David Ord has a horse-by-horse guide to Friday's Investec Oaks and he's siding with Maqsad in the Epsom Classic.
ANAPURNA: Overcame greenness to ultimately run out an impressive winner of the Lingfield trial. More to come and was strongest at the line last time there so stamina assured and should handle the track. Definitely a player but the education needs to be complete come Friday.
BLUE GARDENIA: Listed winner at two and satisfactory return when fifth in the Musidora at York. Shaped there as though she’ll relish stepping up to a mile-and-a-half but for all she’s in very good hands, she needs to take a gigantic leap forward to win a Classic.
DELPHINA: Some improvement when third to Tarnawa in the Blue Wind last time but still some way short of being even the Ballydoyle number one for this.
FLEETING: Another Aidan O’Brien representative who showed her mettle when winning the May Hill at Doncaster as a juvenile but was last of 15 in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on her return. That was always likely to be too sharp as she looks an Oaks filly but it’s back to the drawing board after that return.
FRANKELLINA: Showed plenty of signs of inexperience when third in the Musidora at York and likely to prove the best filly in that race given time. Connections stressed how little work they’d been able to get into her before that reappearance and she’s a potential significant improver but this is a stern test on only her third start.
LAVENDER’S BLUE: Exciting prospect who won on at Newmarket in April and took the anticipated step forward when shaking up Queen Power in warm Listed race at Newbury. There’s more to come and she’ll relish going up to a mile-and-a-half. One of the livelier outsiders.
MANUELA DE VEGA: Another who has place claims having met with trouble in running when second to Mehdaayih in the Cheshire Oaks. It’s a stretch to say she’d have shaken her up with a clear passage but there’s more to come from a scopey filly who is on the upgrade. Connections know an Oaks contender when they have one and are noticeably confident of a big run.
MAQSAD: Very exciting filly who treated her field with contempt when winning the Pretty Polly by five lengths. Runner-up Shambolic was beaten three lengths in the Height Of Fashion at Goodwood last week and third home I’ll Have Another was sixth (around four lengths adrift of winner Nausha) in the Musidora at York so that might not have been the strongest renewal at Newmarket. However, she looked every inch a Group One filly there, should stay and has plenty of speed.
MEHDAAYIH: Easily beat sole rival in Chelmsford handicap (off 84) on return before stepping up in trip and class to rout her field in the Cheshire Oaks. No surprise that connections opted to supplement her for this off the back of that performance and clearly a contender but looks short enough in the market for all that.
PEACH TREE: Experienced filly who ran well when fourth in the Blue Wind. Hard to see her giving the Ballydoyle team another win in this race but will ensure a nice even gallop.
PINK DOGWOOD: A sister to Irish Derby winner Latrobe, she showed a nice turn of foot win Listed race at Navan on her return. Ready to shine going up to a mile-and-a-half but needs to take a big step forward on form, finishing fifth in the Marcel Boussac (had run of the race from the front) on her only previous venture into Group One company.
SH BOOM: Sixth in the Queen Power race at Newbury last time but having never threatened to land a blow there, it’s hard to see her defying huge odds in this.
TARNAWA: Beaten just under two lengths by Pink Dogwood at Navan and went on to win the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas. Likeable filly and represents shrewd team but even so, looks up against it here.
TAUTEKE: Didn’t see the racecourse until November but won her second start at Chemlsford. Improved form on reappearance when second to Anapurna at Lingfield and will progress again but hard to make convincing case for why she’ll bridge the six lengths gap to her trial conqueror.
Mehdaayih and Pink Dogwood head the market and clearly have credible claims but MAQSAD made a deep impression when winning the Pretty Polly at Newmarket and can take the step up to Group One company in her stride. The form of the trial isn’t the strongest but she was a cut above her rivals and is open to any amount of improvement.
Anapurna rates a danger having hit the line so hard in the Lingfield trial but she looked to be a work in progress there and needs to be much more streetwise. Manuel de Vega and Lavender’s Blue are likely to go well at bigger prices.