With the Derby Festival fast approaching, the declarations for the Oaks have made with 14 runners looking to make the charge around Tattenham Corner on Friday afternoon at Epsom Downs.
Aidan O’Brien, who has won four of the last six renewals of this contest, holds the favourite once again in the form of SANTA BARBARA (9/4).
Her trainer’s bullish comments over the winter months saw her price slashed in the ante-post markets and she has remained at a short price ever since.
The filly showed her raw ability in a maiden at the Curragh as a two-year-old, quickening well to claim victory by two and a half lengths.
She claimed a far from disgraced fourth in the 1000 Guineas, but there are questions on whether the three-year-old will stay the 12-furlong distance.
Stablemate SNOWFALL (9/2) used her previous Group 1 experience to her advantage on her seasonal reappearance, as she impressively made all to win the Musidora Stakes at York last month.
The daughter of Deep Impact did have several factors go her way, but she produced a bold front-running effort and held off two smart fillies to win by three and three-quarter lengths.
Stable companions DIVINELY (11/1), WILLOW (40/1) and LA JOCONDE (66/1) also make the trip across the Irish Sea for O’Brien.
ZEYAADAH (11/2) may have lost her unbeaten status to DUBAI FOUNTAIN (12/1) in the Cheshire Oaks last month but Roger Varian’s exciting filly had to concede weight and ground to Mark Johnston’s runner.
It’s not clear whether she be able to stay the distance of 1m4f, but she could well get the better of her rival at the very least at Epsom.
The beautifully-bred TEONA (6/1) has four and a quarter lengths to find on Snowfall after finishing third in the Musidora Stakes, while 1000 Guineas runner-up SAFFRON BEACH (10/1) could prove to be each-way value under Jane Chapple-Hyam.
MYSTERY ANGEL (25/1) will be aiming to build on her Pretty Polly Stakes success at Newmarket for George Boughey and Hugo Palmer’s OCEAN ROAD (33/1) makes the jump into Group 1 company on only her fourth start.
Oaks Trial winner SHERBET LEMON (33/1) and runner-up SAVE A FOREST (50/1) take their place in the field, while Martyn Meade’s TECHNIQUE (66/1) completes the field for Friday’s contest.
An interesting renewal of the Oaks lies in wait at Epsom on the opening day of the Derby Festival.
– Zeyaadah @ 11/2
– Saffron Beach E/W @ 10/1