Saturday 20 January 2018

Enable pulls off shock to end O'Brien's Classic run

Frankie Dettori dismounts from Enable after winning the Oaks. Photo: Reuters / Matthew Childs
Frankie Dettori dismounts from Enable after winning the Oaks. Photo: Reuters / Matthew Childs

Ashley Iveson

Thunder, lightning and driving rain only added to the drama as Enable upset hot favourite Rhododendron in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Having already won the English and Irish versions of both the 2000 and 1000 Guineas this season, Aidan O'Brien was bidding to maintain his vice-like grip of this year's Classics with Rhododendron, which looked to have outstanding claims.

It had been a fraught morning for team Ballydoyle, with a technical fault with their plane in Ireland meaning the formidable squad did not arrive on track until around the time of the first race.

But all was rosy again after Highland Reel galloped his rivals silly in the Investec Coronation Cup, and Rhododendron was a heavily-backed 8/11 favourite to follow suit.

An ominous storm surrounded the Surrey circuit before the off, which perhaps played a part in the unfortunate turn of events that saw American challenger Daddys Lil Darling bolting to the start before parting company with Olivier Peslier. It ultimately led to her withdrawal.

Almost as soon as the gates opened after the remaining runners had been loaded, so did the heavens and rain bucketed down for the duration of the mile-and-a-half contest.

The pacesetting Pocketfullofdreams looked to have given stablemate Rhododendron the perfect tow into the race when she arrived on the scene travelling powerfully, but she failed to see out the trip as well as John Gosden's Cheshire Oaks heroine Enable (6/1), which looked better the further she went in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Gosden said: "It was an epic battle… in the last furlong she really dominated.

"We can dream of the future, people are already naming races, but I'm taking it one step at a time. I see no point in going back in trip with Enable now, there's some lovely races, like the Irish Oaks."

Highland Reel proved a class apart when stretching his Group One tally to five in the Coronation Cup.

The 9/4 favourite dominated from the front under a typically well-judged ride from Ryan Moore and comfortably held the Godolphin-owned pair of Frontiersman and Hawkbill at bay.

O'Brien said: "What happened this morning was unavoidable.

"It's a big team effort and I'm thankful to them all for making it happen."

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