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The Investec Oaks

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History

Like the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, the Investec Oaks is a fillies-only Classic, run at Epsom Downs in June over the same mile-and-a-half (2,400 metres) distance as the Investec Derby.

The 2010 race was won by Snow Fairy, giving the previous season’s Champion Jockey, Ryan Moore, his first Classic win. The horse had been so unfancied, months before, that one punter was able to put £4 on her… at 999-1. Moore went on the complete a memorable Epsom double 24 hours later by taking the Investec Derby on the mighty Workforce.

Epsom certainly provides the ultimate test, with an undulating, stamina-sapping course comprising deceptive cambers and a challenging decent into Tattenham Corner. Fillies taking part usually appear in one or more trial races before the Investec Oaks.

The ladies take centre stage off the course as well, with the race being staged on ‘Ladies Day’, when colourful hats and dresses are very much in evidence.The Investec Oaks was established in 1779, one year before the Derby, and was named after a house near Epsom, leased by the 12th Earl of Derby and who had invited guests at one of his parties there to come and race their horses.

The Investec Oaks, QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Ladbrokes St Leger, the final Classic of the season, make up the Fillies’ Triple Crown. Only seven horses have ever won all three races in a season, the Henry Cecil-trained Oh So Sharp the most recent in 1985.

Current leading jockey: Kieren Fallon, 4 wins (1997, 1999, 2004, 2006)
Current leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien, 5 wins (1998, 2001, 2006, 2012, 2015)

Previous winners

Year Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Prize money

Entries

Going/Track

Weather

No/Draw Horse/Jockey Age Form/Type BHA Rating Weight Trainer Odds

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Enable thunders to Oaks victory

Trainer John Gosden and owner Khalid Abdullah registered their second victories in the Investec Oaks as Enable won a dramatic running of the fillies’ Classic at Epsom Downs.

Thunder and lightning rolled around the course when the horses were in the paddock and, after a humid day, the race was run in heavy rain and poor visibility for the jockeys.

It did not stop Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori, who was registering his fourth victory in the contest, winning in a record time.

The three-year-old daughter of Nathaniel travelled well throughout the 1m4f event and engaged in a pulsating battle with 8-11 favourite Rhododendron, trained by Aidan O’Brien, in the home straight.

Gosden’s filly, an impressive winner of the Cheshire Oaks at Chester last time, surged clear in the closing stages to win decisively by five lengths. Rhododendron’s stable companion, Alluringly, stayed on well to finish a further six-lengths back in third.

“The quality in the field today was so recognisable and I thought this was a top-quality Oaks,” Gosden said. “I was absolutely terrified of Rhododendron coming into the race.

“With what Winter has achieved [British-Irish 1000 Guineas double] and how unlucky she was at Newmarket [QIPCO 1000 Guineas], given we were taking her on with a Listed winner, of course I was terrified. However, my attitude was that we could make a real race of it rather than we could actually win.

“I thought coming here today that there was a good chance we might do this and we have. It’s great for Nathaniel to get a Classic winner in his first crop.”

As for future plans, he added: “Khalid [Abdullah, owner] has strong views as to where he likes his horses to run as he knows the race programme inside out, but you have races like the Irish Oaks or go for the King George so these are all things to think about. We can dream of the future.

“I would not see the point of taking her back to mile and a quarter because there so many wonderful races at a mile and a half.”

By contrast, Rhododendron could drop back in trip. Aidan O’Brien, her trainer, said: “Ryan just felt the last furlong was a long furlong on our filly. I would say that Rhododendron would be very happy going back down in trip.”

Results

Position Horse Jockey Trainer Owner
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The Course

If it weren’t for the 12th Earl of Derby, perhaps Epsom would be best known for natural mineral water, London commuters or bath salts. That or the fact that Led Zepplin’s Jimmy Page came from the Surrey town. As it is, Epsom stands for horseracing, and the Investec Oaks and the Investec Derby in particular.

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The earl invited his friends to race their fillies on the Epsom Downs in 1779 and thus The Oaks was born. A year later and a second race, for colts and fillies, was introduced. A toss of a coin and it became known as The Derby (if the earl’s friend, Sir Charles Bunbury, had called right then flat racing’s Blue Riband event might today be called ‘The Epsom Bunbury’).

The racecourse has witnessed some of the sport’s most glorious moments, with Nijinsky, Mill Reef and Shergar among the horses to enter the winner’s enclosure. It has also seen tragedy, however, when suffragette Emily Davison threw herself in front of King George V’s horse Anmer in 1913 and died of a fractured skull.

Getting there

Epsom Downs
KT18 5LQ

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