THE big British hopes for next month's Oaks were left frozen out by Snowfall at York.
Aidan O'Brien's filly ran out a convincing winner of the Musidora Stakes and the bookies slashed her odds for the Epsom Classic.
The three-year-old is now 6-1 (from 33s) second-favourite behind stablemate Santa Barbara (5-2) for the Oaks with Betfair as Ballydoyle seek to continue their recent domination of the 1m4f Group 1.
O'Brien has saddled four of the last six winners of the Oaks – and opposition from the home team looks thin on the ground again this year.
Punters found it hard to split Sir Michael Stoute's Noon Star and Roger Varian's Teona at the head of the betting for the Musidora, a key trial for Epsom.
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But both fillies were caught flat-footed in a steadily-run race, in which Ryan Moore stole a soft lead on Snowfall and bossed things from a long way out.
Noon Star and Teona tried hard to bridge the gap inside the final couple of furlongs, but Snowfall had too many gears and was well on top at the line.
Noon Star and Teona were both eased significantly for the Oaks, with Betfair going 10-1 (from 5-1) and 8-1 (from 11-2) respectively.
After saddling his first ever winner in the Musidora, O'Brien said: "We always thought the world of her last year, but things just didn't work for her.
"On pedigree she was always going to be suited by a step up in trip, (and) Ryan gave her a lovely ride.
"It's a beautiful pedigree, and we always thought a race like that would suit.
"I would think the Oaks will be the plan, but we'll all have a chat.
"Things just didn't work out for her last season – hopefully she goes on and has a good year."
Earlier on the card, Starman was a ready winner of the Duke Of York Stakes and is now firmly on course for the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
The Ed Walker-trained speedster edged out Nahaarr in a driving finish under Oisin Murphy, with Oxted back in third.
Walker said: "The front two look good horses. Oisin said he got there a fraction early and wasn't doing a lot in front. Hopefully off a stronger pace he could be even better, who knows.
"We never thought he'd be this good as he was so big at two, we couldn't do a lot with him and Covid pushed his start back last year. He's done nothing wrong since then other than on bottomless ground at Ascot.
"There's cut in this ground today, but they've done an amazing job because the track is in great condition. It's very fair ground, but I think he'll be better on quick.
"It's Ascot next for the Diamond Jubilee. He is in the King's Stand and I thought maybe if Battaash didn't make it – but I think it will be the Jubilee."
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