Horse-by-horse guide to Friday's Investec Oaks at Epsom

Rhododendron
Rhododendron

We profile each of the 10 fillies set to go to post in Friday's Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Alluringly
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien, Jockey: Seamie Heffernan
 

Evens favourite but no match for Enable in the Cheshire Oaks last time, on the back of easy maiden win at the expense of dual subsequent winner. No obvious reason she'd reverse form with Enable but equally would appear set to improve for that experience and could run a decent race at a price.

Coronet
Trainer: John Gosden, Jockey: Andrea Atzeni

Taking maiden winner last year before Listed win against the colts at Newmarket, where Dante winner Permian was among those beaten off. Third on return to action, first run on soft and first go in a Group One, a performance which promised plenty now upped in distance on better ground. Player.

Daddys Lil Darling
Trainer: Kenneth McPeek, Jockey: Olvier Peslier

Fourth in Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (dirt) and beaten all four subsequent starts, three this year, including second in Kentucky Oaks last time. Clearly hard to get a handle on that form but was staying on nicely over nine furlongs and has more experience than most here, plenty of which has been in Grade One races.

Enable
Trainer: John Gosden, Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Cheshire Oaks winner who had previously shaped with promise at Newbury, suggesting that this trip would bring out the best in her as a daughter of King George winner Nathaniel whose dam was a fair sort over 10 furlongs. Really impressive at Chester, when ridden by Frankie Dettori for the first time and value for much further. Trainer won this race for the first time three years ago and solid chance of a second here.

Horseplay
Trainer: Andrew Balding, Jockey: Oisin Murphy

Won the Pretty Polly, which has been a key Oaks trial in recent years, and experience of that battle should serve her well having won maiden by 13 lengths as a two-year-old. Dam stayed two miles so step up to this trip can only help and while official rating leaves her with something to find, looks a fair price considering Newmarket effort and scope for improvement.

Isabel De Urbina
Trainer: Ralph Beckett, Jockey: Fran Berry

Second to Horseplay last time but that was just second start, and first since seven furlong maiden win at Ffos Las in September. Should be more to come, then, and trainer is a past master when it comes to middle distance fillies. Not a certain stayer on pedigree but shaped as though another two furlongs would've helped last time and not to be ruled out.

Natavia
Trainer: Roger Charlton, Jockey Pat Smullen

Beaten favourite on debut but won race on far side and stepped up to win when thrown into Listed waters next time, evidence of the regard in which she's held. Runner-up that day had started life in handicaps off a lowly mark so it's hard to say the form is especially strong, but there's clear potential for much more to come from a filly whose debut came just six weeks before this race. Short enough but could be anything.

Pocketfullofdreams
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien, Jockey: Donnacha O'Brien

Listed runner-up from the front the last twice and remains a maiden after five starts. Clearly good enough to pick up a race sooner or later but won't be this one, particularly as she's likely to play a pace-setting role for the favourite.

Rhododendron
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien, Jockey: Ryan Moore

Likely odds-on jolly who was a taking second in the 1000 Guineas, where jockey felt he should've won. Form of that race boosted emphatically by the winner last weekend and shaped as though a step up in trip would suit. Couldn't be called a certain stayer having yet to race beyond a mile, but classy dam won over 10 furlongs and this one the latest in a long line of Galileo progeny who will probably get the distance just fine. The clear form pick for a yard bidding for a third successive Oaks victory, and whose 2016 winner carried a very similar profile. Hard to beat.

Sobetsu
Trainer: Charlie Appleby, Jockey: William Buick

Convincing Group One winner in France last time (Coronet third) and looks a key player on that run. Granted, she was disappointing behind Rhododendron in the Fillies' Mile last year but notable she was sent off joint-favourite on the back of a sensational maiden win. Perhaps a third run in less than six weeks was too much to ask and could be worth another chance if conditions are deemed suitable enough for her to keep her place in the line-up.

Verdict


All eyes on RHODODENDRON as Ballydoyle bid to make it five-from-five in the UK/Irish Classics this year. 

She ran a big race in the Guineas, despite appearing in need of further, and should take all the beating if getting home as expected. There are echoes of Minding in her profile and a repeat is likely.

Those looking for a value alternative are pointed towards Sobetsu, who was thoroughly impressive last time and can confirm form with fast-finishing Coronet.

Charlie Appleby's filly could take second ahead of Enable, who looks set to thrive over this trip and will be hard to keep out of the frame.


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