Epsom is racing’s big stage this weekend with The Oaks on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Derby. Can anyone tear the Fillies’ Classic away from Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden?
The leading trainers have won the last five Epsom Oaks between them and in Pink Dogwood and Mehdaayih they have the pair jostling for market favouritism. In fact, between them, O’Brien and Gosden account for no less than six of the 14 fillies in the mix.
However, they may not have things all their own way!
This Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned contender has quickly come up the ranks in two starts this season and is now a fully-fledged Oaks contender.
She did nothing short of a demolition job on her Pretty Polly rivals at Newmarket last time out, her second success of this new season at Headquarters.
There appears plenty scope for more to come and Jim Crowley’s mount is a big player for William Haggas in a bid to give her powerful owner a fourth win in the race.
Gosden has two to fire at the target here and, unusually, Frankie Dettori is not partnering the main hope.
That is because the Italian overlooked Mehdaayih for the Cheshire Oaks, leaving Rab Havlin to enjoy the Roodee as she defied some trouble in running before powering away from her rivals.
The owners have decided to stick with their rider for the Oaks, as Havlin gets set to target a first Group 1 success of his career. This filly looks just the sort to improve again and send him very close.
For a lively outsider it might be worth taking a chance with Lavender’s Blue under the steer of champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa.
The Brazilian has ridden more winners at Epsom over the last five years than anyone else and he’s got a progressive partner here.
A daughter of Sea The Stars, she only won her maiden first-time out in April and has since gone close in Listed company.
There should be more to come going up in trip and, away from the market leaders, she might be one to run a big race.
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