SHEIKH Hamdan is in the privileged position of owning two of the top three in the market for the Investec Oaks on Friday 6 June but, while Taghrooda will almost certainly run, Tarfasha may not get the chance to give punters who have backed her off the boards in the last fortnight a run for their money.
Weld said the impressive recent Naas winner would wait for better ground at Royal Ascot or in the Irish Oaks if conditions didn’t improve significantly.
Taghrooda was given a good blow-out under Paul Hanagan, but Gosden is taking nothing for granted in regards to Coral’s 11/4 favourite, who has been a little uneasy in the market on the back of Marvellous’ impressive Irish 1000 Guineas win.
He said: “Some people have quite correctly questioned her form but she can only beat those put in front of her. I think there’s great depth to this year’s Oaks and you can make a case for about half a dozen of them. I was impressed with Marvellous in the Irish Guineas.” O'Brien said he was likely to have four challengers for the Investec Oaks, headed by Marvellous with Bracelet, Tapestry – beaten favourite in the 1000 Guineas – and Dazzling, the supporting cast. While last year’s Investec Derby hero Ruler Of The World was primed to give him a fifth successive Investec Coronation Cup and an eighth overall.
Ralph Beckett saddled a famous one-two in last year’s Oaks and his heroine that day Talent is also set to go for the Coronation Cup with Regardez and Honor Bound going for the Oaks.
Honor Bound won the Lingfield Oaks Trial despite being a filly that “doesn’t work well at home” and she'll be supplemented with Jim Crowley likely to take the ride. If he does, Regardez will be partnered by Richard Kingscote.
Ed Dunlop has won the Oaks twice with superstars Ouija Board and Snow Fairy. His main hope this time, Amazing Maria, has “lots of natural ability, but there are question marks about stepping up to a mile-and-a-half.”
Frankie Dettori will ride her but is currently without a mount for the Derby, after also missing out in 2013, and amused those in attendance by issuing a plea to O’Brien that he’s available before, joking: “I don’t want to go to Salisbury again!”
Musidora winner Madame Chiang also stretched her legs on the track and, while she’s “not the next superstar” according to David Simcock, “she’ll definitely handle the ground and will stay very well.”
William Buick takes the ride, as regular pilot Kieren Fallon will be on Godolphin’s Ithimal, and Simcock is hoping the ground stays soft as “there’s a huge amount of value in 14/1 for a horse that handles the ground as it is.”
Tickets for both the Friday and Saturday of the Investec Derby Festival are selling fast.
To book tickets visit www.epsomdowns.co.uk/tickets or call 0844 579 3004.