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Sobetsu’s big Epsom chance as weather intervenes

J A McGrath

England's fickle weather has forced Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby to revise his plans for Epsom's Investec Derby Festival this weekend. But it may be for the better.

Sobetsu now comes into Friday's G1 Investec Oaks with an excellent winning chance after persistent rain early in the week softened the ground. A dry spell followed but more rain is forecast.

Originally, the Dubawi filly had been ear-marked for a trip to Chantilly for the G1 Prix de Diane later in the month. "But that was always because we felt there was a much better chance of her getting softish ground in France than at Epsom," Appleby explained.

"As it has turned out, Epsom has come up soft, and we would be crazy to pass up the opportunity to run. She's in great form, and she comes to the Oaks off the back of a good win at Deauville," the trainer pointed out.

Sobetsu impressively won the G1 Prix Saint-Alary by three lengths on ground that was officially termed soft. She stamped her authority on the race that is considered a key trial for the Diane (French Oaks).

"I feel she will appreciate the ground as it is at Epsom at present," Appleby added. "The most important thing is there is no jar."

Sobetsu has most to fear from Rhododendron, the Ballydoyle filly, who was runner-up to stablemate Winter in the G1 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Coronet, a strong-finishing third in the Saint-Alary, plus the Chesire Oaks winner Enable and the Kentucky Oaks runner-up Daddys Lil Darling are others with serious claims in an excellent renewal.

The forecast rain prior to Friday's meeting is required for Hawkbill to take his chance in the G1 Coronation Cup on the same card.

"We will have a look mid-morning on Friday. If the rain doesn't materialise, he is unlikely to run," the trainer pointed out.

Frontiersman also represents Appleby, while the other Godolphin runner is Prize Money, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Appleby said: "This is a big step up for Frontiersman but he has a fantastic pedigree and he has done very well physically. I couldn't be happier with the way he has been training."

Highland Reel and his younger brother Idaho are both highly-rated and pose the biggest threat in another intriguing race.