John and Thady Gosden go for third successive Group 3 Musidora Stakes

The pieces of the Oaks puzzle are slotting into place and the Musidora can complete the jigsaw with just 16 days to go until Epsom. Although, even a spectacular performance on the Knavesmire may not be enough to depose Ylang Ylang as Oaks favourite with only three of these (Classical Song, La Pasionaria and Secret Satire) entered at Epsom.

Despite that, a superb display can never be ruled out in this trial. Snowfall (2021) and Soul Sister (2023) were brilliant in the Musidora before achieving Classic glory at Epsom. Sandwiched between these two successes was Emily Upjohn, so impressive at York before a rocky start in the Oaks robbed her of victory in 2022. 

John and Thady Gosden have bossed this race in recent times and Friendly Soul bids to add a sixth success for the stable since 2015. 

Friendly Soul notched the best Topspeed figure on the 1,000 Guineas card at Newmarket ten days ago when pulling well clear with odds-on shot Kalpana in the Pretty Polly Stakes. That was a mighty effort for a filly on only her second start and we are surely dealing with a top-notcher, albeit one who is being aimed at Chantilly for the French Oaks rather than the British equivalent. 

In terms of two-year-old form, the returning Classical Song is the standard-bearer. Classical Song progressed markedly from her Sandown maiden success in October to finish fourth behind Ylang Ylang in the Fillies’ Mile. However, that effort is difficult to weigh up as she bled from the nose.

Such an ailment is off-putting for punters. Less off-putting should be Ralph Beckett’s stable form. Beckett, who also saddles the 81-rated La Pasionaria, landed two Oaks trials last week and the yard’s horses have turned a corner in the past fortnight after a slow start to the campaign. 

Horses graduating from novices or handicaps often make up a good portion of a trial field and this Musidora is no different. Aidan O’Brien’s contender Mayfair has been turned over in 7f maidens at short prices twice this term. As a daughter of Justify and out of a Cheveley Park winner, this longer trip is a surprising avenue to explore. 

Francophone landed a Southwell handicap off a mark of 86 in April and tackles a race owner-breeder Kirsten Rausing landed with Madame Chiang in 2014. Perhaps it is more than coincidence that Madame Chiang is the dam of Rausing’s other contender Sinology, another daughter of Study Of Man who arrives following a Newbury maiden strike 26 days ago.

The bare form of that needs improving on, but it is typically one of the track’s stronger maidens with Group 1 middle-distance fillies Star Catcher and Lah Ti Dar among its recent roll of honour.
Analysis by Robbie Wilders

France on the agenda for Friendly Soul if she continues the Gosdens' superb record

Friendly Soul is in good company if she goes off at her current forecast price of odds-on for this trial as four of the five previous winners from the Newmarket powerbase of John and Thady Gosden have justified such odds in the past decade.

The spree began under the John Gosden banner back in 2015 when subsequent French Oaks winner Star Of Seville (4-6) was followed a year later by So Mi Dar (4-5) and then Shutter Speed (4-7) in 2017. Emily Upjohn, who went onto be just denied at Epsom, sauntered home at odds of 4-7 in 2022 after Gosden's son Thady had joined the licence.

Throw stablemate and last year’s subsequent Oaks winner Soul Sister into the mix and the Newmarket establishment goes there with a strong recent record.

Friendly Soul is reappearing just ten days after her comeback win in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket but John Gosden is hopeful she can handle the turnaround.

He said: “Friendly Soul took a time to come to herself in the spring which means the races are now coming a bit close together. She won the Pretty Polly at Newmarket in good style and as that was only down the road, there was no travelling involved and she came out of it in good shape.

"She deserves to take her chance in a race like this and this'll tell us more about her going forward. She’s quite an active filly and showed she is versatile in that she's won both around a bend at Kempton and on a straight track like the Rowley Mile. “

He added: “She’s not in the Epsom Oaks and we’ll see how we go at York but she’s entered in the Prix de Diane and we've always had that in mind for her, as most of her family have winning form in France.”

What They Say

Rossa Ryan, rider of Classical Song
Her work at home has been lovely. She’s wintered really well and, judging by her two-year-old career, it looks like the step up in trip will suit her well, so I would have no fear on that front. She's a filly that as the year goes on will progress very well.

Charlie Johnston, trainer of Francophone
It’s obviously a fair jump up in class but we’ve always thought she was a filly who would be at home in pattern class. We’ll learn a lot more about her here.

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Mayfair
She's in good form and we think the longer trip of the Musidora will definitely suit her. She seems to be progressing from run to run so hopefully she will continue to do that. We think she has come forward nicely since her run at Dundalk.

David Simcock, trainer of Sinology
She’s a progressive filly who'll appreciate any juice in the ground as her mother won this in the mud. This'll tell us where we are with her and she looks as if she'll improve further when she steps up in trip.
Reporting by David Milnes