Mehdaayih has been added to the 12-furlong fillies’ Classic at a cost of £30,000 after a scintillating four and a half-length victory in the Listed Cheshire Oaks on 8th May. The Frankel filly is the favourite with Unibet, official betting partner of the Investec Derby Festival.
Mehdaayih’s trainer John Gosden is also responsible for another impressive trial scorer in Anapurna, who defeated Tauteke (Roger Varian) by six lengths in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial on 11th May.
Gosden is chasing a third Investec Oaks success, having landed the Classic with Taghrooda (2014) and superstar Enable (2017).
Together Forever provided Aidan O’Brien with a seventh Investec Oaks triumph in 2018 and Ireland’s 21-time champion Flat trainer has five contenders going forward led by Pink Dogwood.
A half-sister to 2018 G1 Irish Derby victor Latrobe, Pink Dogwood returned to action with a smooth success in the Listed Salsabil Stakes at Navan on 28th April.
O’Brien’s remaining Investec Oaks entries are G1 1,000 Guineas heroine Hermosa, who runs in the G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Sunday 26th May), plus Fleeting, successful in the G2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September, Delphinia and Peach Tree.
Further Irish interest could be provided by Tarnawa (Dermot Weld), winner of the G3 Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on 11th May, and last season’s G1 Fillies’ Mile scorer Iridessa (Joseph O’Brien), who has also been declared for the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Newmarket trainer William Haggas has two leading contenders in Maqsad and Frankellina. Maqsad has won twice at Newmarket this year, most recently taking the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes by five lengths on 5th May, while Frankellina shaped well on her reappearance when going down by a neck in the G3 Musidora Stakes at York on 15th May.
Ralph Beckett is a dual Investec Oaks-winning trainer, courtesy of Look Here (2008) and Talent (2013), and the Andover handler is set to be represented by Manuela De Vega.
Unbeaten as a two-year-old, including a Listed contest against colts at Pontefract in October, the Lope De Vega filly shaped well on her comeback when second behind Mehdaayih at Chester.
Beckett reported: “Manuela De Vega is in good form and we have been pleased with her preparation for the Investec Oaks.
“She did a piece of work Tuesday morning on the grass which was nice and the Oaks remains the plan.
“I was really pleased with her run at Chester. She had to give a penalty away and the winner got first run on us. She ran well and she will improve from that effort. She needed that run and it would also have done her the world of good to go round Chester and race in between fillies.
“Hopefully, we will be competitive at Epsom. We have been lucky enough to win the Oaks twice and we are looking forward to running Manuela De Vega on Friday.”
Lavender’s Blue(Amanda Perrett), a close second in the Listed Fillies’ Trial at Newbury on 18th May, Musidora Stakes fifth Blue Gardenia (David O’Meara) and Sh Boom (Peter Chapple-Hyam) complete those seeking Investec Oaks glory.