It’s Ladies’ Day at the York Ebor meeting the Thursday, and as such it only seems right that it is the fine fillies and mares who light up the track in the second day’s feature event, the Yorkshire Oaks.
The first Yorkshire Oaks took place way back in 1849 when it was restricted to the three year old classic generation. This remained in place all the way up until to 1991 when it was opened to older fillies and mares. This has been classed as a Group 1 ever since the grading system was created in 1971.
Won in 2017 and 2019 by one of the all-time greats, Enable, the Yorkshire Oaks is one of the top 1m4f events of the season for the fillies and attracts an excellent field each year.
Yorkshire Oaks Past Winners
|2020||Love||4/9||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2019||Enable||1/4||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2018||Sea Of Class||7/4||William Haggas||James Doyle|
|2017||Enable||1/4||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Seventh Heaven||10/3||Aidan O’Brien||Colm O’Donoghue|
|2015||Pleascach||8/1||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2014||Tapestry||8/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2013||The Fugue||2/1||John Gosden||William Buick|
|2012||Shareta||2/1||Alain De Royer-Dupre||Christophe Lemaire|
|2011||Blue Bunting||11/4||Mahmood Al Zarooni||Frankie Dettori|
About the Yorkshire Oaks
Standing as the final fillies and mares event of the British Champions Series is the Yorkshire Oaks, which takes place every August at York Racecourse. One of the venue’s most revered contests, it rightly takes centre stage on day two of the popular Ebor Festival. Part of what makes the one-and-a-half mile race so special is its rich history, one that dates all the way back to 1849. Its large purse certainly don’t hurt its appeal either; the total prize fund has long exceeded £300,000.
The Yorkshire Oaks often sees fillies that featured in the Epsom Oaks but with an additional sprinkling of older horses. Unlike the British Classic, horses three and above have been able to compete in this Yorkshire based affair since 1991. It’s held Group 1 status ever since the present system of grading was introduced, allowing it to maintain a consistent flow of high quality female horses turning out at the Knavesmire.
THE OAKS A SEMI-USEFUL GUIDE
A total of 24 Epsom Oaks champions also struck gold in the Yorkshire Oaks two months later, 11 of those have been since 1970. It’s not always a double that’s attempted but when it is, winners at Epsom generally come into the test at York fairly well-fancied. Love successfully won both races in 2020 but it was only the third time this century it has occurred.
Dual Epsom Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks Winners: 1849 – 2020
|2020||Love||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier, Tabor & Smith|
|2017||Enable||John Gosden||Khalid Abdullah|
|2006||Alexandrova||Aidan O’Brien||Magnier, Tabor & Smith|
|1999||Ramruma||Sir Henry Cecil||Prince Fahd bin Salman|
|1992||User Friendly||Clive Brittain||Bill Gredley|
|1988||Diminuendo||Sir Henry Cecil||Sheikh Mohammed|
|1984||Circus Plume||John Dunlop||Sir Robin McAlpine|
|1983||Sun Princess||Dick Hern||Sir Michael Sobell|
|1978||Fair Salina||Sir Michael Stoute||Sven Hanson|
|1973||Mysterious||Noel Murless||George Pope Jr.|
|1970||Lupe||Noel Murless||Gladys Joel|
|1964||Homeward Bound||John Oxley||Foster Robinson|
|1959||Petite Etoile||Noel Murless||Prince Aly Khan|
|1952||Frieze||Charles Elsey||Alexander Keith|
|1921||Love In Idleness||Alec Taylor Jr.||Joseph Watson|
|1900||La Roche||John Porter||6th Duke of Portland|
|1887||Reve D’Or||Alec Taylor Sr.||8th Duke of Beaufort|
|1881||Thebais||Alec Taylor Sr.||William Stirling Crawfurd|
|1879||Wheel Of Fortune||Matthew Dawson||6th Viscount Falmouth|
|1878||Jannette||Matthew Dawson||6th Viscount Falmouth|
|1875||Spinaway||Matthew Dawson||6th Viscount Falmouth|
|1873||Marie Stuart||Robert Peck||James Merry|
|1862||Feu de Joie||James Godding||Richard Naylor|
|1861||Brown Duchess||Joseph Saxon||Joseph Saxon|
Several others have come close though, including Sariska (2009), Snow Fairy (2010) and Taghrooda (2014) who all finished as runners-up in the Yorkshire Oaks. So, unsurprisingly the Epsom Oaks result is one you ought to at least have a glance at before a Yorkshire Oaks renewal.
AGE OF NO SIGNIFICANCE
Since being opened to older fillies and mares in 1991, the Yorkshire Oaks has seen its fair share of older champions. While definitely something to note, the age of winners largely correlates with the rate of their participation in this race.
During the last 10 years three-year-olds have compromised a little over 60% of the Yorkshire Oaks field while their win percentage since the rule change is just 4% higher. Mares over five-years-old are yet to secure a win but it’s very rare to see them involved.
FOLLOW THE BETTING
The biggest help you’ll get when attempting to find the winner for the Yorkshire Oaks is from the bookies. The odds given for this race have been a very reliable indicator of how things will pan out in recent time. The favourite or joint favourite has won an impressive 16 of the last 18 renewals, handing the bookies a serious beating in that period.
True upsets have been in real scarce supply with the last coming back in 2001 when five-year-old Super Tassa claimed a pre-retirement win. By winning on her English debut she became the first Italian-trained horse to win a major race in Britain since Marguerite Vernaut won the Champion Stakes in 1960.
STOUTE ALL OUT OF LUCK
Sir Michael Stoute remains as the leading trainer in the Yorkshire Oaks but it’s been 15 long years since he last saddled a winner in the race. His first taste of success came in 1978 with an additional six victories coming over the next 26 years.
The tables have rather turned for him ever since Quiff was first past the line in 2004 though. He’s returned to this one-and-a-half mile contest eight times following that win, entering 10 runners in total but always his fillies and mares have come up short. Will the drought continue or can the veteran trainer scoop another win or two before he retires?
SIR MICHAEL STOUTE’S YORKSHIRE OAKS RECORD: 2004 – 2019
|2017||Queen’s Trust||Third||Jim Crowley||12/1|
|2016||Queen’s Trust||Third||Andrea Atzeni||6/1|
|2015||Crystal Zvezda||Eighth||Ted Durcan||14/1|
|2011||Crystal Capella||Fourth||Kieren Fallon||3/1|
|2010||Eleanora Duse||Third||Olivier Peslier||25/1|
|2006||Short Skirt||Second||Robert Winston||11/2|