The Epsom Oaks leading contenders

Noon Star daughter of Derby hero Galileo and an Oaks contender

At the weekend the six day entries were confirmed for the Oaks at Epsom on Friday. Fifteen horses remain, including the usual strong contingent from Ballydoyle. We analyse the fillies most likely to land the big prize on the Downs.

DIVINELY

Did win a Group 3 at the Curragh last year, but was well beaten in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the same track and could only finish fourth on her reappearance in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield. She was beginning to get going though in the closing stages and the trip will be no issue.

Aidan O’Brien has done really well with progeny of the dam Red Evie, notably Found the 2016 Arc heroine, whilst the fact she is a daughter of Galileo needs no further explanation. She is not the most fancied of the O’Brien contingent but will have plenty going in her favour at this distance.

DUBAI FOUNTAIN

Took advantage of a typically canny Franny Norton ride around Chester to win the Cheshire Oaks earlier this month. There is plenty in her pedigree to suggest she will stay this 12f trip strongly, with horses like Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter and useful hurdler Leoncavallo in the family.

However she was beaten on all five attempts in pattern company as a juvenile, including a fourth in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket and the likelihood is she will find a couple too good at the highest level once more.

NOON STAR

Has a pedigree of the highest calibre being a daughter of dual Derby hero Galileo and out of Midday, second here in an Oaks and Coronation Cup and a multiple Group 1 winner inclduing over 12f at York.

She chased home Snowfall in the Musidora having raced keenly off a slow pace. However she was keeping on well at the finish and if she can contain her enthusiasm for the closing stages, looks set to play a major hand here. She impressed many when winning at Wetherby in the spring, albeit at a very lowly level and could provide Michael Stoute with a first Oaks winner since 1987.

SAFFRON BEACH

Has run all four of her starts at her local Newmarket track, where most significantly she was a game second in the 1000 Guineas. Having got outpaced in the dip she was keeping on well late, but whether she will get 12f is unknown.

There is very little info to be gleaned from her dam, whilst her sire New Bay did win over 12f and was placed in an Arc but was at his best over 10f, including a win in the French Derby.

SANTA BARBARA

Very much a talking horse over the winter, she was made a warm order for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket off the back of just a single maiden win at the Curragh last autumn. Given her odds, you could argue that fourth place was something of a disappointment, but forgetting the market support, she actually ran a race full of promise given her inexperience.

A step up in trip looks in order and she is a daughter of Camelot winner of the 2012 Derby. However the best progeny of her dam are best at shorter distances. Order of Australia for example won the Breeders Cup Mile last year, whilst Iridessa won two Group 1 races at 10f. The jury is still out therefore on whether 12f is within her range.

SNOWFALL

She used the run of the race at York a couple of weeks ago when making all to win a slowly run Musidora Stakes. She certainly looks a stronger individual than last year when she was beginning to look exposed at the top level, with a handful of heavy defeats.

She will undoubtedly run her race at Epsom, but the suspicion is she might lack the class of a typical Classic winner.

TEONA

Ran third in that Musidora behind Snowfall, but the big issue with her is her temperament. She played up before the race and then pulled fiercely for much of the first half of the contest. That she was able to run on well in the closing stages is to her credit and suggests that she should stay 12f no problem.

Her breeding certainly indicates as much, being an offspring of the legend Sea The Stars and out of Ambivalent, a Group 1 winner over 12f, and who stayed further than that. However she will need to have grown up considerably mentally from York to take a hand here.

ZEYAADAH

Was beaten a length by Dubai Fountain in the Cheshire Oaks, but to most observers she was the one to take out of the race. She had to weave through beaten rivals from the back of the field in the closing stages and was running on stoutly at the finish to suggest stamina is a strong point.

Her breeding does not indicate as much stamina though in the pedigree being a daughter of mile Tamayuz, whilst her unraced dam has largely produced horses in the 1m-10f bracket.

CONCLUSION

There are question marks over the leading contenders for one reason or another and this is a race that has thrown up a few minor shocks over the years. Divinely and Noon Star definitely merit further attention with preference at this stage fot the latter.

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