Investec Oaks Betting

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Following the Investec Coronation Cup, the Investec Oaks is the second feature race run on Ladies Day as part of the Investec Derby Festival held at Epsom Downs in early June each year. It has illustrious history dating back more than two centuries to the original Epsom Oaks, which was named after a house called “The Oaks” that was leased to Edward Smith Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby. Lord Derby proposed the inaugural running in 1778. That May, the initial meeting was won by Lord Derby’s own filly, Bridget.

Since then, this Group 1 flat horse race has become one of the five British Classics. It is open to Thoroughbred fillies aged three years and upwards. A number of other Group 1 races around Europe have been inspired by this event, notably the Irish Oaks, the German Oaks known as the Preis der Diana, the Prix de Diane in France, and the Oaks d’Italia.

Today, the Epsom Oaks is sponsored by Investec Bank, one of the world’s leaders in specialist banking and asset management, providing financial products and services to a select client base in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. The Oaks is widely regarded as Europe’s top race for fillies, attracting an international field and substantially heavy betting action.

The racecourse on which the Investec Oaks is run features a unique mile-and-a-half format that includes the original one-mile straight-line track set here in 1661 and an extension from the Tattenham Corner added in 1784. It is the same course on which the Investec (Epsom) Derby is contended. Crowds of up to 125,000 flock to the Festival for the best in British and all of the off-track style, glamour, and hoopla that the annual Derby Festival represents.

Over the years, Oaks winners have gone on the exceptional racing careers. Ouija Board, for one, took two Breeders Cup turf titles in the United States after winning not only the Oaks but also the Irish Oaks in 2004. Oh So Sharp proved to be another great champion of the course in 1985, becoming the last filly to complete the Triple crown of the 1000 Guineas, The Oaks and the St Leger.

Among jockeys, it is unlikely that anyone will ever top Frank Buckle’s run of nine Oaks wins, accomplished between 1797 and 1823. However, Lester Piggott left his mark here with six victories in 1957~1984 and Kieren Fallon added four first place finishes of his own between 1997 and 2006. Among trainers, Robert Robson dominated here from 1802 to 1825 with 13 winners, while Alec Taylor, Jr. had eight of his own in 1910~1926, as did Henry Cecil in 1985~2007.

Betting interest in the Investec Oaks starts in the early season with the running of the Guineas Classics at Newmarket. In particular, bookmakers and punters alike keep a close eye on the results of four trials: the 1000 Guineas, the Cheshire Oaks, the Musidora Stakes, and the Lingfield Oaks. Each one of these is good indicator of what horses will be in top form come Investec Ladies Day. Ante-post wagering hots up as the field of potential runners becomes known and gradually reduces to around fifteen starters.

Because the Investec Oaks is run on the first day of Festival, it is typically a very stylish affair. The exclusive boxes of the Queens Stand and the Duchess’s Stand are awash with fashionable celebrities, and the lawns of the Tattenham Picnic Area on the main straight are always crowded with well-heeled spectators.

Bookmakers and tote betting booths are numerous at the course. Minimum wagers start at just £2. Beyond Epsom Downs, online bookmakers offer a variety of free bets, such as those featured for the 2011 running, including a £zero promotion at bet365, £30 at ladbrokes, £20 at paddypower, and £125 at extrabet.com. Look for wagers to centre on the entries of the top trainers, especially Aiden O’Brien, Henry Cecil, and Ed Dunlop.

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