Trainers Jane Chapple-Hyam, Roger Varian and Hugo Palmer have given upbeat assessments of the chances of their runners in the Oaks on Friday.

The race could be a Ballydoyle benefit as Aidan O'Brien is responsible for five of the 14 runners, including the first two in the market - Santa Barbara and Snowfall.

Unbeaten in two starts as a juvenile, the Chapple-Hyam-trained Saffron Beach was narrowly beaten on her return to action in the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket before performing best of the British when runner-up to Aidan O’Brien’s Mother Earth in the 1000 Guineas.

While a tilt at the Irish Guineas was considered, connections ultimately decided to step up half a mile in distance for a second tilt at classic glory following a pleasing racecourse gallop at Epsom last week.

Chapple-Hyam said: “The race and the other horses won’t bother her – it will be the crowds as she has never seen a crowd.

“I will probably put a red hood on her until the start, just because she hasn’t seen a crowd. The way to dot the I’s and cross the T’s is to keep the lid on her as she is strong to lead up.

“It is a big thrill to be part of this, so let’s hope we can go there and do the best.”

Another leading lady of the flat out to claim a slice of history is Hollie Doyle.

The record-breaking jockey will be riding in the race for the first time aboard Archie Watson’s Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Sherbet Lemon.

“We always knew she wanted a trip as she is by Lemon Drop Kid and is out of Famous, who was pretty decent herself, so we knew she was going to have the quality,” said Doyle.

“They had things their own way up front at Lingfield, which was a big help to her being able to do everything in her own rhythm coming down that hill. Whether she will be able to dictate like that around Epsom, I’m not so sure, but we will see.

“She has been around Lingfield and she handled that okay, despite being a bit green – I don’t see Epsom being a massive problem.

“There are a few that you would have doubts about stamina, but Sherbet Lemon does everything right to ensure she gets it. She settles and she travels – I can’t knock her.”


Roger Varian possesses a strong hand, with market principals Teona and Zeyaadah joined by outsider Save A Forest.

Teona was far too keen to do herself justice when strongly fancied for the Musidora Stakes at York, so it testament to her latent ability that she still managed to finish third.

Varian said: “We take the positives out of the Musidora run. These are trials at the end of the day and if you’re going to get things wrong it’s better to do it in the trial than on the big day.

“I think she’s extremely talented and I hope that on the day she won’t make the sort of juvenile mistakes she made at York.”

Zeyaadah lost her unbeaten record when runner-up to Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain in the Cheshire Oaks, having endured a troubled passage.

Save A Forest, meanwhile, finished runner-up to Sherbet Lemon at Lingfield.

“I hope she (Zeyaadah) will stay. I suppose she’s not guaranteed to on pedigree, but her running style should give her a chance and she slugged out a Montrose Stakes last year in the style of a filly who we think should stay a mile and a half,” Varian added.

“There’s definitely a bit (of improvement) in the locker. She took an age to come to herself this spring and I only really got happy with her about a fortnight before Chester.

“I’m very happy with Save A Forest’s condition and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see her run a nice race.”


Also in the mix is Hugo Palmer’s Lingfield third Ocean Road, who was another to enjoy a gallop at Epsom last week.

Palmer said: “She is an utterly beautiful filly to look at. She is exceptionally balanced and has beautiful depth.

“She is a half-sister to a dual Group 1 winner over a mile and a half in Wigmore Hall and she is by a Derby winner (Australia). When you have got all those things, you are dreaming right from the start.

“I’m always a glass half-full kind of person and I try to dream what is the best a horse can be, then we go to Plan B to Z after Plan A hasn’t worked!

“Oisin (Murphy) made his move early (at Lingfield) in the hope he would give the filly time to get there. She got there in four strides, which caught him by surprise.

“She rather used her winning kick on ground softer than ideal, then just didn’t quite get home, but I think she will stay very well.”