THURSDAY at York’s Ebor Festival is very much Ladies’ Day, with the equine fillies and mares take centre stage.
The highlight of the afternoon is the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the second of three Group One contests at the meeting, and racegoers are in for a treat with Investec Oaks, Irish Oaks and King George heroine ENABLE lining up.
John Gosden’s filly has been absolutely brilliant this season.
A respectable third to stablemate Shutter Speed on her reappearance at Newbury in April, she then went on to land the Cheshire Oaks before storming clear at Epsom to defeat hot favourite Rhododendron.
An imperious display at the Curragh was followed by an even more dazzling effort at Ascot last month when destroying Ulysses, albeit in receipt of a stone from the Coral Eclipse winner.
Following some less than inspiring recent performances from some of France’s leading middle-distance contenders, Enable now finds herself as short as even money with Coral and Ladbrokes for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
She has been the star of the show this season and no-one can argue with her 2/7 price this afternoon. Is that value? No. Do I think she will be beaten? Also no.
Admittedly, there have been some big upsets on the Knavesmire in recent times.
It was just two years ago when 50/1 shot Arabian Queen shocked the racing world by beating 4/9 favourite Golden Horn in the Juddmonte International.
No horse is unbeatable – and Enable is unlikely to have it all her own way here – but you would need to be a very brave punter to take her on.
It is always interesting when the three-year-olds take on their elders and this is the first time Enable will do battle with the older fillies. The colts were no problem for her in the King George, though.
Roger Varian’s NEZWAAH looks the biggest danger.
The daughter of Dubawi didn’t look like a world beater last season, but she has stepped up to the plate this campaign.
A reappearance win in a Listed contest at Ayr in May was followed by an impressive win in the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh last month.
Even though that wasn’t the strongest Group One ever run, she showed a blistering turn of foot and is clearly on the upgrade.
Quick ground is important to her, so connections will be hoping conditions dry out following yesterday’s rain, while this will also be her first attempt at 1m4f.
She was well backed at the weekend, but surely that was just the each-way thieves trying to nick some place money and she’s now 7/1 with Coral.
I can see her landing another decent contest this season, although she is taking on the best middle-distance horse in Europe this afternoon and that looks a bridge too far, especially as she is conceding 3lbs to the favourite.
The battle for second place could be very interesting as you can’t rule out Sir Michael Stoute’s Breeders’ Cup winnerQUEEN’S TRUST.
She ran really well to be fourth in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot – in fact, on another day she may well have won that race.
Olivier Peslier suffered a luckless passage, but she was still closing on the likes of Highland Reel and Ulysses at the line.
This Dansili filly has some decent form in the book, including third in this contest 12 months ago.
You can put a line through her run in the Nassau last time, as the ground went against her, and there really isn’t much between her and Nezwaah, as her 8/1 price suggests.
The other three in the line-up all have questions to answer.
Coronet was a good winner at Royal Ascot but was disappointing behind her stablemate Enable in the Irish Oaks.
Although Abingdon has won over course and distance, that was only at Listed level and she’s been a beaten favourite on three of her last four runs.
Alluringly has had three goes against Enable and is yet to win. It would be a huge shock if she was to change that today.
Bill Esdaile’s Yorkshire Oaks 1-2-3
- Queen’s Trust