2008 was a landmark year for Ralph Beckett, A year which saw the Berkshire-based trainer propel his stable towards Group 1 glory in the Epsom Oaks. Five years on, Beckett is back, eyeing further Classic glories after the runaway success of Secret Gesture in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.
A three year old daughter of Galileo, out of a Danehill mare by the name of Shastye, hopes were high coming into the Lingfield Oaks trial that Beckett's Secret Gesture could readily account for her six rivals as the well-fancied even money favourite. However, few would've expected a performance of the magnitude that Lingfield was graced with on this dreary, precipitation-laden of afternoons.
Tracking the leaders as the pack angled towards the contour-ridden straight of the Lingfield turf course, Secret Gesture cruised up alongside the keen, hard-pulling Miss U Too with jockey Jim Crowley yet to ask the filly for her race winning effort. As e daughter of Galileo readily took the race by the scruff of the neck, it was clear that Crowley would seemingly not be required to ask many questions of Secret Gesture on this occasion.
A class above her rivals, Secret Gesture is a filly who noticeably knew her job, readily pulling away for a ten length success with Crowley sitting motionless in the saddle, with his mount passing the winning post still on a tight reign for a facile ten length success.
A race which Beckett has continued to send his best Epsom Oaks to, Beckett was victorious in this Oaks trial with the 2008 Epsom Oaks long-shot winner, Look Here, whom bellowed her odds of 33-1 with a dominant performance at Epsom. For now, Beckett and the owners can only dream of a repeat in the same race for the yard, just five years after their last success, but the prospect of Secret Gesture following up in three weeks time is a very real possibility.
"She shows up well at home and she showed us what we wanted to see", said Classic winning trainer, Beckett, "I never felt she wanted this ground, and I don't think she'll have any problem with faster going, although she has to show it. I'm thrilled with the way she did it, it was better than we'd hoped for.".
"Secret Gesture was very professional. I've not done very much with her and she's come here off one piece of work, but she's a filly who wants nourishment not punishment.".
In the Lingfield Derby Trial, it was very much a case of business as usual for the powerhouse stable of Aidan O'Brien, as 4-9 favourite, Nevis, pulled away from inferior rivals for an equally facile success.
For O'Brien, this was the third Epsom Derby trial of the week that his stable had won after the runaway victories of Ruler of the World and Magician at Chester. However, this was a much lesser contest and a challenge of lacking proportions for Nevis after the withdrawal of the morning favourite, Greatwood, due to the lashing of heavy precipitation throughout the morning.
A three year old son of Dansili, it is of intrigue that Nevis is out of Moonstone - the filly who finished second to Look Here in the 2008 Epsom Oaks. Whether Nevis can perform to the level required at Epsom, however, is of concern.
Perfectly suited by the going, and with O'Brien alread holding a strong hand for Epsom, it would seem a much clearer option for the three year old son of Dansili to take dead aim on the Irish version of the Classic at the Curragh at the end of June.