Peter Chapple-Hyam is no stranger to saddling a classic winner with Rodrigo De Triano, Dr Devious, Turtle Island, Spectrum and Authorized his biggest winners at the highest level. He has only sent three horses to the racetrack in the past two-weeks and it would be a surprise to see BHARANI STAR win this Group 1. The daughter of Sea The Stars landed her only victory at Haydock in a handicap last month before finishing fourth behind Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.
The first of the Ballydoyle runners in the Epsom Oaks this year is ENNISTYMON who races in the colours of owner, Evie Stockwell. This filly, by Galileo is lightly raced with three career starts which included her maiden success at Leopardstown in early June under Seamie Heffernan. She’s currently rated 104 after a good second place performance behind Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. She’s a serious contender who’ll have no issues with the ground or trip and could represent some each-way value in the betting market.
The Epsom Oaks has been dominated by two trainers since 2014, with Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden dominating recent success in this fillies’ middle-distance classic. The star attraction for the John Gosden team is FRANKLY DARLING who runs in the colours of owner, Anthony Oppenheimer who previously had classic glory here at Epsom with Golden Horn in the Derby.
This daughter of Frankel was highly expected to win her maiden on return to racing at Newcastle in early June and she didn’t disappoint by securing a five-length victory under Robert Havlin. That victory was followed up with an impressive victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes where she managed to defeat several of her Oaks rivals. She has a very powerful action and the downs of Epsom should suit her running style and she’ll go very close in a battle with Love.
Roger Varian has decided to take a punt with running twice raced filly GOLD WAND for owner, Mohamed Khalid Abdulrahim, with Andrea Atzeni in the saddle. The daughter of Golden Horn was a beaten favourite on debut when finishing second at Doncaster last October and the form of that race reads as nothing special. She landed her maiden at Newbury last month in hands and heels fashion under Atzeni, but this is a massive step up in grade and it would be surprising to see her gain victory.
LOVE is officially the best filly in the line-up (rated 116) and the only classic winner in the line-up having secured the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month. She was always placed in the right position by jockey Ryan Moore and travelled impressively throughout to win that Guineas in excellent fashion. Aidan O’Brien is looking for his eight victory in the Oaks and a fourth in six years following success more recently with Qualify, Minding and Forever Together.
The main unknown with Love is the step up in trip from one mile at Newmarket to the Oaks trip of 12-furlongs. Her pedigree on the dam side is questionable regarding the distance as Pikaboo never raced beyond one-mile. The counter argument is that none of the last twelve winners of the race had previously run over this trip beforehand, but that’s nothing new for an O’Brien runner. Like Love, both Qualify and Minding both landed this classic having only raced up to one-mile before heading to Epsom.
PASSION broke her maiden at Cork on her second career start last September with the fifth horse home, Lemista boosting the form since with success in both the Park Express and Victor McCalmont Stakes this season for Ger Lyons. She disappointed in the May Hill, before finishing fourth on her comeback run behind Silence Please at Navan and was third in the Ribblesdale behind Frankly Darling. It’s not beyond the possibility of her improving and reaching the frame at a big-price, and remember O’Brien took the Oaks with Was (20/1) in 2012 and Qualify (50/1) in 2015.
The second runner from the Roger Varian camp is QUEEN DAENERYS with William Buick getting the ride on the daughter of Frankel. She finished second on debut to 1000 Guineas second Cloak Of Spirits before breaking her maiden at Newmarket last September. She was well beaten by Love (third) in the Fillies’ Mile also at HQ last October, before finishing second behind Run Wild in the Pretty Polly on her seasonal return – connections should be please with a top four finish at best.
Like many nice horses previously, trainer John Gosden sent TIEMPO VUELA to Newcastle on debut and she broke her maiden in good fashion under jockey Robert Havlin by three-lengths. The second, Tulip Fields is the only rival from that race to win a couple of races since, and it was surprising to see her go off favourite for the Pretty Polly Stakes on her return. You can only imagine she was working well beforehand but finished seventh of the eight runners when coming slightly unbalanced in the closing stages – it’s hard to see her among the challengers at the business end of this classic.
Selection – Love to win
In conclusion, this comes down to a match between LOVE and Frankly Darling, with Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden yet again fighting out the finish in the Oaks. Love has the better form in the book, racing against better opposition to date, including Coronation Stakes winner Alpine Star at the Curragh last season. Her victory in the Guineas suggests she’ll relish the step up in trip and she’ll follow in the footsteps of Qualify and Minding by winning at this trip for the first-time in the Oaks.
Essential Epsom reading
- Timeform’s Epsom Oaks Best Bets For Saturday’s Fillies Classic
- Timeform’s Epsom Derby Best Bets For Saturday’s Showpiece
- Horse Racing Tips: Paddy Power’s Best-Backed Runners In Saturday’s Epsom Derby And Oaks