchurch.

She reported: "Clive is very happy with Perfect Clarity and everything is A1 for the Investec Oaks.

"We were delighted with her trip to Breakfast With The Stars (at Epsom Downs on Tuesday, May 22) as she lacks a bit of race experience, with some of the market leaders having had a couple more runs than her.

"That made going to Epsom important to help give her a bit of experience. It was great for us and the horse and it proved really helpful.

"I thought she preferred a bit of cut in the ground, but Clive seems to think she enjoys good and good to firm ground, so ground conditions at the moment will really suit her.

"She was very impressive at Lingfield in the Oaks Trial. I was nervous going into the race and Clive was hopeful of a big run. She travelled really well in to the race and quickened up smartly under Adam Kirby.

Similar to Epsom

"Clive was keen to run her at Lingfield because the track is similar to Epsom with its downhill undulations and turning round the bend in a similar vein to Tattenham Corner.

"It is unbelievable to have a runner in the Oaks really. I've had some nice horses in my time, but I never dreamt that I would have a runner and one with a live chance in a British Classic.

"In this day and age, you don't really think it will happen to you because of the powerful connections in this country. Clive thinks she is a real each-way player so it's very exciting.

"We have had some good horses in recent years including Perfect Tribute, who won the G3 Chartwell Stakes for us in 2011, whilst Perfect Star was a Listed winner at Ascot in 2007, but we have never had anything run in a Classic before.

"We bought Perfect Clarity in Book 3 at the Tattersalls Sales which is towards the end of the sale when most people had gone home. She was one of the last lots of the day, but I thought she really stood out when I saw her - I liked her.

"Clive was already on his way home, but I phoned him and he came to look at the horse. He agreed that she was a nice horse and we ended up buying her.

"She won nicely on her debut at Nottingham but got slightly lit up and it took Adam Kirby a while to pull her up. We were happy not to run her again that season as she had got a little bit sparky during the race. It was a lovely introduction and it was great that she was able to win on her debut.

"Clive had been happy with her progress throughout the winter and told me a while ago that she was the best filly he had trained, which was quite nice!

"She was going to run in a novice event at Sundown on her return to action this year, but got mucus, so we went straight to the Oaks Trial at Lingfield with her and she won well.

"Since then, it's been a nervous wait, but Clive is happy with her and we're looking forward to next week."

The confirmations are completed by Ejtyah (40/1, David Simcock), who was third behind Give And Take in the Musidora Stakes at York.   

Unibet odds - 4/1 Wild Illusion; 5/1 Magical; 6/1 Sea Of Class; 13/2 Forever Together; 7/1 Magic Wand; 8/1 Bye Bye Baby; 10/1 Perfect Clarity; 11/1 Give And Take; 20/1 I Can Fly; 40/1 Sizzling, Ejtyah; 50/1 Athena, Flattering

Coronation Cup opposition to Cracksman

Europe's highest-rated horse Cracksman (John Gosden, 4/11 favourite with Unibet), who ended 2017 with a rating of 130 and was the highest-rated 3-year-old in the world, could face up to seven opponents in the £420,000 G1 Investec Coronation Cup, also over a mile and a half.

The seven-length winner of last season's G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes made a sizzling return to action in the G1 Prix Ganay over 10 furlongs at Longchamp, France, on April 29, and is a red-hot 4/11 favourite with Unibet to gain a third consecutive G1 success.

Godolphin's Hawkbill (5/1, Charlie Appleby), third in last year's Investec Coronation Cup, has also returned in 2018 in great style, with two victories at Meydan, UAE, in March including a decisive win in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 31. 

Idaho (5/1) could bid to emulate his full-brother Highland Reel, who won this race 12 months ago. Idaho's trainer Aidan O'Brien has won the Investec Coronation Cup a record eight times and the Ballydoyle handler has also left in Cliffs Of Moher (7/1), runner-up in last year's Investec Derby, and Yucatan (18/1). 

Germany is set to be represented by two-time G1 scorer Windstoss (20/1, Markus Klug GER). The four-year-old proved himself the best of his generation in Germany with a length victory in the G1 Deutsches Derby at Hamburg in July.

Recent Ascot Listed winner Barsanti (14/1, Roger Varian) and G1 runner-up Salouen(40/1, Sylvester Kirk) also go forward.

Unibet odds - 4/11 Cracksman; 5/1 Idaho, Hawkbill; 7/1 Cliffs Of Moher; 14/1 Barsanti; 18/1 Yucatan; 20/1 Windstoss; 40/1 Salouen

Racing on Investec Ladies' Day starts at 2.00pm and ends at 5.50pm.

The Investec Derby Festival continues on Saturday, June 2, when the highlight is Britain's richest race and premier Classic, the £1.5-million Investec Derby.

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