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Dazzling Darley Yorkshire Oaks in prospect

16 Aug 2011

A cracking line-up has been declared for the highlight of day two of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival, with Blue Bunting, Snow Fairy, Wonder Of Wonders, Banimpire, Crystal Capella and Vita Nova heading a stellar cast.

Blue Bunting (nearside in blue) gets up on the line under a brilliant Dettori ride to win the Darley Irish Oaks.  Image courtesy of

The Darley Yorkshire Oaks has attracted a fantastic line-up, brimming with female equine talent in the sixth race of the QIPCO British Champions Series Fillies & Mares category.

Heading the stellar cast in the mile and half feature race on the second day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York is the brilliant QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Darley Irish Oaks winner, Blue Bunting.

She did not handle the track in the Investec Oaks at Epsom, but has otherwise looked the real deal and although she only mastered Banimpire by a short head in Ireland, the turn of foot she showed once Frankie Dettori pulled her out to make her challenge was very impressive, as it had been in the Guineas at Newmarket.

A victory on Thurdsay would take both Mahmood Al Zarooni and Frankie Dettori to the four winner mark in the Series.

Banimpire, trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger, reopposes and has won a Group 2 race in the meantime. 

Sure to run her race, she will always be tough nut to crack, but the suspicion is that Blue Bunting’s turn of foot is likely to prove decisive once again.

This is far from a two-horse race, however.  Wonder Of Wonders, trained by Aidan O’Brien, was only half a length behind Blue Bunting in third place in the Darley Irish Oaks, while another Irish-trained challenger, Jessica Harrington’s Laughing Lashes, was just a short head further back in fourth. 

Both sets of connections will fancy their chances of reversing form with Blue Bunting.

And that’s without mentioning three outstanding older fillies and mares who bring top class form to the race.

Crystal Capella slammed her rivals over this trip in a Newmarket Group 2 race in July and probably found the two furlong shorter trip in the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, when she finished fourth behind Midday, against her. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge looks sure to make her presence felt.

In front of her at Goodwood was Snow Fairy, winner of both the English and Irish Oaks last year, and she too should be at her peak now. Ed Dunlop’s filly is another with strong claims.

And then there’s Vita Nova, saddled by the top trainer in the QIPCO British Champions Series to date, Sir Henry Cecil, and ridden by the top jockey, Tom Queally.

She is stepping up to Group 1 level for the first time, but she is improving rapidly and would have easily won a Group 2 race last time had her saddle not slipped.  She is undoubtedly a danger to them all.

It promises to be one of the most exciting races of the week and an absolute must to watch. 

Get along to York if you possibly can – the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival is a treat from start to finish – but if you can’t, catch the action live on Channel 4 at 3.40pm.

For the full Darley Yorkshire Oaks race page, CLICK HERE.