Several big races here this week have been undermined by a bewildering lack of depth. As one of the most accomplished colts in many years, you can understand why Sea The Stars should have frightened away the opposition on Tuesday. But a late setback for Tartan Bearer left £64,000 up for grabs to any animal competent enough to beat the pacemakers for third.
Yesterday, meanwhile, the Weatherbys Insurance Lonsdale Stakes drew a quite atrocious field, and today only five fillies have been declared against Sariska in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks – a Group One prize bearing over £300,000 in prize money.
One of them has at least won at this level, albeit Dar Re Mi owed her success in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh last time to an artful ride in a sprint finish. Even as it stands that form has not worked out, and her chance sooner rests on excellent efforts in defeat last season behind Zarkava herself, in the Prix Vermeille, and a peak-form Lush Lashes in this race.
Certainly it would be wrong to get carried away with the ludicrous ease of Sariska's success in the Irish Oaks, as she cruised through conditions which were clearly found unpalatable by her rivals. Conversely, she had previously had rather more in hand at Epsom than the desperately narrow margin suggested, her jockey having felt obliged to make his move prematurely. The subsequent Group One success of the runner-up, Midday, at Goodwood makes Sariska (3.25) the filly to beat regardless. The ground is likely to be faster than ideal this time, but she coped readily enough with quick ground when impressing here in May.
The conditions make Gold Bubbles (2.15) look excellent value in the Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes. Beyond Desire looked an excellent prospect at Goodwood, and Lady Of The Desert has Pattern-race runs on the board, but the Irish raider looks a hard-knocking type who has been rubbing shoulders with some very classy juveniles at home. She went off too fast over a seventh furlong last time, and her American pedigree implies that this firmer ground will make her hard to catch dropped in trip.
Lovelace (2.50) looked unlucky in a valuable handicap at Goodwood, trapped on the inside and getting clear too late. He had previously been marooned by the draw in the Hunt Cup and can gain an overdue break here, actually fairly treated now despite top weight.