A field of eight goes to post for the £250,000 G1 Investec Oaks (3.40pm) at Epsom Downs this Saturday, 4th July.
Heading the market with official betting partner Unibet is Love (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore). The daughter of Galileo is seeking a second Classic success as she steps up to a mile and a half for the first time, having taken the mile G1 QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on 7th June. The latest of the 48 fillies to have followed up success in the Newmarket Classic with victory at Epsom Downs was the O’Brien-trained Minding in 2016.
O’Brien is also set to saddle Ennistymon (Seamie Heffernan) and Passion (Padraig Beggy), second and third respectively in the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot on 16th June. The master of Ballydoyle is the most successful current trainer in the Investec Oaks with seven victories – Shahtoush (1998), Imagine (2001), Alexandrova (2006), Was (2012), Qualify (2015), Minding (2016) and Forever Together (2018).
The Ribblesdale Stakes was won impressively by Frankly Darling (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori) and the Frankel filly is the second favourite with Unibet. Gosden, who has landed two of the last three renewals of the Investec Oaks with the great Enable (2017) and Anapurna (2019), also saddles Tiempo Vuela (Martin Harley). The Lope De Vega filly won her only start at Newcastle in 2019 but was only seventh on her seasonal reappearance at Newmarket in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on 7th June when running very freely.
Bharani Star (Peter Chapple-Hyam/Oisin Murphy) also contested the Ribblesdale Stakes, coming home a staying-on fourth. The Sea The Stars filly had previously dead-heated in a handicap just short of a mile and a half at Haydock Park on 8th June. Her trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam has had seven previous Investec Oaks runners, faring best with third-placed Oakmead in 1993.
Chapple-Hyam, who is based in Newmarket, said this morning: “Bharani Star is in good form and all set for the Investec Oaks. There are only eight runners and hopefully she can run a big race.
“It is going to be tough, but she seems to have improved from Royal Ascot and I am very pleased with her at home.
“I was delighted with Bharani Star’s run at Royal Ascot. It was my plan to ride her the way we did, and Andrea Atzeni followed it to the letter.
“With hindsight, I think she probably could have finished closer and I think she has progressed again from the Ribblesdale.
“I don’t think the track will hold any problems and hopefully she can run well.
“It is great to have a runner in the Oaks and we are looking forward to it.”
Completing the line-up are two runners from Newmarket trainer Roger Varian – Gold Wand (Andrea Atzeni) and Queen Daenerys (William Buick). Gold Wand, a daughter of 2015 Investec Derby hero Golden Horn, was an impressive winner of a 10-furlong maiden at Newbury on 11th June while Queen Daenerys was runner-up on her return to action in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on 7th June.
The Investec Oaks is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.