Ylang Ylang expected to go the distance in Oaks

Aidan O’Brien’s Ylang Ylang is vying for Classic glory as she takes her place at the head of the market for the Betfred Oaks at Epsom on Friday.

The Frankel filly was last seen finishing fifth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, beaten only a length under Ryan Moore on what was her first run as a three-year-old.

During her juvenile season she showed plenty of ability when taking her first two races and signing off at the top level with success in the Fillies’ Mile, though there was a dip in form in the middle as she was last of nine in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

O’Brien attributes that to an over-keenness and was pleased to see her settle both in the Fillies’ Mile and the Guineas.

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“We weren’t sure whether Ylang Ylang would get the trip as she was keen and that is why her disappointing runs came in the middle,” he said.

Ylang Ylang winning her maiden under Ryan Moore
Ylang Ylang winning her maiden under Ryan Moore (Brian Lawless/PA)

“When we got her back and taught her how to relax, she was like a middle-distance filly and that is what she was like in the Guineas as well.

“We were very happy with her in the Guineas. We thought going to the Guineas that she was an Oaks filly given the way she had been working and that is how she ran.

“Ryan was very happy with her. He let her find her feet and he felt she came home very well.”

Of her beaten runs in the Moyglare and Rockfel, where she was ninth and third respectively, O’Brien added: “She won her first two races and then on her next two runs was a little bit keen and disappointed.

“Her run in the Moyglare was a shocker. She was able to reverse it when she got into the right mindset and I imagine some of the fillies that were behind her in the Guineas were ahead of her in the Moyglare, so it’s amazing the way things can swing around.”

O’Brien has a second runner in Rubies Are Red, a Galileo filly out of Red Evie, making her a full-sister to the superb Found – winner of the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Rubies Are Red is yet to win a race, but has placed in all three runs so far and was an eyecatching runner-up in the Lingfield Oaks Trial when half a length behind the reopposing You Got To Me.

O’Brien said: “Rubies Are Red is unusual in that she is a sister to Found. She had a run last year and surprised us – she was third and then this year she went to Leopardstown and one of Joseph’s (O’Brien, Galileo Dame) beat her.

“The plan had been to go to Lingfield so rather than going for another maiden, we stuck with the plan. Ryan said she was very green at Lingfield and he nursed her. Because of that, she got back a long way but when he straightened her up she really came home well.

“She is definitely an Oaks-type filly. Her running style is like Found’s in that she takes her time and comes late.”

You Got To Me winning the Oaks Trial at Lingfield
You Got To Me winning the Oaks Trial at Lingfield (Steve Paston/PA)

Ralph Beckett has four fillies in the field, with You Got To Me joining the King and Queen’s Treasure, Cheshire Oaks winner Forest Fairy and Seaward, who was third on the Roodee.

“Forest Fairy was very backward and immature and she had an issue at two and so didn’t come to us until October,” Beckett said of the most-fancied of his runners.

“We were surprised that she was able to win like that first time out (by six lengths at Wolverhampton), and then because her work on turf at home was good, we decided to take her to Chester for the trial. You would hope she’d come forward again for that, based on her inexperience.”

Of Seaward, the trainer added: “Seaward has trained well since the Cheshire Oaks and I was quite keen to come. I’d be less keen on her chance if the ground is slower than good.”

You Got To Me will run in a different bit and though she beat Rubies Are Red at Lingfield, Beckett is mindful of the improvement likely to come from that horse.

Treasure previously at Nottingham
Treasure previously at Nottingham (Simon Marper/PA)

He told the British Champions Series: “We’ll do a few things differently to manage You Got To Me, and we’ll be putting some different kit in her mouth.

“She’s a tall, sparely-made filly who doesn’t carry a lot of condition, so she doesn’t need much training, but she appears to take her racing well. She did well to hold on at Lingfield after going so hard, although Aidan’s filly Rubies Are Red came from Brighton virtually and will be tough to beat.”

Treasure was at one stage headed for the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot instead, but now will represent the King and Queen at Epsom having been bred by Queen Elizabeth II, whose Dunfermline won the Oaks in 1977.

Beckett said: “As for Treasure, we had been edging more towards the Ribblesdale, but we’ve had a change of heart.

“She’s trained very well since then and ground on the easy side will be in her favour. It will be very exciting to have a runner in a Classic for the King and the Queen.”

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Dermot Weld will run Ezeliya, an Aga Khan owned-and-bred filly who beat subsequent Irish 1,000 Guineas fifth Purple Lily when last seen in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan in late April.

“The form was let down a little bit in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, but I’m satisfied with my filly,” the trainer said.

“She’s a medium-sized filly with quality and I expect her to run a good race. She’s never been over a mile and a half, but she gives every impression that the trip will suit. We hope it will, but I can assure you she isn’t short of pace.”

Charlie Appleby is set to have a sole runner in Godolphin’s Dance Sequence, well beaten in the Guineas but previously second in the Nell Gwyn when defeated a neck by Pretty Crystal.

Dance Sequence will represent Charlie Appleby
Dance Sequence will represent Charlie Appleby (Nigel French/PA)

He told the Godolphin website: “She put up a nice performance in finishing second in the Nell Gwyn. We were happy with her going into the 1000 Guineas, but unfortunately the ground was quite quick which she didn’t really appreciate.

“Looking at the weather forecast with conditions the way they are, she’ll get her ground on Friday stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time, but with her pedigree and what she’s shown us at home both physically and mentally, she should hopefully seek further improvement stepping up to these trips.

“She goes there as a legitimate runner and a big player at the right end.”

Andrew Balding has a live contender in Secret Satire, a convincing winner of the Musidora at York, and the field is completed by Noel Meade’s Caught U Looking, the Karl Burke-trained Making Dreams and War Chimes for David Menuisier.

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