There are always plenty of emotions that come with preparing a Classic runner, but it is undoubtedly extremely exciting to have three contenders lining up for this Friday's G1 Cazoo Oaks at Epsom.
Although each was beaten in their trial, Teona, Zeyaadah and Save A Forest all head to Epsom with improvement expected and we are very much looking forward to them taking their chance.
Shadwell's homebred Zeyaadah is arguably unfortunate not to be heading to the Oaks unbeaten having encountered traffic problems around the tricky turning track at Chester when attempting to give 3lbs to the 110-rated Dubai Fountain. She was unable to gather in her talented rival in the straight having conceded first run, but Jim Crowley was very complimentary about her afterwards and she is a very uncomplicated filly who will handle whatever ground as well as the big occasion. She showed a tremendous attitude to win her Listed race as a two-year-old on genuine heavy ground, and heads to Epsom as a very solid contender.
Zeyaadah is the seventh foal of the Act One mare Masaafat, an unraced half-sister to a filly called Suez who was second in the Cheveley Park for Michael Jarvis. Zeyaadah is by Shadwell's own stallion Tamayuz, winner of the G1 Prix Jean Prat and G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois. She is by some way the best of her immediate relations when it comes to official ratings and would be an emotional winner for Shadwell following the still recent passing of Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Where Zeyaadah has shown a wonderful temperament and ability to knuckle down in her races, it is fair to say Teona has flashed brilliance in her short career without yet showing the true extent of her ability. A wide-margin winner of her second start at Newcastle, her failure to settle early in the Musidora has been widely dissected already, and she is going to need to be more tractable in the early stages if she's to produce what she has suggested she is capable of at home. She will race in a hood for the first time, and David Egan will be on board as he was on her racecourse debut. This filly has a wonderful pedigree as a daughter of the brilliant Sea The Stars and the high-class race mare Ambivalent. Teona's owner Ali Saeed also raced Ambivalent in his recognisable colours, the highlight of her career being a top-level success in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh where she took the scalp of the previous year's Oaks winner Was. As well as Teona, Ambivalent has already produced the G2-winning Dubawi colt Al Hilalee who was successful over the mile-and-a-half Prix Hocquart at Chantilly in his short career.
Save A Forest's progress to the top table has been a little more low-key than most of Friday's runners, but she's already proven herself a progressive and straightforward filly who is not short on natural talent. Impressive when breaking her maiden over an inadequate nine-and-a-half furlongs, she travelled, quickened and was strong at the finish at Windsor and followed that up by improving again in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial, a race which was perhaps not the strongest trial but one which confirmed her stamina and, with improvement expected once again, her place as a lively outsider in the Oaks. Callum Shepherd once again takes the ride. Another homebred, Save A Forest is a product of a mating between Kingman and the Galileo mare Bark, making her a full sister to the G3 Winter Derby third Father Of Jazz. Her owners The Gredley Family are no strangers to Classic success having famously done the Oaks/Irish Oaks & St Leger treble with the top-class filly User Friendly, and we are very much looking forward to running this filly for them.
Best of luck to all connections and riders on Friday, and to our runners' travelling grooms Gary Huntley (Zeyaadah), Erin Shannon (Teona), and Kerry Humphries (Save A Forest).