Dubai: Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Surour goes in search of a third Epsom Oaks trophy on Saturday with Dubai Love, a horse that has often been described as a “staying filly”.
Bin Surour is hopeful that Dubai Love can make the step up in class and give a good account of herself in a race that he has won twice in past with Moonshell in 1995 and Kazzia in 2002.
Dubai Love first announced herself as an Oaks filly when posting a domination victory in the UAE 1,000 Guineas at Meydan where she finish full of running under jockey Pat Cosgrave.
However, in the Group 3 UAE Oaks in February, she met her match in American raider Emblem Storm and Zabeel Stable’s filly Taz to finish third.
On her European debut at Royal Ascot earlier this month the daughter of Night of Thunder was an encouraging race when chasing home Onassis and Waliyak in the Sandringham Handicap.
“She’s an improving horse who we really like a lot,” said Bin Surour. “It’s a tough race with so many good horses but three youngsters are still learning their craft and getting better with each visit to the racecourse.
“We expect her to run a good race should she handle the Epsom track, which is a challenging surface for any young horse.”
Love, representing seven-time Oaks winning handler Aidan O’Brien is the 11/8 favourite.
A daughter of Galileo, Love is already a Classic winner having taken the Group 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on June 7.
A total of 48 fillies have completed the 1000 Guineas-Oaks double, most recently the O’Brien-trained Minding in 2016.
In addition to Love, O’Brien has also entered G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Peaceful plus G2 Ribblesdale Stakes second Ennistymon and Passion.
The master of Ballydoyle’s preview wins in the Oaks came with Shahtoush (1998), Imagine (2001), Alexandrova (2006), Was (2012), Qualify (2015), Minding (2016) and Forever Together (2018).
Two of the latest three runnings of the race have been won by horses trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori including the great Enable (2017) and Anapurna (2019) most recently
The Gosden-Dettori combination is set to be represented on Saturday by Frankly Darling, an impressive winner of the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Gosden has also entered Tiempo Vuela, who was an eye-catching winner on her only juvenile start but unplaced when running very freely in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month.
Another trainer doubly represented is Roger Varian with Gold Wand and Queen Daenerys.
Gold Wand, a daughter of 2015 Derby hero Golden Horn, was a stylish winner of a 10-furlong maiden at Newbury on June 11 while Queen Daenerys was runner-up on her return to action in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on June 7.
Completing the entries are Ribblesdale Stakes fourth Bharani Star, who is owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred Limited and trainer by Peter Chapple-Hyam and Oriental Mystique (David Simcock).
For the first time ever, the Investec Oaks and Investec Derby will both take place at Epsom Downs on the same day — Saturday, July 4.
Racing will be held without a live audience and under strict social distancing regulations suggested by the BHA ad British government.
Epsom Oaks (Group 1), 5.40pm UAE, 1m 4f
Runner (owners), trainers
1. Bharani Star (Phoenix Thoroughbred Ltd), Peter Chapple-Hyam
2. Dubai Love (Godolphin), Saeed Bin Surour
3. Ennistymon (Evie Stockwell), Aidan O’Brien
4. Frankly Darling (Anthony Oppenheimer), John Gosden
5. Gold Wand (Mohammad Khalid Abdulrahim), Roger Varian
6. Love (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier), Aidan O’Brien
7. Oriental Mystique (Kirsten Rausing), David Simcock
8. Passion (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith), Aidan O’Brien
9. Peaceful (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier), Aidan O’Brien
10. Queen Daenerys (Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa), Roger Varian
11. Tiempo Vuela (A E Oppenheimer and Sophie), John Gosden