One of the most competitive renewals of the Vodafone Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) for years is in prospect at Epsom Downs, following today's forfeit stage in which 27 fillies--four more than at this time last year --remained in the £350,000 classic. The June 7 race will be run at 1 1/2 miles.
The Michael Stoute-trained Islington hardened as ante-post favorite after her victory in last week's Tattersalls Musidora Stakes (Eng-III) at York but she looks set to face no shortage of rivals with legitimate claims.
The Musidora runner-up, Spinnette, has been kept in the race by trainer Jeremy Noseda as has Mellow Park, an amazing 11-length winner of Goodwood's Victor Chandler Lupe Stakes on May 22.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien, successful last year with Imagine and three years earlier with Shahtoush, still has six in this year's race, including Sagitta One Thoussand Guineas (Eng-I) fifth Quarter Moon and Kournakova, who could both run in Sunday's Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh.
Aqualina and Sun Seasons, trained in Ireland respectively by Jim Bolger and Dermot Weld, along with the French-trained Behreyma add further international appeal.
Sagitta One Thousand Guineas winner Kazzia is Godolphin's sole representative with the Newmarket runner-up, Snowfire, also engaged.
Marcus Tregoning is represented by the Pretty Polly Stakes winner Esloob and Cheshire Oaks winner Shadow Dancing, who would be a poignant Epsom victor. The Unfuwain filly was bred and part-owned by Willie Carson and legendary trainer Maj. Dick Hern, who died May 22.
Among the lightly-raced contenders are the Peter Harris-trained Persian Lass, easy winner of a Salisbury maiden a week ago, and the well-regarded Java, who finished second on her only start earlier this month for trainer Henry Cecil, who has won the Oaks seven times.
There is a £20,000 supplementary entry stage for the Oaks on May 31.
THE VODAFONE EPSOM OAKS
(Eng-I), June 7, 1 1/2 miles, 3-year-old fillies
Horse Owner Trainer
ALEXANDER THREE D Miriam O'Callaghan Barry Hills
AQUALINA Harry Dobson Jim Bolger
ATARAMA The Thoroughbred Corporation John Dunlop
BEHREYMA H H Aga Khan Alain de Royer Dupre
COZY MARIA Mrs Anthony Oppenheimer John Gosden
ESLOOB Hamdan Al Maktoum Marcus Tregoning
FRAGRANT VIEW Khalid Abdulla Barry Hills
ISLINGTON Lord Weinstock Michael Stoute
JAVA Newgate Stud Henry Cecil
KAZZIA Godolphin Saeed bin Suroor
KOURNAKOVA Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor Aidan O'Brien
LADY'S SECRET Mrs Elizabeth Roberts Barry Hills
MAMEYUKI Brian Voak Clive Brittain
MARYINSKY Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier Aidan O'Brien
MELLOW PARK Mrs Seamus Burns Jeremy Noseda
MOON SAFARI Michael Tabor & Sue Magnier Aidan O'Brien
MUSIC CLUB William S Farish III John Gosden
PAQUITA Sue Magnier & John Jones Jr Aidan O'Brien
PERSIAN LASS Dr Jamal Ahmadzadeh Peter Harris
QUARTER MOON Roisin Henry & Sue Magnier Aidan O'Brien
RED RIOJA Dr Karen Sanderson Eoghan O'Neill
SHADOW DANCING Mrs Hugh Dalgety & Partners Marcus Tregoning
SNOWFIRE Neil Jones John Dunlop
SPINNETTE Dr Tony Ryan Jeremy Noseda
STARBOURNE Katie Magnier Aidan O'Brien
SUMMER WINE S Fustok Chris Wall
SUN SEASONS Moyglare Stud Farms Dermot Weld