O'Brien run is ended
Flat racing is often guilty of lacking the drama of the jumping code but with driving rain, thunder, lightning, a tearaway runner and a dodgy aeroplane on Epsom Oaks day, there was no shortage of drama for the third British Classic of the season.
Aidan O'Brien's haul of all the British and Irish Classics came to an end as his odds-on favourite Rhododendron was outstayed by the game and very talented filly Enable to land the Oaks for John Gosden and the evergreen Frankie Dettori.
Known for their attention to detail, there was nothing the team at Ballydoyle could do when their intended plane, to carry their Friday runners to Epsom, was grounded at Shannon Airport due to a failure when refuelling. A late arrival to the track didn't prevent Highland Reel from claiming a fifth Group One of the year for O'Brien, however, as he won the Coronation Cup in good style under Ryan Moore.
When Highland Reel won yesterday shortly after three o'clock, he did so under darkening skies, but nothing could prepare anyone for the thunder storm that followed and arrived just before the start of the Oaks and as claps of thunder upset some of the field and saw the American filly Daddys Lil Darling run out of control and be withdrawn prior to the race, it proved to be no deterrent to the talented Enable though.
As the two fillies got down to battle two furlongs from home, it was Enable who came out convincingly on top by an emphatic five lengths.
Enable could now be set for a trip to the Curragh for the Irish Oaks next month but Aidan O'Brien was unsure if Rhododendron just didn't stay and needs to go back in trip or whether or not the eventful day took its toll.
"(Ryan) didn't use the rain as an excuse, he just felt the last furlong seemed like a long furlong. Whether the trip was far enough or because she'd had a very busy day, she still ran very well though. I suppose she wouldn't mind going back in trip," O'Brien said of the dual Classic runner-up.
Gosden said of the winner: "I see no point in going back in trip with Enable now, there's some lovely races, like the Irish Oaks."
Given that it is O'Brien and Gosden who have the top two colts at the head of the betting for the Epsom Derby this afternoon, it would be no surprise now if the Frankie Dettori factor comes into play and sees Cracksman go off favourite for the feature race ahead of Cliffs Of Moher.
O'Brien didn't envisage altering his travel arrangements this morning in light of yesterday's troubles and of that saga he said: "What happened this morning was unavoidable, the lads were doing their best and everyone was doing their best and things just weren't running smoothly."
O'Brien's Coronation Cup and Oaks horses arrived at Epsom shortly before 2pm which is around five hours later than scheduled and the trainer will have six runners in the Derby today.