| 10.4°C Belfast

Aidan O'Brien horse has come from nowhere to be market leader in Oaks


Out in front: Marvellous is favourite for the Oaks today at Epsom

Out in front: Marvellous is favourite for the Oaks today at Epsom

©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Out in front: Marvellous is favourite for the Oaks today at Epsom

Marvellous was not in the frame for Oaks success until shooting clear to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh last month but Aidan O'Brien's charge now heads the betting for today's big race.

That performance suggested she would have no trouble with an extra half a mile, although despite being by Galileo, she is out of a Cherry Hinton winner.

"There's a lot of speed in Marvellous' pedigree, but she's by Galileo and they stay well," said O'Brien.

Joseph O'Brien overlooked Marvellous at the Curragh – Ryan Moore was in the saddle – but is back on board at Epsom.

He said: "She won well in the Irish 1,000 Guineas – you'd imagine she'd get a mile and a half.

"It was very heavy ground and she looked to go to the line well. Hopefully she'll handle the better ground and get the mile and a half – she's in with a fighting chance."

It is nearly five years since Awzaan gave owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum his last Group One win in Britain but he has two major chances in today's Oaks, with Taghrooda and Tarfasha both carrying his familiar blue and while silks.

The John Gosden-trained Taghrooda shot to the head of the betting for the Classic after a thoroughly dominant display in the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on just her second start.

Unfortunately for the daughter of Sea The Stars that form has been repeatedly let down, but she could hardly have won any easier.

Dermot Weld's Tarfasha claimed the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas, a race in which 2012 winner Was met with defeat before springing a Classic surprise.

The owner's racing manager Angus Gold said: "She's a nice staying filly in the making.

"As for Taghrooda, everyone has crabbed the form and of course you'd love to see it work out but it doesn't mean she's not progressive.

"Sometimes the style (of victory) is more important.

"Whether she is good enough we will see, but she's potentially a very nice mile-and-a-half filly."

Weld said of Tarfasha: "She's a lovely filly, she's very balanced with a good action.

"Hopefully she can make it all the way to the top in time.

"I don't think stamina will be a problem, or the track. She won easy in Galway as a two-year-old, she handled the hill and came round the bend well. She's progressive."

Gosden has never won the Oaks, but Taghrooda looks to present him with his best chance of doing so to date.

"She is a very nice filly. People are quite correct to question the form (of her six-length win in the Pretty Polly).

"I think the second (Jordan Princess) is a decent filly but she didn't handle the testing ground next time at Goodwood and the third filly is pretty moody and did not run great in a Newbury trial. You win by six lengths and it is not your fault if the others do not go on.

"I feel the step up in trip will help her. However, I think the Oaks is a race with great depth, whereas Australia showed form way ahead of anything else in the Guineas for the Derby.

"Taghrooda's form ties in very nicely with the filly (Marsh Daisy) who won the Height of Fashion Stakes (at Goodwood)."

Ralph Beckett saddled a famous one-two 12 months ago when Talent led home stablemate Secret Gesture, and is double-handed again after supplementing Lingfield Trial winner Honor Bound.

"Honor Bound has surprised us all," said Beckett.

"She doesn't work well at home and you wouldn't spot her in a crowd.

"But she's got the pedigree for it. She's a half-sister to Treasure Beach.

"She deserves her chance," added Beckett.

Belfast Telegraph