Savethelastdance and Bluestocking, who served up such a thrilling contest in the Irish Oaks, meet again in the Pertemps Network Yorkshire Oaks at York on Thursday.
Second at Epsom to Soul Sister, Aidan O’Brien’s Savethelastdance gained her own Classic victory at the Curragh – but it looked far from likely with a furlong to run.
The race had gone perfectly to plan for Ralph Beckett’s Bluestocking, who hit the front with 100 yards to race.
However, having been caught seemingly flat footed when the pace quickened, Ryan Moore conjured up one last lunge from Savethelastdance and she was able to get her head in front in the nick of time.
Speaking after saddling Continuous to win Wednesday’s Great Voltigeur Stakes, O’Brien admitted underfoot conditions at York may not be ideal for his filly.
He said: “Looking at the ground today is a little bit of a worry. Ryan said the ground is quicker than it was in (Royal) Ascot, so it’s proper quick ground.
“She (Savethelastdance) has ran on it – she ran on it in Epsom. Her best form is in soft ground and obviously she’s not going to get that, but she’s in good form.”
O’Brien has a very capable second string in the shape of Warm Heart, winner of the Ribblesdale at Ascot but a slightly underwhelming fifth in the Irish Oaks.
“Maybe the softer ground just caught her out there, and she got caught further back than ideal off a slow pace,” said O’Brien.
“All those things could have contributed to what was maybe a little bit of a disappointing run.
“Other than that she had a really nice, progressive profile.”
For Beckett, he came within half a length of having won the Irish Derby and Oaks in successive years following on from Westover’s exploits.
Bluestocking remains without a win this year, but her run at the Curragh was another big step forward from her third place in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, behind Warm Heart.
Beckett said: “Bluestocking worked well on Friday and we are happy to go. It’s the right spot for her and at her level there aren’t many alternatives, as she’s Group One placed and so not eligible for the Galtres.
“I was thrilled with her at the Curragh, where everything went right and she just got caught. That was only her fourth race and she’s improved every time, so it’s possible she’ll improve again, but I don’t know how much more we might see at this level. It’s a deep renewal, but I’m really hopeful.”
The Yorkshire Oaks forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series and one filly with a win in the Fillies’ & Mares’ category already is Roger Varian’s Al Husn, who sprang something of a surprise in the Nassau at Goodwood when beating Blue Rose Cen and Nashwa.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell, said: “We wanted everything to be right and the question was always whether this would come too soon after the Nassau, but she did a bit of work last Thursday and everyone is happy with her.
“We are very lucky that she’s got a Group One on the board already, so we don’t have to chase one, and running here instead of in last Sunday’s Prix Jean Romanet gives her an extra four days.
“She hasn’t run over this trip before and nobody has ever said to me that they think she wants further, but she’s so tough and it’s obviously a lovely race. With Sheikha Hissa due to be at York, we are keen to run.”
Karl Burke has two contenders in Lancashire Oaks winner Poptronic and the three-year-old Novakai.
“It’s a very hot renewal but both fillies deserve to take their chance,” said Burke.
“Poptronic is a very strong stayer and she was very good when beating Sea Silk Road in the Lancashire Oaks, so I’d be very hopeful that she can run into a place at least.
“She ran in the Yorkshire Oaks a year ago, and although she finished last she was only beaten around 10 lengths by the Arc winner, heavily eased down. If anything, that gave us the encouragement to carry on with her from three to four. Whether she can win a Group One as strong as this, I don’t know, but she’s certainly capable of placing in one.
“Novakai is a year younger and less exposed at the trip. She was second in the Fillies’ Mile last year, and we started her off this year at a mile and a quarter because her owner Sheikh Obaid was keen to keep her at that trip to start with.
“She was second in the Musidora and then went to France for the Diane, but it was when we stepped her up to a mile and a half that she really came into her own, bolting up in the Listed Aphrodite Stakes at Newmarket. This is a lot stronger, but she’s a good staying filly and she deserves to take her chance.”