It was another day to remember for multiple classic winning jockey Frankie Dettori as he guided John Gosden’s Anapurna to victory in the Oaks at Epsom. While Gosden was winning an impressive 10th classic, Dettori is a more regular visitor to the winner’s enclosure in these most prestigious of races and he was winning his fifth Epsom Oaks.
Anapurna was the lesser fancied of the two Gosden runners at the head of the market, their other runner Mehdaayih went off favourite, but Dettori didn’t have the choice of rides with the stable maintaining loyalty to Mehdaayih’s regular jockey Rab Havlin. Dettori wouldn’t commit after the race which he would have chosen had he had to pick, saying that although Mehdaayih had “the better turn of foot I knew my filly would stay.”
Dettori wasn’t ideally drawn in the number three stall and, determined to get a good position, he had his mount smartly away, moving into a relatively prominent position from the off. Racing through the race in third or fourth place in a nice position on the rail, when they turned for home around Tattenham Corner Dettori immediately urged his horse forward. As they made their way up the home straight Anapurna took up the running with just over two furlongs to go, but she led only briefly as Ryan Moore had the Aidan O’Brien filly Pink Dogwood rolling on the outside.
It looked like Moore was going to run out a comfortable winner but Anapurna, whose stamina had already been proven in the recent Lingfield Oaks Trial didn’t let her get away and as they went inside the final furlong she was starting to fight back. As they neared the post Anapurna’s stamina started to really kick in and she overhauled her rival as they hit the rising ground. “She basically outstayed the other filly” said Gosden.
He was also keen to pay tribute to the owner-breeders Meon Vally Stud saying “She’s bred by wonderful owner-breeders, and for owner-breeders to win the Oaks like this is what it’s all about.”
It was a red letter day not only for connections but also for Anapurna’s sire, Frankel, for whom this was a maiden classic win in the UK.
Earlier in the card trainer Roger Varian notched up his second win in the Group 1 Coronation Cup with 11/1 shot Defoe who held off Aidan O’Brien’s St Leger winner Kew Gardens by a comfortable half length.
In the race both Defoe and Kew Gardens were held up and both were unleashed in the home straight. Kew Gardens had a clear run up the outside and looked the likely winner but Defoe, who had to negotiate some traffic on the rails was the one who, like Anapurna later in the card, stayed on strongest up the hill.
Defoe was given a 6/1 quote for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in mid-June.