Investec Oaks preview: Love and Frankly Darling ready for battle at Epsom

Fri 3 Jul 2020

Click here to view our Investec Oaks runner-by-runner guide.

Owner Anthony Oppenheimer believes the fact no spectators will be at Epsom on Saturday for the Investec Oaks could boost the chances of his filly Frankly Darling.

The daughter of Frankel has come a long way in a short space of time, as she was still a maiden when racing resumed on June 1.

She was the undoubted star in action when racing returned at Newcastle, with the John Gosden-trained filly bolting up and subsequently going on to land the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

That race would normally come after the Oaks, but in this mixed up season it was seen as a trial for Epsom.

Frankly Darling created a big impression at Royal Ascot
Frankly Darling created a big impression at Royal Ascot

“It’s all happened very suddenly with her, but she’s absolutely fine – John Gosden wouldn’t dream of running her if she wasn’t,” said Oppenheimer, who won the Derby in 2015 with Golden Horn.

“Straight after the Ribbelsdale she immediately ate up and then the next day she ate twice as much. He’s more than happy she’s ready to go.

“The fact she was keen early at Ascot is going to be one of the problems, a lot of the Frankels are like that, they do tend to pull and she’s very inexperienced.

“With Frankie (Dettori) on board and hopefully something in front of her we’ll see what happens, but it’s always going to be a danger.

“With a huge crowd on Tattenham Corner, that might have been a problem, but without it it might suit her. With the master jockey on he might be able to restrain her. He’s seen it all and is a quick thinker.

“The best filly will win, it’s a small field which is always good. There shouldn’t be a problem. Epsom is not like Sandown where if you are trapped on that rail, even in a small field like Bosra Sham was (in the Eclipse), you’ve nowhere to go.

“At Epsom they spread out a bit and it’s not too firm so they can move around a bit.”

Frankly Darling’s main market rival is Aidan O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas winner Love, but the Newmarket Classic winner is stepping up half a mile in trip.

Watch a full replay of Love's victory in the Qipco 1000 Guineas

“Love is obviously a very good filly and if she can reproduce her Oaks form she’ll probably beat us, but we’ve no idea,” said Oppenheimer.

“I have so many nerves in me you wouldn’t believe! I’m not going to go, I’m going to stay and watch it at home with my family. They couldn’t all come with me.

“They were with me for the Derby and other big races I’ve won and they all want to watch it, so it would be sad if some were on course and others weren’t.”

While nothing is ever certain in horse racing, especially when it comes to stamina, O’Brien is confident Love will see out the trip.

“Everything has been good with Love. The plan was always to go to the Guineas and then here. It’s a big step up in trip, but we always thought she’d be comfortable doing that. With a nice bit of ground hopefully she’ll be happy,” he said.

“We were happy before the Guineas, but as she got a mile well at two we weren’t sure about that. Ryan (Moore) gave her an uncomplicated ride and gave her a chance to show her best attributes.

“The gap between the Guineas and the Oaks also gives her a chance, she never missed a beat the whole way. The timing is lovely.”

O’Brien can also call on Ennistymon and Passion, who were placed behind Frankly Darling at Ascot.

“Ennistymon is good. James (Doyle) was very happy with her at Ascot. That was her first time over a mile and a half and she seemed to get the trip well. Everything has gone well since. We’re looking forward to seeing her run.

“Passion is very well also and we’ve been happy with her since Ascot. She’s a round type of filly so we thought she would come forward from Ascot and we think that she has.

“She’s very straightforward and uncomplicated. Ascot was a little messy and she got caught behind, but Ryan was very happy with her and she got the trip very well.”

Roger Varian’s Gold Wand is unexposed with just two runs under her belt, but she beat a well-bred type last time.

Gold Wand scored at Newbury last time out

“Gold Wand is a promising filly that lacks a little bit of experience. She has always looked like a classy filly at home. It is a funny year as usually she would have won her novice then gone for a trial, not straight into an Oaks,” said Varian.

“She looks good at home and we are backing her ability. We are very excited about running her, she is a very nice filly.

“They didn’t go much of a gallop at Newbury and she was a little bit fresh on the day, but she got the job done well. She was going away from the field at the line. Her run at Doncaster as a two-year-old was a nice race and over the winter I hoped she might be an Oaks filly. She will tell us a lot on Saturday. ”

Varian also runs Queen Daenerys and added: “She is a filly that is not flashy at home and doesn’t give us many clues. I knew she would have needed the run at Newmarket (when second to Run Wild). They went a relentless gallop and not many got in it that day.

“She will appreciate the extra two furlongs so that will be in her favour and she is a well-balanced filly, so she should handle Epsom. She has got to find another level to win an Oaks, but she will come forward for her Pretty Polly run. She is a lively outsider.”

Peter Chapple-Hyam runs Bharani Star, who outran her odds to be fourth in the Ribblesdale.

“I think she’ll handle Epsom well,” said Chapple-Hyam.

“A few that are ahead of her in the betting I don’t think their current form is as good, so I wouldn’t be that worried about her price.

“If we are in the first three I’ll be over the moon. Fourth would be a good result, but anything outside that I’d start to get a little disappointed.”

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