Yorkshire Oaks Runners Guide & Tips: We look at the seven runners doing battle at York

Star filly Snowfall is a warm order to land Group 1 glory at York.
Star filly Snowfall is a warm order to land Group 1 glory at York.

Aidan O'Brien's star three-year-old filly Snowfall is a red-hot favourite for the Yorkshire Oaks, which is the feature race on day two of York's Ebor Festival, but he will have some classy rivals to beat in the Group 1 contest, and we take a look at the runners lining up in a mouth-watering contest...

1. Albaflora (R Ryan/R Beckett)

Kicking off this season with a hugely impressive seven-length victory in a Listed event at Ascot, Albaflora then failed to land any sort of blow in top class company next time out as she finished fourth in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs. Sent to Royal Ascot and tasked with the Hardwicke Stakes, Ralph Beckett's four-year-old was no match for Wonderful Tonight in that Group 2 event as she could only finish fifth. Locking horns with Wonderful Tonight on her last outing in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Albaflora was a well beaten third in that event, and with her having to take on Wonderful Tonight again on Thursday then she is up against it.

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2. Wonderful Tonight (W Buick/D Menuisier)

Highly progressive four-year-old filly that is going in search of a fifth win on the bounce in what is mouth-watering renewal of the Yorkshire Oaks. Having produced a fine career best to claim glory in the Fillies' & Mares' Stakes on British Champions Day at the end of last season, Wonderful Tonight continued her progression on her comeback run this term as she bounded to victory in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. The daughter of Le Havre than maintained her fabulous winning streak by cruising to a two-length success in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood. Now tasked with taking on some of the premier three-year-old fillies in training, Wonderful Tonight will need to give significant weight away to her younger adversaries, but David Menuisier's starlet has shown no signs of stopping and she has to be a major player in this event.

3. Divinely (W Lordan/A O'Brien)

One of three Aidan O'Brien-trained runners, Divinely has some smart form on her record, but will certainly be playing second fiddle to stablemate Snowfall here. A Group 3 winner as a juvenile, this daughter of Galileo produced a career best when finishing a fine third in the Oaks at Epsom, but was miles behind stablemate Snowfall, who blitzed the field that day. Chasing home Snowfall on her next start in the Irish Oaks, Divinely finished a fine second in that Classic event and then could only finish fourth in the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood. So, having been dispatched by Snowfall on two occasions this season and comfortably beaten by Wonderful Tonight last time out then it's hard to see her reversing those form lines here, and she may struggle.

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4. Eshadaa (J Crowley/R Varian)

Once raced as a juvenile (won on debut at Nottingham in November), Roger Varian's Eshadaa maintained her unbeaten start to the season by outbattling Gloria Mundi in a Listed event at Newbury over 1m 2f. Sent to Royal Ascot for her third start, Eshadaa ran a fine race in defeat in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes, where she was no match for John & Thady Gosden's Loving Dream, who she will lock horns with again on Thursday. Gosden's filly kicked clear of the field in that event and Eshadaa found herself a little too far back to land any sort of blow on the winner, so a more prominent ride could see her comfortably reverse that form. Having only had three career runs then there could be a whole load of improvement to come from the daughter of Muharaar and while she faces a really stern task against proven first-rate performers she is of significant interest.

5. La Joconde (H Doyle/A O'Brien)

This decent daughter of Frankel broke her maiden tag at the eighth time of asking when she landed a Roscommon contest at the end of June, but she was next seen handed the unenviable task of lining up in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh. There was no doubting that that Group 1 test was beyond her capabilities and Aidan O'Brien used her as a pacemaker for Snowfall in the Classic contest. Sent to the front early, she was unable to maintain the gallop for the whole contest and was swallowed up by most of the field and she went on to finish sixth of eight. Likely to be given a similar job on Thursday, La Joconde will be the mount of Hollie Doyle, who is likely to be asked to set the early fractions for Snowfall once again, and while she is sure to be prominent through the first half of the race, her challenge is likely to disintegrate in the closing stages, as she leaves her stablemate to go on and try and claim glory.

6. Loving Dream (L Dettori/J & T Gosden)

Having claimed one win out of three races during her juvenile career, Loving Dream was then sent to Lingfield for her comeback run this season in the Oaks Trial in early May. Unable to land any sort of blow in that event, as she could only finish fifth, it was a huge shock next time out when she bound to glory in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot. Backed from 40/1 to 18/1 that day, the John & Thady Gosden-trained raider travelled smoothly through the race before unleashing a blistering turn of foot to kick to the front. Having to hold on in the closing stages, Loving Dream showed a real battling attitude to see off some notable rivals, and she will now be looking to build on that effort. This is another considerable step up in class for her here, but if she can improve on that Ribblesdale run then she could be a potential lively outsider.

7. Snowfall (R Moore/A O'Brien)

Superstar filly Snowfall heads into the Yorkshire Oaks on the back of a sensational three-race winning streak that has seen her claim dual Classic glory in the English and Irish Oaks. Her victory in the Oaks at Epsom shattered the record book as she bound to a mightily impressive 16-length victory in the Group 1 event over 1m 4f. Following that success she then dominated the Irish Oaks field as she won by over eight lengths to enhance her already lofty reputation. Prior to those Group 1 wins she was an eye-catching winner of the Musidora Stakes at York, so a return to the Knavesmire is a notable positive, and if she can continue her form then she looks the one to beat. In receipt of weight from her main rival Wonderful Tonight, Snowfall will be eager to try and cement her place as one of the premier performers in training, and if she can replicate her recent runs then she will be very tough to beat.

Selection:

Likely to be a short odds-on favourite, SNOWFALL is going to be very tough to beat if she can replicate her fine performances in the Oaks, but while Wonderful Tonight is a notable adversary she will come up short against the Ballydoyle hotpot. Loving Dream could be a lively outsider for the Gosden yard, but Snowfall looks a cut above her rivals here.

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