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Epsom Oaks: Ocean Road ‘all systems go’ to take chance for Hugo Palmer in Friday’s Classic

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Champion jockey Oisin Murphy to ride Ocean Road in Friday’s Cazoo Oaks at Epsom; Hugo Palmer’s three-year-old was third in Lingfield Oaks Trial last month; Palmer: “We’re very hopeful that we will see her to much better effect on top of the ground.”

Jockey Oisin Murphy.

Hugo Palmer’s Ocean Road is poised to take her chance in the Group One Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on Friday.

The three-year-old daughter of Australia was last seen finishing third behind Sherbet Lemon in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial in early May.

The Qatar Racing-owned bay was hindered by a slow start on that occasion and has subsequently undertaken some stalls practice with big-race rider Oisin Murphy.

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“We’re all systems go for Epsom on Friday,” Palmer said.

“Oisin sat on her this morning and did a little bit of stalls work with her.

“She was too slowly away at Lingfield and ended up sitting last, it was all a bit of a mess on ground that was too soft for her.”

Ocean Road, left, was third behind Sherbet Lemon in the Oaks Trial Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield last month

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The Lingfield race was run on soft ground after a damp spring, but the Epsom turf is drying fast due to the current warm spell and Palmer is looking forward to seeing his filly run in more suitable conditions.

“We’ve always seen her as a good-moving filly that should be better on the top of the ground,” he explained.

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“We just felt that on debut at Nottingham she got away with the ground, she wanted a bit quicker but she handles it, and the same also when she ran at Lingfield.

“She ended up on the worst bit of the track as well. She’s got a great turn of foot and loads of speed and we feel that the ground blunts her speed.

“We’re very hopeful that we will see her to much better effect on top of the ground.”

Oisin Murphy on board Ocean Road ahead of the Oaks Trial at Lingfield

Ocean Road is currently a general 33-1 chance for the Classic and Palmer is mindful she will have to improve as swiftly as his high-class fillies Covert Love and Architecture did in their three-year-old seasons if she is to challenge for the prize.

“She’s going to have to show considerable improvement on what she’s done to date to win the Oaks, but I believe she has improved a huge amount at home,” he said.

“As we see year in, year out, these fillies can improve 20lb from one run to the next.

“My two best fillies that I’ve had prior to this were Covert Love and Architecture, over this trip, and they improved massively from this time of year.

“It can happen, but we’re obviously very conscious about the fact that it has to.”

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