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John Gosden eyes more glory in Investec Oaks

11 Apr 2018

Trainer has saddled winner of fillies' Classic twice since 2014 and is responsible for five of the 60 entries for this year.

Cashla Bay trainer John Gosden

Gosden has a handful of entries in the Investec Oaks. Picture:

John Gosden has five entries in the Investec Oaks at Epsom on June 1 as he seeks to win the £500,000 fillies’ Classic for the third time in five years.

The leading Newmarket trainer was on the mark with the outstanding Enable last year and also struck with Taghrooda in 2014.

This year the showpiece has attracted 60 entries – up from 54 last year – with Gosden’s handful of possibles including the Godolphin-owned Aim Of Artemis, a million guineas purchase at Tattersalls in December after winning a novice contest at Leicester trainer for Sir Michael Stoute, and Highgarden, a daughter of Nathaniel who won in taking style on her debut at Newbury in October.

Aidan O’Brien is responsible for 23 of the entries, with his battalion including dual Group 1 winner Happily, who is the 11-2 favourite with Unibet, and Ascot scorer September, who met trouble in running when going down by a nose to Laurens in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in the autumn.

It has been 25 years since the Investec Oaks was won by a French challenger, when the Andre Fabre-trained Intrepidity triumphed in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed.

The French entry this time includes the Francis Graffard-trained Homerique. The daughter of Exchange Rate made an impressive debut at Chantilly on April 3, when taking a 10-furlong fillies’ maiden by eight lengths on testing ground.

“Homerique has come out of Chantilly really well,” Graffard said. “The plan is to run her next in the Prix Penelope [10.5f] at Saint-Cloud on May 1, and we have made an entry for the Investec Oaks just to keep all options open for her.

“I think she is a better filly on good ground and I was quite surprised by the way she won at Chantilly.

“I knew she was a good filly, but I was not expecting her to win as she did on the ground because it was very soft. She can obviously handle all types of ground.”

Godolphin’s principal trainers Charlie Appleby and Saeed bin Suroor have five Investec Oaks entries between them. Appleby’s two contenders include Wild Illusion, winner of the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac in October, while bin Suroor could run UAE 1,000 Guineas scorer Winter Lightning.

Dual Investec Oaks-winning trainer Ralph Beckett is responsible for two unbeaten fillies in Kinaesthesia and Cecchini.

The Irish challenge could also feature Liquid Amber, one of of our selected Dark Horses for this year.