John Gosden senses the Investec Oaks outcome between his two fillies Mehdaayih and Anapurna may boil down to which one handles Epsom’s unique contours the best.
Both head to Surrey on the back of impressive trial wins, with Mehdaayih supplemented for Classic glory after winning the Cheshire Oaks so well under Robert Havlin.
Anapurna looked a stout stayer when landing the Lingfield Oaks Trial, and she will once again be ridden by Frankie Dettori.
“Both fillies won with some authority, and Anapurna would be more of the staying type of filly,” said Gosden.
“Both are athletic fillies and are light on their feet, so should handle the track – but when you are in the thick of it coming down the hill jostling for position, that is a different ball game. You have got to be on your correct lead straightaway.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Pink Dogwood is Mehdaayih’s chief market rival on Friday, and has always been the number one contender for Ballydoyle.
“We loved her last year – we always thought she was going to be a middle-distance filly, and we always thought she was going to be our main Oaks filly,” said O’Brien.
“She was only just ready to start when she won at Navan, and that was a slowly-run race. She has come forward from that.”
O’Brien also runs Delphinia, Fleeting and Peach Tree.
Ralph Beckett has a good record in the race and is represented this year by Manuela De Vega, second to Mehdaayih at Chester.
“We didn’t go there (Chester) expecting to win – we went there more in hope than expectation,” said Beckett.
“I was very pleased with the way it went, and Harry Bentley gave her a good introductory ride back on only her third run – although she is quite a streetwise filly. She needed to go round there and get in between horses again.
“She finished out her race well, and I was very pleased. We nursed her there, and she did two easy bits of work before Chester, but we have gone at her properly since – and I expect her to be a lot more competitive.”
William Haggas runs Frankellina and Maqsad. The latter has won both her races this season – but she does have a stamina doubt.
Owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “I think William Haggas has made no secret that she is very effective over a mile and a quarter, but he doesn’t know if she will be as effective over a mile and a half.
“She is by a fast horse (Siyouni), who does get them to stay, but there is plenty of stamina on the dam’s side, so she might well stay further – whether she will be as effective at that trip only time will tell.
“We know she has got the class, although I don’t think it was a fantastic contest she won the other day – and that was slightly confirmed with the second being beaten at Goodwood.
“She has shown a lot of improvement and she has plenty of scope, She is a big, tall filly – so the track is not sure to suit her, and that is another imponderable. But as every jockey says, if the horse is travelling they generally handle the track.”
Roger Varian relies on Tauteka, who went for a course gallop at Breakfast with the Stars and was second to Anapurna at Lingfield, rather than his Musidora winner Nausha.
“She has run three times, twice on the all-weather, and her first run on the turf was at Lingfield – so although she has three races under her belt, she still lacks a bit of experience,” said Varian.
“I just wanted to give her another day out (at Breakfast with the Stars).”