TRAINER Aidan O’Brien saddles only the one runner in Saturday’s Cazoo Derby but fires five bullets at this afternoon’s Cazoo Oaks (4.30pm) in an attempt to land the Group One prize for a ninth time.
His team are headed by the much-touted Santa Barbara who finished a close-up fourth in last month’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas on only her second ever racecourse start.
That was a huge run considering her lack of experience and connections have always felt that we will only see the best of her as she steps up in trip.
The question is whether she truly wants this extra half mile in distance as she seems to possess plenty of speed.
Her half-brother Order Of Australia shaped as if he needed a trip like this but was ultimately seen at his best at the back end of last season dropping back to a mile.
That’s enough of a concern for me to leave her alone at just 5/2 and if she’s half as good as connections think she might be, the others may be chasing her shadows.
Looking at the rest of his team and the evergreen Frankie Dettori steps in to partner impressive Musidora Stakes winner Snowfall.
She benefited from a peach of a ride from the front in a tactically run affair and left her two-year-old form well behind.
Form figures of 3814598 resemble a telephone number rather than a Classic preparation, but we have seen Ballydoyle fillies take huge steps forward in the past.
There is no doubting she is a leading contender and she shouldn’t be far away.
However, at as short as 9/2 I’m prepared to look deeper in the market for a bit more value as O’Brien has won this with supposedly unfancied types like Was (2012) and Qualify (2015) in the past.
DIVINELY is another who failed to set the world alight as a juvenile, although she did land a Group Three pot at the Curragh last August.
The market told us she wasn’t fully wound up for her reappearance run in the Lingfield Oaks Trial and she was beaten two lengths in fourth behind Sherbet Lemon.
She would have learnt plenty that day and the market move that has seen her backed from 25/1 a week ago to a best-priced 11/1 suggests she has taken giant strides forward at home.
Aidan O’Brian commented on a press Zoom call this week that he had been delighted with her form and ‘figures’ at home backing up that positive move in the betting.
On bare form she has a bit to find with the leading players, but with plenty of firms offering four places for each-way betting, she appeals as a speculative option.
Roger Varian saddles three headed by the hugely talented Teona who was far too keen at York. She will need to settle in a first-time hood and will be competitive if she does.
He is also responsible for Zeyaadah who may have been a bit unlucky behind Dubai Fountain at Chester.
She will build on that but isn’t nailed on to be suited by the step up in trip.
Divinely (E/W) 4.30pm Epsom