Oaks shaping up with two weeks to go
With just over a fortnight until the 2015 Investec Derby Festival gets underway, the countdown intensifies today with the unveiling of the latest acceptors for the £450,000 Group One Investec Oaks.
There are 25 three-year-old fillies going forward for the Investec Oaks, which takes place over the same course as the Investec Derby the following day.
Legatissimo (David Wachman IRE) currently heads the market for the premier British fillies’ Classic at 7/2 with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
The daughter of Danehill Dancer landed the first British fillies’ Classic of the season, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket on May 3, and looks set to try and become the 48th filly to complete the Newmarket/Epsom Downs Classic double.
The last filly to do the double was Godolphin’s Kazzia in 2002. Other fillies to have lined up in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and are still engaged at Epsom Downs are the fourth home Malabar (Mick Channon, 25/1 with Coral), 10th Local Time (Saeed bin Suroor), 12th Jellicle Ball (John Gosden, 20/1) and the 13th Qualify (Aidan O’Brien IRE).
John Gosden landed his first Investec Oaks in 2014 with Taghrooda and he looks to hold a strong hand again this year. In addition to Jellicle Ball, the Newmarket handler could also be represented by Group Three Musidora Stakes scorer Star Of Seville (7/1) and Jazzi Top (9/1), who like Taghrooda won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket.
Aidan O’Brien, seeking a fifth Investec Oaks victory, still has seven engaged. The pick of the champion trainer of Ireland’s septet look to be impressive Listed Cheshire Oaks scorer Diamondsandrubies (6/1), last year’s Group One Prix Marcel Boussac heroine Found (7/1), recent 1,000 Guineas Trial winner Kissed by Angels (14/1) and Musidora Stakes runner-up Together Forever (7/1). Qualify, Lingfield Oaks Trial third Wedding Vow and Cocoon complete O’Brien’s team.
There are 11 Irish-trained entries in total going forward. In addition to Legatissimo and the Aidan O’Brien-trained contingent, there are two from Jessica Harrington in Listed winner Bocca Baciata (12/1) and Jack Naylor (20/1), who has yet to start this season but was third to Found in the 2014 Prix Marcel Boussac having previously beaten Legatissimo in the Listed Flame Of Tara Stakes. Raydara (Mick Halford) was an impressive Group Two winner last year and could warm-up for Epsom by running in the Irish 1,000 Guineas this weekend
There is one remaining entry from France, Al Naamah (Andre Fabre, 20/1). The full-sister to 2012 Investec Oaks heroine Was cost five million guineas as a yearling and went down narrowly on her seasonal reappearance when the short-neck runner-up in the Group Three Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud on May 13.
Newmarket handler Ed Dunlop saddled two of the best winners of the Investec Oaks in the 21stcentury with Ouija Board (2004) and Snow Fairy (2010). They both went on to enjoy Group One glory around the world.
This year Dunlop has left in Arethusa. The three-year-old Rip Van Winkle filly was successful on two of her three starts last year, taking a seven-furlong maiden on Newmarket’s July Course on July 19 before a nursery victory over the same distance at Goodwood on August 22.
She is set to get her 2015 campaign underway at Goodwood this Thursday, May 21, in the eight-runner Listed Height Fashion Stakes over just short of 10 furlongs. Snow Fairy won the same contest prior to her Epsom Downs victory five years ago.
Dunlop reported: “We are in the position with Arethusa at the moment where we don’t quite know where we are with her so that is why we have decided to go down this route.
“We have chosen to go back to Goodwood as she won there last year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see how she gets on. The Goodwood race looks pretty competitive unfortunately!
“I am happy with the way she has progressed but we just need to know where we stand with her.”
Another dual Investec Oaks-winning trainer Sir Michael Stoute looks to have a very useful filly in Crystal Zvezda (5/1), who was the impressive winner of the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury on Saturday for owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild.
Pamona (Luca Cumani, 20/1) was a staying-on third in that contest and goes forward alongside stable companion Lady Of Dubai, who was a Listed runner-up in 2014 and is also due to line-up at Goodwood on Thursday along with Jellicle Ball.
Another trainer to have won the Investec Oaks twice is Ralph Beckett and he could run Lingfield Oaks Trial runner-up Bellajeu (25/1), while the other fillies still enaged are Godolphin’s Very Special (Saeed bin Suroor, 25/1), What Say You (Rae Guest) and Teosroyal (Clive Brittain).
There is a final chance for fillies to be added to the Investec Oaks field at the £30,000 supplementary entry stage on Saturday, May 30, when the six-day confirmation stage also takes place.
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