The Group 1 Investec Oaks would usually be the feature race on the Friday of this weekend but due to circumstances around the country of late, the race will share the stage with the Epsom Derby on Saturday. It looks an intriguing clash and a race in which Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have dominated in recent years. Aidan O’Brien will go in search of his eighth victory this weekend while John Gosden will be looking for back to back success after landing this race last term with Anapurna, so its no surprise to see their fillies heading up the market.

The first of the Irish raider’s to examine is LOVE (Best price 11-10) trained by Aidan O’Brien and she sits on top of the market after an impressive victory in the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket on seasonal return. She was quietly fancied on the day despite going off a 4/1 shot but put to bed any doubts the market may have had when she pulled 4 ¼ lengths clear once inside the final furlong. She travelled smoothly into contention on the outside of the field and stuck to her task well once hitting the rising ground showing a likeable attitude. She is a winner of four of her eight starts and is improving all the time, she is, of course, untried at this trip but that’s not a negative when looking at the stats. None of the last twelve winners of the race had previously run over this trip before seeing the winner’s enclosure and the way she travels through the race would give you every confidence of her seeing out this 1m4f distance. She is a well-balanced filly and handled the “dip” at Newmarket with the minimum of fuss and is held in high regard by connections. However, her price is awfully short for one whose form has taken some knocks recently, the second, third and fourth from the 1,000 Guineas have all been well beaten on their next outings. There is an argument to say that the horses she beat may have had their next races’ come too soon after their Newmarket test given a compressed programme this term with Royal Ascot just 13 days later. However, there is also reason to think the from is simply just not up to much given third didn’t run-up to the level of her overly excessive rating of 114 in first-time tongue-tie and the highest-rated horse in the field, Millisle (115), was running over the wrong trip. Add in that only two of the last twelve favourites have obliged in this race and that she will be looking to be the first horse since the great Minding to win the 1,000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks double, I think I can sleep well leaving the short price tag alone, despite her connections.

The John Gosden trained FRANKLY DARLING (Best Price 2-1) and daughter of Frankel is snapping at the former in the betting market after her impressive victory in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot over today’s trip of 1m4f. She took the scalps of two of today’s rivals and the official handicapper was certainly impressed giving her a 20lb hike in the ratings from a mark of 90 to 110. She raced keenly in the early stages but travelled beautifully throughout the race and took the running up on the turn in to the home straight advertising a very smart turn of foot to finish out the race under a hand and heels ride. She is now a winner of two of her three starts and there looks to be no ceiling to what she can achieve and given her stamina is assured here she looks worth her place towards the head of the market. If you were to be critical of her you could suggest that she is yet to be put into the middle of a race after heading affairs at Ascot and being kept wide on her previous start at Newcastle. The draw and the start will likely play a huge part in proceedings and given she did over-race in the early stages at Ascot, that could put pay to her chances should she fall into midfield during the early scrimmaging. The above-mentioned stat (0/12 to win having run at this trip prior) would also be a concern but you are knit-picking and she holds valid claims all be it her price is a little off-putting.

Maiden winner’s ENNISTYMON (Best Price 7-1) and PASSION (Best Price 20-1) are likely to make up the Irish contingent for Aidan O’Brien and the former sits more prominent in the market after finishing in front of her stablemate in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes won by Frankly Darling. The former needs to make up 1 ¾ length's on the John Gosden runner but she did the best of those held up at Ascot and came three-wide into the home straight. She travelled with purpose on the inside rail and pulled off turning for home losing ground as she negotiated for racing room and stayed on strongly. She ran faster splits that the winner inside the final three furlongs at every stage but Frankly Darling was only being nursed home at this point. She is a winner of one of her three starts but took a big step forward at Ascot when first tried over today’s 1m4f trip. She was race fit from her previous run at Leopardstown and given Aidan O’Brien’s horses tend to take a big step forward for a reappearance run, it is difficult to see her making up the margin in a truly run affair. With that being said, she has time on her side and a strong pace on the front end would suit her and she could be a lively player outside of the front two in the market and surely will be shorter than this price on the day of the race. The latter, Passion, has been somewhat of a slow burner for the stable but she improved for the trip at Ascot and took a step forward this season with the application of cheek-pieces. She ran a nice race at Ascot but faded in the closing stages when her stablemate, Ennistymon, put clear daylight between the pair. It’s hard to see her involved and the preference would be for the first mention of the two.

DUBAI LOVE (Best Price 40-1) is no forlorn hope here despite being beaten in a handicap on her latest start at Royal Ascot off top weight but she will need to improve to be involved in the business end. She is a smart filly and won the UAE 1,000 Guineas with the minimum of fuss in January in Meydan and there is stamina in her pedigree being out of a Dylan Thomas mare. The soft ground was likely against her at Ascot so connections wouldn’t want to see the heavens open but if the rain stays away an improved showing can be expected here and there aren’t many negatives for one being so highly-priced, but it is wise to wait for the day.

Of the bigger outsiders worth a mention QUEEN DAENERYS (Best price 25-1) will appreciate this longer trip given the way she shaped behind Run Wild at Newmarket on seasonal return and looks a well-balanced filly that is progressing with each start. ORIENTAL MYSTIQUE (Best Price 40-1) despite only rated a lowly 88 showed glimpses of promise in her two starts as a two-year-old and although disappointed on season return she can likely take a step forward from that run given the trainer's horses have all needed their reappearances.

This is a tricky race and those at the head of the market have their negatives to be taking such a short price about and with the likely strong pace going to be set by a Ballydoyle pacemaker the eye is drawn to Ennistymon. However, DUBAI LOVE (Best Price 40-1), if the ground is on the quick side, would be a fair each-way bet at a price although I will be keeping my powder dry until we know the weather conditions. It’s hard to make a strong case against FRANKLY DARLING who looks the most likely winner and she would rate a bet if by some miracle 3-1 pops up on the screen.