Epsom holds a special place in the heart of Anthony Oppenheimer and on Saturday it could reward the owner-breeder with more glory if Frankly Darling follows up her Ribblesdale Stakes success with victory in the Investec Oaks.
The fillies’ showpiece is the only British Classic that has so far eluded the family’s Hascombe and Valiant Studs. It has been one of Oppenheimer’s long-held ambitions to achieve the full set of Classic wins.
Hascombe and Valiant’s Classic roll of honour began in 1982 when the Harry Wragg-trained On The House, owned and bred by Oppenheimer’s late father Sir Philip, took the 1,000 Guineas.
Since then, the operation has bred the 2005 2,000 Guineas hero Footstepsinthesand and in 2015, Oppenheimer’s silks were carried to victory in the Derby by homebred Golden Horn.
In 2016, Harbour Law captured the St Leger at Doncaster.
On the prospect of completing the full Classic set, Oppenheimer said: “I’d be over the moon because it is what I what I would really love to achieve more than anything else. It has been my real ambition of the last two or three years.”
Having finished second on debut at York in October, Frankly Darling has made rapid progress this season, recording a five-length maiden success at Newcastle before stepping up to take the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The daughter of Frankel, who is out of the Daylami mare Hidden Hope, has been pleasing Oppenheimer and her trainer John Gosden in the interim.
“We’re very happy at the moment and she’s in very good order for Saturday”, said Oppenheimer. “She’ll certainly stay as her dam stayed well over a mile and a half.
“We have another horse, Tiempo Vuela [Lope De Vega – Tempest Fugit (High Chaparral)] in the race. She’s very useful but a bit headstrong so we thought we needed some sort of protection against the Irish horde.
“I think we’ve got, as the betting shows, a second favourite’s chance and I’d go along with that. There are one or two horses in the race who were behind her at Ascot. Obviously, [1,000 Guineas heroine] Love is a fantastic filly and it’s just a matter of going down the hill well and staying well – which we know Frankly Darling will do.
“Love will stay well too, so I’m afraid if she’s that much better than us she’ll beat us.”
Following Monday’s announcement from the British Horseracing Authority that owners will be able to attend race meetings from Saturday under strict protocols, Oppenheimer is waiting to see how the test events on Wednesday and Thursday work out before the weekend’s action.
He added: “I’d like to see what happens today and on Thursday to see what sort of instructions we get for Saturday. There’s not much point in going there and not being able to talk to the trainer, hardly seeing the horse and coming back within an hour – you could see much more on television.
“It’s a question of how it works, and we’ll just wait and see what happens later in the week and what instructions we get from the BHA.”