There is a familiar look to the betting for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on Friday with two fillies from Aidan O’Brien’s stable heading the market as the trainer looks for a ninth win in the Classic.
They arrive with very different profiles, however, as Snowfall raced seven times as a juvenile while Santa Barbara, the likely favourite, has just two runs in the book.
O’Brien’s suggestion that Santa Barbara “dominated” her galloping companions in the spring helped to send her off as joint-favourite for the 1,000 Guineas last month, and while her running-on fourth at Newmarket was a solid trial her odds still owe much to her trainer’s opinion, record and reputation. When Saffron Beach, who was in front of Santa Barbara at Newmarket, is three or four times her price, 5-2 is easy to resist.
Snowfall’s Musidora success was just her second win and the time was nothing special, but the Cheshire Oaks – Enable’s springboard to Oaks success four years ago – was strongly run and looked like a decent trial.
Dubai Fountain beat Zeyaadah (4.30) by a length there but Roger Varian’s filly was giving the winner 3lb and Jim Crowley had to wait for a gap to deliver his challenge. With that experience behind her, Zeyaadah looks a fair price at around 5-1 to reverse the form and give Varian his first Epsom Classic.
Epsom 2.00 There is no standout juvenile in the field for the Woodcote while the market leaders, Dairerin and Flaming Rib, have done their racing to date on flatter tracks and easier ground. Dusky Prince, though, made his impressive debut on good-to-firm at Brighton, where he won in a style that hinted at much better to come next time.
Epsom 2.35 The drop back to a mile for the first time since August 2019 saw Storting produce a career-best effort in the Thirsk Hunt Cup last month, and it was also noticeable that he settled better than has often been the case in the past.
Epsom 3.10 A fascinating renewal of the Coronation Cup as the highly progressive Al Aasy steps up to Group One company after two Group Three wins this year. He is odds-on to bridge the gap in class but the full brothers Japan and Mogul are stern opponents – there is very little between all three on ratings – and Ryan Moore’s decision to ride Japan means that Mogul can be backed at around 6-1. The four-year-old has yet to reach peak form in 2021 but he was a dual Group One winner last year and anything close to the form of his victory in the Grand Prix de Paris would make him a major player.
Epsom 3.45 Blue Cup was a big eye-catcher over this track and trip at the April meeting, finishing less than two-and-a-half lengths behind Victory Chime after finding his path repeatedly blocked inside the final quarter. He pulled too hard at York next time but still ran well and will wear a hood for the first time here.