fillies to line up for The Oaks
A field of 11 three-year-old fillies is due to go to post for the exciting 2015 renewal of the £450,000 Group One Investec Oaks (4.30pm), staged over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs on Friday, 5th June, day one of the Investec Derby Festival.
Legatissimo (David Wachman IRE/Ryan Moore) is the favourite with Coral, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival. The daughter of Danehill Dancer landed the first fillies’ Classic of the season, the mile QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on 3 May, and will attempt to become the 48th filly to win both elite races.
Closely behind Legatissimo in the betting is Crystal Zvezda (Sir Michael Stoute/Richard Hughes), who caught the eye with a stunning reappearance in the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury on 16 May.
Meon Valley Stud’s black and while silks have been a familiar sight on British racecourses since the 1970s, with many of the best performers from the Weinfeld family’s breeding operation descending from the legendary foundation broodmare Reporcolor, who herself finished fourth in the 1979 Oaks.
This year the stud, whose horses run in the name of Helena Springfield Limited, is represented by Jazzi Top (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori). The daughter of Danehill Dancer is out of Group One winner Zee Zee Top, while her grand-dam is 1986 Irish Oaks heroine and Epsom Oaks fourth Colorspin. Reprocolor is her great grand-dam.
Jazzi Top has been successful on two of her four starts. After finishing third on two outings as a juvenile, she made a winning reappearance at Kempton Park on 1 April, when taking a mile Polytrack maiden, and laid down her Investec Oaks credentials when landing the 10-furlong Listed Tweenhills Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on 3 May, defeating Zanda by a length and a half.
The two most recent winners of the Investec Oaks – Talent (2013) and Taghrooda (2014, pictured) – both won the Newmarket contest before going on to Classic glory at Epsom Downs.
The stud has twice gone close to Investec Oaks success in recent years, with Shirocco Star going down by a neck to Was in 2012 and Izzi Top, a half-sister to Jazzi Top, finishing the staying-on third to Dancing Rain in 2011.
Mark Weinfeld, for the family-owned Meon Valley Stud, said: “To have another contender for the Investec Oaks is a great position to be in.
“Our aim is to breed top-class horses, so when it actually happens and you breed a racehorse good enough to line up with the best, it is very thrilling for all the team. It’s what we breeders dream of.
“It really been quite an incredible success story and journey, especially bearing in mind that the 2012 Oaks runner-up Shirocco Star also hails from the Reprocolor family.
“I think Jazzi Top and Izzi Top are fairly similar types, excepting that Izzi Top liked some cut in the ground whereas Jazzi seems happy on all surfaces.
“I am very excited ahead of Friday but not at all confident! We don’t really know how good Jazzi Top is, but she won an Oaks trial so is entitled to take her chance.
“Even the best filly on the day needs luck in running, in what can be a tough and rough race.”
Jazzi Top had a spin around Epsom Downs on 26 May when the Breakfast With The Stars event took place.
Besides Legatissimo, there are four more Irish-trained contenders. Jack Naylor (Jessica Harrington IRE/Fran Berry) is third favourite with Coral. Placed at Group One level in 2014, she made a pleasing seasonal reappearance when finishing strongly to take fourth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh last month.
Aidan O’Brien, seeking a fifth Investec Oaks, has three declared runners. The Ballydoyle trio are impressive Listed Cheshire Oaks winner Diamondsandrubies (Seamie Heffernan), last year’s Group One Fillies’ Mile heroine Together Forever (Joseph O’Brien) and Qualify (Colm O’Donoghue), a Group Three winner last year but down the field in both the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas and Irish 1,000 Guineas this season.
There is also a French-trained runner in Al Naamah (Andre Fabre FR/Gregory Benoist). A full-sister to the 2012 Investec Oaks heroine Was, the Al Shaqab Racing-owned filly cost a record five million guineas as a yearling. She was narrowly defeated on her seasonal reappearance, when going down by a short-neck in the Group Three Prix Cleopatre at Saint-Cloud on 13 May and also gained experience of the Epsom Downs track when working on the morning of Breakfast With The Stars.
Star Of Seville (John Gosden/William Buck), who worked with Jazzi Top at Breakfast With The Stars, and Lady Of Dubai (Luca Cumani/Adam Kirby) have both won recognised trials for the Investec Oaks, with the former taking the Group Three Musidora Stakes at York and the latter successful in Goodwood’s Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes.
Completing the line-up is Bellajeu (Ralph Beckett/Andrea Atzeni). Attempting to become the first maiden to capture the Investec Oaks since Sun Princess 32 years ago, she finished second last time out in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial.
Horse / Owner / Trainer/ Jockey
1) (3) AL NAAMAH (IRE) / Al Shaqab Racing / Andre Fabre FR / Gregory Benoist
2) (7) BELLAJEU / QRL, Sheikh Suhaim Al Thani, M Al Kubaisi / Ralph Beckett / Andrea Atzeni
3) (8) CRYSTAL ZVEZDA / Sir Evelyn De Rothschild / Sir Michael Stoute / Richard Hughes
4) (5) DIAMONDSANDRUBIES (IRE) / Roisin Henry, Sue Magnier / Aidan O’Brien IRE / Seamie Heffernan
5) (9) JACK NAYLOR / Gerard Byrne / Jessica Harrington IRE / Fran Berry
6) (10) JAZZI TOP / Helena Springfield Ltd / John Gosden / Frankie Dettori
7) (11) LADY OF DUBAI / Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum / Luca Cumani / Adam Kirby
8) (1) LEGATISSIMO (IRE) / Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier / David Wachman IRE / Ryan Moore
9) (2) QUALIFY (IRE) / Mrs C C Regalado-Gonzalez / Aidan O’Brien IRE / Colm O’Donoghue
10) (6) STAR OF SEVILLE / Lady Bamford / John Gosden / William Buick
11) (4) TOGETHER FOREVER (IRE) / Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith / Aidan O’Brien IRE / Joseph O’Brien
11 declared runners
The undercard on Investec Ladies’ Day features the £70,000 Group Three Investec Diomed Stakes (3.10pm, seven runners) over an extended mile. Arod (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Andrea Atzeni) looks to have a leading chance after producing a career-best performance when third in the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on May 16.
Custom Cut (David O’Meara/Ryan Moore) shoulders a 5lb penalty after winning the Group Two Sandown Mile last month, while last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up Shifting Power (Richard Hannon/Richard Hughes) comes in on the back of a Listed victory at Windsor.
Fillies and mares clash over the same course and distance in the opening £70,000 Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes (2.00pm, 10 runners). Odeliz (Karl Burke/William Buick) is bidding to go one better after going down by a length to Thistle Bird 12 months ago, whileDon’t Be (Sir Mark Prescott/Luke Morris) is on an upward curve after capturing a Listed event at Goodwood.
Aces (Charlie Hills/Andrea Atzeni) is set to face eight rivals in the £40,000 Investec Surrey Stakes over seven furlongs. They include Listed scorers Code Red (William Muir/Martin Dwyer) and Lexington Times (Richard Hannon/Pat Dobbs), plus Heron Stakes runner-up Secret Brief (Charlie Appleby/William Buick).