Epsom Oaks Preview: Queen the value play

Eight will go to post for the 2020 Epsom Oaks.
Eight will go to post for the 2020 Epsom Oaks.

Steve Chambers previews the 2020 Epsom Oaks, which will see a star-studded field line up for the Group 1 feature on Saturday afternoon, and he picks out his best bet for the race...

Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden have dominated the fillies' classic in recent years - both bagging three wins apiece in the last six years - and the star trainers will do battle once again at Epsom Downs on Saturday afternoon, with recent 1000 Guineas winner Love spearheading the O'Brien challenge, while runaway Ribblesdale Stakes winner Frankly Darling will fly the flag for the Gosden team.

Having shone as a juvenile - winning a Group 1 contest during her two-year-old campaign - Love was well-fancied for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and the daughter of Galileo produced a fine, dominant display at Flat HQ, as she scooted to a four and a half length victory to claim the prize with aplomb. Showing a fine turn of foot to kick clear of her rivals that day, Love shaped like the step up to a mile and a half for the Oaks would potentially see some improvement, so it's no surprise to see her heading the Oaks betting at the time of writing.

A smooth traveller, Love is likely to be held up off the pace before she will be unleashed in the closing stages, and if she can replicate the turn of foot she showed in the Guineas, it's hard to not see her being in the frame - but in Frankly Darling she will face a rival that oozed class at Royal Ascot, and is a fascinating adversary for the Gosden team.

Having only broken her maiden tag at Newcastle at the start of June, Frankly Darling improved immeasurably for her third career start as she blitzed a decent field in the Ribblesdale Stakes, defeating fellow Oaks runner Ennistymon by one and three quarter lengths. The daughter of Frankel tracked the pace in the Ribblesdale before being sent clear by Frankie Dettori two furlongs from home. Having gained a few lengths on her rivals, Dettori was just forced to push her out and hands and heels in the closing stages, so there could be more to come.

Ennistymon ran an eye-catching race in second as she was the sole contender that was getting closer to Frankly Darling in the closing stages, so she can't be completely discounted in the Oaks. The daughter of Galileo was only making her third racecourse appearance, and is entitled to continue on an upward curve. If the going is a little quicker at Epsom on Saturday, she could well be a major player once again.

There's a huge chasm in the betting between the top three and the rest of the five runners taking their chance in the Oaks on Epsom Derby day, but with eight runners there could be some eye-catching each-way value for punters if one of the fancied triumvirate were to misfire, and Gold Wand has been installed as fourth favourite.

Roger Varian's charge lacks significant experience - having only made two starts to date during her career - but she was an impressive winner in a maiden event at Newbury last time out. However, this is a much tougher assignment for the daughter of former Derby hero Golden Horn, and she is best watched.

Varian's other challenger Queen Daenerys makes more appeal from an each-way perspective, as she looks to record a second career win. Second on debut to Cloak Of Spirits, who chased home Love in the 1000 Guineas, Queen Daenerys was a winner on good to firm ground at Newmarket, and was then handed the huge task of lining up in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile last autumn, in which she failed to land a blow.

However, she shaped with promise when second in the listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket last month, and now stepping up in trip once again the daughter of Frankel could be a lively outsider, and around the 25/1 mark at the time of writing, she can be the contender to take on the favourites with.

Love and Ennistymon may be at the forefront of O'Brien's charge at a fourth Oaks in seven years, but the Ballydoyle supremo will also saddle Passion, who was last seen finishing third to Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale. Unable to quicken like Frankly Darling, Passion may just lack the pace needed to be victorious in this company, and while O'Brien has won the Oaks with outsiders before (Qualify won at 50/1 in 2015), Passion looks unlikely to follow in her footsteps and be one of those shock winners.

Peter Chapple-Hyam's Bharani Star and the John Gosden-trained Tempo Vuela complete the Oaks octet, and both appear to face a significant uphill task to try and claim classic glory, and this year's renewal of the Epsom Group 1 could be a race fought out by the front two in the betting. However, with a slight preference for Love, there's no value in the O'Brien contender, so it could be worth taking a chance with Queen Daenerys - who is a filly improving with every run, and she could well run into a place.

Selection

Epsom Oaks - 15:40 Epsom, Saturday 4th July - back Queen Daenerys (each way) at 25/1

Epsom Oaks
Queen Daenerys silk

Queen Daenerys (EW)

lost
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