Classic winner Hermosa plus impressive trial scorers Anapurna and Pink Dogwood feature among 22 fillies still engaged in the fillies’ Classic, the Investec Oaks, following today’s scratchings’ deadline.
The famous and historic race takes place over one mile, four furlongs and six yards at Epsom Downs on Friday, May 31st, Investec Ladies Day and day one of the Investec Derby Festival.
Anapurna, trained by John Gosden, could not have been more impressive when sauntering to a six-length victory over Tauteke (Roger Varian) in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial on May 11th. If successful at Epsom Downs, the Meon Valley Stud homebred daughter of Frankel would become the first winner of the Lingfield contest to go on success in the Investec Oaks since Ramruma in 1999.
Newmarket-based Gosden, the reigning champion Flat trainer, is chasing a third Investec Oaks victory following the wins of Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017). In addition to Anapurna, Gosden has also left in Enable’s half-sister Entitle who dead-heated for second behind Nausha (Roger Varian) in yesterday’s Musidora Stakes at York, and impressive Newbury maiden winner Star Catcher.
Gosden could also be represented by Mehdaayih, who was very impressive when winning the Listed Cheshire Oaks on May 8th by four and half lengths from Manuela De Vega (Ralph Beckett). The Frankel filly, is not currently entered in the Investec Oaks and would need supplementing at a cost of £30,000 at the six-day confirmation stage on Saturday, May 25th.
Ireland’s 21-time champion Flat trainer Aidan O’Brien is the most successful current handler in the Investec Oaks with seven wins – Forever Together was the most recent in 2018. There are five fillies from Ballydoyle going forward, headed by QIPCO 1,000 Guineasheroine Hermosa and Pink Dogwood, who recorded a comfortable victory in the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan on April 28th. Delphinia, last season’s May Hill Stakes winner Fleeting and Peach Tree complete O’Brien’s quintet.
There are eight Irish-trained fillies going forward in total. O’Brien’s son Joseph is responsible for two; last season’s Fillies’ Mile heroine Iridessa, who was eighth last time out in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, and Altair, who was a staying-on fifth behind Pink Dogwood at Navan.
Both fillies are sired by Investec Derby winners, with Iridessa a daughter of 2013 hero Ruler Of The World and Altair by 2014 scorer Australia. The duo are owned by Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez, who saw her colours carried to success in the 2015 Investec Oaks by shock winner Qualify.
Co Kilkenny-based O’Brien revealed today: “Iridessa has been doing fine since Newmarket and it is likely that she will run next in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
“There has been no decision made yet about whether or not she will run in the Investec Oaks.
“Altair ran well in an Oaks trial last time behind Pink Dogwood. I felt our filly was a bit unlucky, but she will have learnt plenty from that.
“We have left her in the Investec Oaks as we want to keep all options open.”
The other Irish-trained Investec Oaks contender is Tarnawa (Dermot Weld). Owned and bred by the Aga Khan, she was third to Pink Dogwood at Navan before improving to land the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on May 11th.
Newmarket handler William Haggas won the 2011 Investec Oaks with Dancing Rain and has a strong team going forward in 2019, headed by Maqsad, who followed up a Newmarket maiden victory in April with an impressive five-length success in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at the same course on May 5th. Haggas has also left in Frankellina, who dead-heated for second after being slow away in yesterday’s Musidora Stakes at York.
The third possible Haggas representative is Sea Of Faith, a very promising fourth on her debut at Sandown Park on April 26th. The daughter of Sea The Stars is set to start in Saturday’s Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury, which also features fellow Investec Oaks aspirants Lavender’s Blue (Amanda Perrett), Queen Power (Sir Michael Stoute), Sh Boom (Peter Chapple-Hyam) and Star Catcher.
Lavender’s Blue, impressive when successful on her debut at Newmarket on April 16th, races in the colours of Benny Andersson of ABBA and the Sea The Stars filly is out of Andersson’s Beatrice Aurore, a winner who was sixth in the 2011 Investec Oaks.
Completing the 22 fillies going forward are Blue Gardenia (David O’Meara), who was fifth in yesterday’s Musidora Stakes, and recent Beverley maiden scorer Mannaal (Simon Crisford).