Bull Valley wins the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint from a strong field. Image: Candiese Marnewick
Aidan O’Brien’s bid for a third consecutive Investec Oaks will be led by Rhododendron as she featured among ten declarations for Friday’s Classic at Epsom.
Cartier Juvenile Filly of the year and Gr1 winner Rhododendron is a full sister to Flying The Flag at Bush Hill Stud. His first foals are due this year.
Having won the race for the last two years with Qualify and Minding, O’Brien’s quest for the hat-trick is spearheaded by 1,000 Guineas runner-up Rhododendron, and she is odds-on to deliver with 10-11 the best price available.
Although Asking, Hydrangea and Rain Goddess were scratched on Wednesday morning, O’Brien can still call on Alluringly and outsider Pocketfullofdreams to bolster his challenge.
O’Brien has swept all before him with the Classic generation this season but John Gosden is not shirking the challenge and will saddle two well-fancied fillies in Cheshire Oaks winner Enable and Prix Saint-Alary third Coronet.
Gosden said: “We’ve got to take him on and make it as competitive as we can. The last thing Aidan wants is a walkover – he likes his horses competing at the top level. Enable breezed on Monday morning and Coronet did so the day before. We are happy with both of them.”
He added: “Enable handled Chester very well and the other filly has done nothing wrong in her life. She came from a long way back in the Prix Saint-Alary to snatch third and has come on a lot for that race. She’s been looking to run over a mile and a half. She’s very much that type of filly and the trip will suit her very well.”
Godolphin’s Sobetsu, who beat Coronet in the Prix Saint-Alary, has been declared, as have Pretty Polly one-two Horseplay and Isabel De Urbina.
The field is completed by Roger Charlton’s Natavia and US raider Daddys Lil Darling, who finished runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks.
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