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Dettori and Anapurna dig deep for Investec Oaks glory

31 May 2019

There was a thrilling finish to the third Classic of the year at Epsom on Friday.

Anapurna, far side, beats Pink Dogwood in the Investec Oaks. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Frankie Dettori was at his brilliant best as he steered Anapurna to a thrilling victory in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Trainer John Gosden fielded two runners in a bid to win the fillies’ Classic for the third time, with impressive Cheshire Oaks heroine Mehdaayih the 11-4 favourite under Robert Havlin and Anapurna an 8-1 shot after landing the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

The victory was a first British Classic for former Series star Frankel as a stallion.

While Mehdaayih pulled for her head early on and met significant traffic problems, Dettori always had Anapurna in prime position and although she was under pressure early in the straight, the daughter of Frankel responded admirably to her rider’s urgings,

Aidan O’Brien’s Pink Dogwood displayed an electric turn of foot to grab the lead racing inside the final two furlongs – but Anapurna dug deep and got up to score by a neck in the QIPCO British Champions Series contest.

In doing so she provided Dettori with his fifth Oaks success following the previous triumphs of Balanchine (1994), Moonshell (1995), Kazzia (2002) and Enable (2017).

Pink Dogwood was a clear second, ahead of her stablemate Fleeting in third.

Gosden said: “A brave performance by the filly and brave from the jockey. He found a gap on the inside. Unfortunately our other filly (Mehdaayih) got nothing but smashed and bumped around everywhere.

“I thought coming past the furlong pole (Ryan) Moore (on Pink Dogwood) had got it, but somehow this filly found the courage of reserves and energy to get her head back in front.

“The last 50 yards are uphill and she basically outstayed the other filly. Full marks to both riders and both fillies – two magnificent fillies.”

Dettori said: “The only thing I was afraid of was inexperience, but I had a great run round. For a minute I couldn’t get out and it took a furlong to get going and Ryan had three lengths on me, but I knew she would come home good.

“I was getting him and then in the last 30 yards I got him. Beautiful.”

The 48-year-old added: “I absolutely love it. My first one (Oaks on Balanchine) was 25 years ago and I’m still here.”

O’Brien said of Pink Dogwood: “She ran a great race. It was her first run over a mile and a half, but she ran a lovely race.

“I don’t know if she was outstayed. She just got collared late and when they do you can always say things like that, but you are never sure.

“We will see how she is and will decide what to do next time.”