Trials Lowdown – Who wins the 2021 Cazoo Oaks
26 May 2021
Nineteen fillies remain in contention for the 2021 Cazoo Oaks and no fewer than five of them contested the Novibet Oaks Trial Stakes at Lingfield this month.
Sherbert Lemon was the outsider of the field at 28/1 but the Archie Watson-trained grey stayed on resolutely to beat Save A Forest by three-quarters of a length, with Ocean Road (third) a length further back and Divinely (fourth) another neck behind. Technique, who had previously finished runner-up in the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, faded to be seventh, but all could be leading contenders for the 2021 Cazoo Oaks.
Watson has never previously had a runner in the Oaks but will be encouraged that seven winners of the Lingfield race have gone on to glory at Epsom since 1969, the latest being Anapurna in 2019.
In addition, Look Here was second in 2008 before going one better on the Downs. Sherbet Lemon will also be providing Hollie Doyle with her first ride in a Classic race.
Aidan O’Brien, the trainer of Divinely, has eight winners of the Oaks to his name (including four of the past seven) and looks to have stronger challengers in ante-post market leaders Santa Barbara and Snowfall.
Santa Barbara was having only her second race when a close fourth to Mother Earth, her stablemate, in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket this month. Her pedigree points to middle-distances suiting, whereas Saffron Beach, the Guineas runner-up, who she is set to meet again, is less stoutly bred.
The Guineas has been a remarkable source of Cazoo Oaks winners, with 19 triumphing at Epsom since 1960 after first contesting the Newmarket Classic over half a mile less. And encouragingly for supporters of Santa Barbara and Saffron Beach, nine of those victors were beaten in the Guineas.
Snowfall advanced her claims with an all-the-way win in last week’s Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York. She benefited from getting a rather soft lead, but there was no disguising her authority as she beat Noon Star going away by three and three-quarters lengths, with Teona, who had raced a bit too exuberantly for her own good, another half a length adrift in third.
Six fillies since 1960 have completed the Musidora/Oaks double, though none since Sariska in 2009. Pia (1967) and Alexandrova (2006) were beaten in it before winning at Epsom.
The Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks provided Enable with her springboard to Oaks glory in 2017 and this year’s renewal, dominated by Dubai Fountain and Zeyaadah with La Joconde back in fourth, looked well up to scratch.
Dubai Fountain, a leading two-year-old, was never far away from the pace and won by a length but the previously unbeaten Zeyaadah, trained by Roger Varian, was conceding her 3lb and did not get the clearest run. Varian also trains Save A Forest and Teona, so he has a good line to plenty of the form.
Shale won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last year but was slightly disappointing on reappearance in the 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in April. She bids to give Donnacha O’Brien his first taste of British Classic glory in the 2021 Cazoo Oaks.
Blue Wind has a Group 3 race at the Curragh that remembers her exploits and the O’Brien-trained Was finished third in the 2012 renewal, before winning at Epsom. Willow, another resident at Ballydoyle, finished third in the same contest this year and could seek to emulate her.
There is a £22,500 supplementary entry stage on May 29 for those who want to roll the dice. Snow Fairy won in 2010 after being supplemented following her win in the Height Of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood. The David Simcock-trained Ad Infinitum was the 25/1 winner of last Friday’s renewal but, like Snow Fairy before her, is not entered at Epsom.