06/03/2008 11:00PM

Irish invasion for English Oaks


Lush Lashes spearheads an Irish invasion of Europe's premier fillies classic, the $700,000 English Oaks, at Epsom on Friday.

No less than 9 of the 16 runners will be shipping in from Ireland, including Lush Lashes, who shot to the head of the betting for this 1 1/2-mile event when sprinting five lengths clear of a strong field in the Group 2 Musidora Stakes at York on May 14.

Lush Lashes is trained by Jim Bolger, who won this race in 1991 with Jet Ski Lady. His fellow Irishman Aidan O'Brien has won three of the last 10 renewals and has no fewer than six representatives this time, most notably the Cheshire Oaks winner Sail.

Other Irish challengers are the Dermot Weld-trained Chinese White, who has won both her starts by wide margins, and the John Oxx-trained Katiyra, who has suffered an interrupted preparation but has always been highly regarded.

Another filly who has been slow to come to hand this season is Cape Amber, who could prove best of the home team. She was a distant second to Lush Lashes at York but was given what appeared to be an unaggressive ride during her comeback race, and it should be much closer between the pair this time.

Outside of Cape Amber, the top British hopes are Clowance, Michita, Miracle Seeker, and Saphira's Fire, all of whom won their preps last time out, but none in a style that suggested impending classic success.

Last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe holds the key to the other 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 contest on the Epsom card, the $400,000 Vodafone Coronation Cup. Youmzain finished second in the Arc behind Dylan Thomas, and on Friday he faces Getaway and Soldier of Fortune, fourth and fifth in the Arc.

But there are grounds for believing that Getaway, who is bidding to give trainer Andre Fabre a remarkable seventh victory in this race, can turn the tables.

Getaway was thought to be a real stayer last season, regularly running almost two miles, and he was only aimed at the Arc after Manduro, also owned by the German Baron Georg von Ullmann, suffered a career-ending injury.

Judged by the way he treated the opposition with utter disdain in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes on his reappearance this year, Getaway appears to be still improving at the age of 5, while the inconsistent Youmzain finished a disappointing fifth to Sun Classique in Dubai in his only 2008 start.

Red Rocks, the 2006 Breeders' Cup Turf hero, is also part of an 11-runner Coronation Cup field but has yet to repeat the form that carried him to that Churchill Downs triumph.