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Taghrooda and Tarfasha provide leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum with strong Oaks hand

Updated: Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 17:02 | Comments

The mile-and-a-half trip of the Oaks should bring about significant improvement from Tarfasha, a half-sister to Saddler's Rock and Galileo Rock
The mile-and-a-half trip of the Oaks should bring about significant improvement from Tarfasha, a half-sister to Saddler's Rock and Galileo Rock

The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned pair of Taghrooda and Tarfasha are two of 17 fillies declared for Friday's Investec Oaks at Epsom, run this year in memory of Henry Cecil.

John Gosden's Taghrooda shot to the head of the betting for the Classic when winning the Pretty Polly at Newmarket in startling fashion. The Sheikh's retained jockey Paul Hanagan will be on board.

Tarfasha is trained on the Curragh by Dermot Weld and was an impressive winner of the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on her seasonal reappearance. Weld has repeatedly stated she would not be at home on rain-softened ground and could even miss the race, but her latest victory did come on ground officially described as yielding to soft.

Her jockey Pat Smullen told At The Races: "I just hope they don't have much more rain and it dries out as she's a very good moving filly.

"If it did come down, she wouldn't be a certain runner.

"She's done well from two to three. She was a weak little filly last year, she wasn't over-raced and she was given plenty of time over the winter. She developed well."

Aidan O'Brien's Marvellous has recently overtaken Taghrooda at the top of the market after a brilliant display in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

She is unsurprisingly the choice of Joseph O'Brien with Ryan Moore riding stablemate Palace and Seamie Heffernan on Dazzling.

David Simcock is one of a number of trainers with more than one chance.

He runs the Musidora winner Madame Chiang and Momentus, who was third in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

Ralph Beckett's Honor Bound won that heat and has been supplemented for this race. Jim Crowley favours her over stablemate Regardez.

Crowley chose the wrong one of Beckett's runners 12 months ago when his mount Secret Gesture was beaten by stable companion Talent and the jockey will be hoping lightning does not strike twice.

Roger Varian's Cheshire Oaks winner Anipa, Hughie Morrison's Goodwood scorer Marsh Daisy and Tony Coyle's Lily Rules have also been added to the field at a cost of £30,000 each.

Ed Dunlop's Amazing Maria has her first run of the year after a promising juvenile campaign and will have the assistance of Frankie Dettori. Dunlop also runs Island Remede.

Saeed bin Suroor's Ihtimaal, third in the Guineas, Luca Cumani's Volume, winner of the Swettenham Stud Trial and Peter Chapple-Hyam's Inchila make up the big field.

Epsom clerk of the course Andrew Cooper believes the going for Friday's race will "not be far off good".

A total of six millimetres of rain had fallen overnight and into Wednesday afternoon, with more forecast in the evening.

However, a dry and warm day is expected on Thursday which Copper feels will negate any further rainfall leaving the ground almost as it is now.

"We had been dry since 7am up until having a shower about 3pm," said Cooper.

"That will have amounted to about a millimetre and we had five overnight. There's the possibility of more tonight but it should have cleared by midnight.

"We're calling it good, good to soft in places.

"Tomorrow is supposed to be dry and fresh, around 20C, and Friday day will be dry and humid. There's a risk of thunder on Friday night, however.

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