FRANKIE Dettori and John Gosden enjoyed a pre-Derby boost when Enable burst clear to win the Epsom Oaks.
The pair, who team up in today’s big race with Cracksman, made the most of the lightning and thunder as Aidan O’Brien’s hot favourite, Rhododendron, wilted in the home straight.
There was drama before the race when the American challenger Daddys Lil Darling bolted – literally – and jockey Olivier Peslier had to jump off the filly for his own safety as she hurtled towards the starting stalls. The horse was withdrawn.
A dramatic burst of thunder as the runners circled at the start saw Donnacha O’Brien part company with Pocketfullofdreams, though it was this combination which turned the mile and a half Classic for fillies into a real stamina test before Enable asserted in the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah of Frankel fame.
Dettori, who was winning his fourth Oaks and first since Kazzia in 2002, said: “When I saw Ryan (Moore, on Rhododendron) wasn’t moving alongside me I thought I was in trouble, but once I saw his distress signals coming I knew my filly would stay right to the end.
“She pulled away in the last furlong and is a good mare. She’s only run three times, she’s very good. She’s still a bit of a frame but I think she’ll get better and better. In the back of my mind I thought we had a chance, the rain spoiled it a bit as I was concentrating on my game plan so I didn’t have much time to celebrate crossing the line.”
It was not all bad news for the O’Brien and Moore axis – earlier Breeders’ Cup hero Highland Reel confirmed his status as one of the top mile and a half horses in the world when winning the Coronation Cup from the Godolphin pair of Frontiersman and Hawkbill.