Dettori delivers as Enable takes Oaks under thundery skies

Dettori delivers as Enable takes Oaks under thundery skies
By Sportsbeat

03/06/2017 at 00:30

Frankie Dettori kept his cool as all around him were losing their heads to deliver a stunning victory in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Aidan O'Brien's odds-on favourite Rhododendron, who had a nightmare journey to the course from Ireland, wilted with the step up in trip and trainer John Gosden's Enable duly took advantage in the driving rain.

It was a dramatic and brilliantly executed victory from Dettori, who hasn't won an Oaks since 2002. He kept his charge calm throughout tense preliminaries, during which two jockeys were thrown off their horses as lightning flashes lit up leaden skies.

"I've ridden some great fillies and I think this one will get better and better," said Dettori, who will now look at strike a double on strong fancy Cracksman in Saturday's Derby, the next race in the Qipco British Champions Series.

"It's been a while since I've won the Oaks, so it means a lot. I thought I was in trouble for a while but I knew she'd stay and team have done such an amazing job with her."

Gosden wins the race for the second time, following his win with Taghrooda in 2014. And while thoughts will immediately turn to what's next, he was determined to savour the moment.

"That was a proper race and if the lightning wasn't terrifying enough, that was some fight to the end. I thought Rhododendron was going to get us but we just held on," he said.

"It was a really strong pace but Frankie knew what he was doing, he's pound for pound the best jockey I've ever put on a horse, he's just exceptional.

"I always thought we had a good chance and we did it. She's a big girl and we can dream of the future now. I know people want to know what is next for her but let's take it one race at a time."

Gosden will now look for more glory in Saturday's Investec Derby, where trial winner Cracksman, despite his inexperience, will start among the favourites for the £1.6 million race.

"He's pleased me a lot, I know he is light on experience but we are going in with every chance but I'd like to enjoy this for a while before thinking about it!" he added.

There was drama before the race even started with US raider Daddys Lil Darling throwing off jockey Olivier Peslier on the way to the start and Pocketfullofdreams unseating Donnacha O'Brien just outside the stalls.

It marks another disappointing trip across the Atlantic for Kentucky-based trainer Kenny McPeek. Three years ago, at Royal Ascot, his charge Rosalind unshipped Kieren Fallon just yards into their race.

Rhododendron's defeat - O'Brien's first Classics failure this season - followed a difficult day for the Ballydoyle handler, whose runners were delayed by flight problems and traffic delays, arriving at the course after racing had started.

Despite this Highland Reel underlined his class to win the Investec Coronation Cup, taking his career prize money to £5.5 million pounds with his fifth group one success.

O'Brien's Breeders' Cup Turf champion produced a front-running performance under jockey Ryan Moore and will now have a range of targets to add to his winnings, including the Prince of Wales Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot later this month.

Sportsbeat 2017