Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has a tremendous recent record in the Epsom Oaks and Pink Dogwood looks a worthy market leader at 11/4 with Unibet to further enhance it with victory in this year’s renewal of the 1m 4f fillies’ Classic on Friday (14:30).
Ireland’s 21-times champion Flat trainer has landed the Group 1 contest seven times, including three of the last four runnings and most recently with Forever Together 12 months ago.
His four runners this time around are headed by Pink Dogwood, a full-sister to last year’s Irish Derby victor Latrobe, who will be partnered by Ryan Moore.
This daughter of Camelot showed progressive form in four starts as a juvenile, chasing home the smart Lady Kaya on debut at The Curragh before finishing second of 14 to Trethias at that venue.
Pink Dogwood then made all to bolt up by seven lengths at Gowran Park and rounded off the campaign with a very unlucky in-running 1 1/2 lengths fifth of eight to Lily’s Candle in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac over 1m at Longchamp.
Impressive in Salsabil
That effort suggested she would come into her own as a three-year-old when stepped up in trip, and that view was confirmed when Pink Dogwood ran our the the Listed 1m 2f Salsabil Stakes at Navan on return to action last month.
After racing at the rear of mid-division, she was ridden to take up the running a furlong from home before staying on strongly under a hands and heels ride from Moore to beat Encapsulation by half-a-length.
It was a most taking display and the form has been boosted with the third home Tarnawa having since landed a Group 3.
The fourth filly home Fresnel was also beaten just 1 3/4 lengths when filling the same spot in the Musidora Stakes at York.
So, with the step up to 1m 4f sure to suit, and further progress looking assured, Pink Dogwood looks the one they all have to beat.
Mehdaayih the pick of Gosden pair
Newmarket handler John Gosden saddles two leading contenders in the shape of Anapurna and Mehdaayih as he bids to win the race for the third time following the successes of Taghrooda (2014) and Enable (2017).
Preference is for the latter, who can be backed at 3/1 with Coral and was supplemented at a cost of £30,000 following a very impressive victory over Manuela De Vega in the Listed 1m 3f Cheshire Oaks at Chester earlier in the month.
After racing in touch travelling strongly, this daughter of Frankel made smooth headway out wide to take up the running approaching the final furlong.
When jockey Ron Havlin then asked her to go about her business and put the race to bed, Mehdaayih quickened instantly and forged clear to win going away by 4 1/2 lengths.
She hit the line hard and won with tons in hand, leaving the impression that she was well worth a crack at this level after now landing her last three starts.
Mehdaayih is clearly progressing at a rate of knots and a beautifully balanced filly who should have no problem with the undulating track. There is simply nothing not to like about her profile for this test.
Anapurna, who is also by the mighty Frankel, was impressive too when landing the Listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield Park by six lengths from Tauteke.
She was well on top at the finish and still looks far from the finished article, so with Frankie Dettori once again in the saddle looks a big player and is a best-price 13/2 with Ladbrokes.
Maqsad an improving sort
The Hamdan Al Maktoum owned Maqsad, 13/2 with Betfred, is another progressive sort with claims in a wide-open looking renewal in which 14 are set to go to post.
This William Haggas trained daughter of Siyouni shaped with promise to be placed in two starts as a juvenile, including when a 4 3/4 lengths third of nine to the aforementioned Mehdaayih at Yarmouth.
Maqsad then made a winning return to action at Newmarket when showing a willing attitude to dig deep and get the better of a smart prospect in the shape of Twist N’Shake.
That success saw connections pitch her into Listed company next time up at the same venue and Maqsad improved again to run out a facile five-length winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes over 1m 2f.
After making smooth headway two from home to take up the running on the bridle approaching the final furlong, she scooted clear when shaken-up by Jim Crowley to get the job done in style.
The runner-up Shambolic has since run well to finish runner-up in a Listed contest at Goodwood, so that gives the form a solid look.
That win has earned Maqsad an official rating of 109 – the highest in the line-up. It commands her the utmost respect, but the one big question mark is whether she will stay the 1m 4f trip of this as on breeding it’s not certain that she will.
Frankellina appeals each-way
Haggas also saddles another interesting contender in Frankellina, a lightly-raced an unexposed daughter of Frankel who appeals as the each-way value in the race at 16/1 with BetVictor.
After staying on strongly to win her sole start as a juvenile at Yarmouth by a head, Frankellina ran a cracker when stepped up into Group 3 company and finishing a dead-heat second of 10 to Nausha in the 1m 2f Musidora Stakes at York 16 days ago.
Things started off badly when Frankellina lost vital ground at the start when slowly away. However, jockey James Doye didn’t panic and gave her plenty of time to recover and regain her composure.
Frankellina then came with a storming run to hold every chance inside the final furlong, before being unable to find any extra 100 yards from home. She went down by just a neck.
Given how the race panned out, this was a cracking effort which can be upgraded; so, with the step up to 1m 4f expected to suit, it would be no surprise to see Frankellina improve markedly again and outrun her odds.
Another with an each-way shout is the Ralph Beckett trained Manuela De Vega, who kept on nicely under tender handling to finish a 4 1/2 lengths runner-up to Medaayih in the Cheshire Oaks having not enjoyed the clearest of passages.
She had to shoulder a 3lb penalty that day, so off level weights this time is entitled to get much close to the winner. Manuela De Vega can be backed at a best-price 14/1 with Unibet.