Santa Barbara needs to be at her best to win the Oaks

Little between Japan and Mogul

15:10 – Japan

Al Aasy is the improver and the short-priced favourite here and he has undoubtedly looked very good this season, but those victories came in Group 3 company, and I don’t think his Newbury win last time came in a particularly strong race. So he has questions to answer in this grade, whereas we know our horses are proven winners at Group 1 level, so Al Aasy will probably have to up his game here. He may well do but let’s see.

Mogul was so impressive in winning the Hong Kong Vase for me, returning to the form of his Grand Prix De Paris defeat of the Arc runner-up In Swoop, and he ran a nice prep for this when third in the Ganay. The step back up to 1m4f will suit, the ground shouldn’t be a problem and he wasn’t at all disgraced when sixth in the Derby. There is precious little between him and my mount Japan, his full brother, and the 2019 Derby third made a highly satisfactory return for me when winning the Ormonde.

Better ground here will suit Japan and we know the lesser 1m4f trip is not an issue, as he had the speed to win a Group 1 at 1m2f, and we have two live bullets to fire here. I’d have happily have ridden either, so closely are our colts matched, and I doubt there will be much between the pair in the race either.

Looking forward to riding Santa Barbara in the Oaks

16:30 – Santa Barbara

We have five in here and, although Santa Barbara and Snowfall are clearly the top two going into the race, the other three all have their chances, with the prospect of 1m4f on quick ground threatening to see them improve dramatically, as we have seen with so many fillies here in the past. And Divinely shaped well for me at Lingfield and has been pleasing Aidan since.

Snowfall didn’t do it in the best company last season but she certainly looked a much-improved filly in the Musidora. She did it impressively from the front and, as her breeding suggested, being a Deep Impact out of a sister to Found, she relished the step up in trip. The way she finished off her race at York would leave you in little doubt she will get 1m4f, and probably improve for it in a better-run race, and it could take a good one to beat her. If there is, then hopefully Santa Barbara is the one.

Everyone knows how well she was working at home in the Spring but, as I said before that race, a mile on quick ground first time up in the 1000 Guineas was never going to see her at her optimum. But she clearly ran a very pleasing race for one with just a maiden run and win to her name, and the whole experience should have brought her on a good deal. Given the pedigree, you would hope she would stay okay, though it is never a given, and she has obviously always shown us the necessary class at home. If she puts it all together, then she is a filly whom I am very much looking forward to riding on Friday.