Racing: Eswarah has speed to pip Irish in Oaks

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The Independent Online

There seems to be a bulk-entering policy for Ballydoyle when it comes to the Classics these days. Ireland's premier stable has four of the 14 runners in tomorrow's Derby and a quarter of the field in the opening middle-distance Classic this afternoon, the Oaks. Enter two and get one free is apparently among the small print of the race conditions.

There seems to be a bulk-entering policy for Ballydoyle when it comes to the Classics these days. Ireland's premier stable has four of the 14 runners in tomorrow's Derby and a quarter of the field in the opening middle-distance Classic this afternoon, the Oaks. Enter two and get one free is apparently among the small print of the race conditions.

The pick of Aidan O'Brien's runners today appears to be Virginia Waters, who looked destined for the very top, and within summit-touching proximity of that destination, when she collected the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Fine minds are still trying to work out what happened to Virginia Waters subsequently in the Irish equivalent, in which she finished eighth.

Ireland has two representatives from outside Ballydoyle and they come from yards which already have Oaks mementoes on the mantlepiece. Jim Bolger (Jet Ski Lady, 1991) saddles Pictavia, while Dream To Dress runs for Dermot Weld (Blue Wind 1981).

Yet, if the betting lists are the firmest evidence, this is an Oaks dominated by two domestic runners. John Dunlop's Cassydora was a useful filly last year and she appeared to have built on that foundation when collecting the Lingfield Oaks Trial most convincingly. It could be, however, that was counterfeit form.

Eswarah carries the compelling feature of being unbeaten. Michael Jarvis's filly has a trial success of her own to flaunt, at Newbury, but that, too, is not form enough to have the bells pealing across the land. What is intriguing about ESWARAH (nap 4.10) is that she has won her two races with an instant burst of foot and seemingly possesses a pedigree which insists that acceleration may be employed at the end of a 12-furlong race. Her dam, Midway Lady, won the Oaks in 1986.

"Everything has gone to plan and she goes there fit and well," Jarvis said yesterday. "I think the trip is a question for them all at this point, but I would have no problems about it on her breeding. The only real question is the track. We don't know how she will handle it, but she is a very athletic, well made filly, who is not over-big and has a good action, so we have to be hopeful." This is as close as Jarvis gets to hubris.

The earlier Coronation Cup proves that in racing at least Europe can come together in some harmony. Reefscape and Pride for France, and Yeats for Ireland will jostle with five British-based runners for the Group One prize.

The French own a good record in this contest even if Swain, when he was in André Fabre's guardianship, was their last winner in 1996. The statistics are against Clive Brittain's Warrsan, even as he strives to complete a hat-trick in the race. Seven-year-olds, the tomes tell us, do not win this.

That should leave Papineau. The Ascot Gold Cup winner will test Godolphin's belief that he can be equally potent at a mile and a half. Team Dubai usually have one hot out of the oven for this adventure. This would be their third victory in six years. But all has not been perfect in the five-year-old's preparation.

"Papineau has been working very well and is in good form, but he recently suffered a bruised foot and missed two days' training," Saeed Bin Suroor, his trainer, revealed yesterday. "He is back in training now."

In these confusing circumstances we must return to France and a man who knows something about winning Coronation Cups, M Fabre, whose Reefscape (next best 3.30) looked as though he would be an improved beast for his Prix Ganay second to Bago.

A field of 14 was declared yesterday for the Derby, with just Godolphin's Shamardal removed from calculations. The greatest significance was the announcement that Kieren Fallon has elected to ride Gypsy King of the Ballydoyle quartet, leaving Michael Kinane to take the mount on Oratorio.

The draw for the post position meant that the big three will get up front and personal, in the early stages at least. Gypsy King, Dubawi and Motivator were allotted stalls three, four and five respectively.

Hyperion's selections for today's other meetings:

Haydock: 6.30 Peter's Imp 7.00 Blades Boy 7.35 Music Note 8.05 Golden Grimshaw 8.40 Consular 9.10 Mr Mischief

Thirsk: 1.55 High Heel Sneakers 3.05 Dramatic Review 3.40 Jabraan 4.25 Rosecliff 5.00 Amelia 5.35 Cerulean Rose

Wolverhampton: 2.05 Maniatis 2.40 Blue Moon Hitman 3.15 Il Pranzo 3.50 Kiama 4.35 Gallego 5.10 Lucius Verrus

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Eswarah (Epsom 4.10)

NB: Reefscape (Epsom 3.30)

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