Phoenix Thoroughbreds are looking forward to their first-ever runner in the Oaks with Bharani Star, an intended runner for Saturday’s classic.
The Daughter of Sea The Stars surprised many with her run in the Group Two Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, finishing fourth at 100/1. It was a strong travelling performance from the three-year-old and trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam feels the result could have been even better.
“Andrea (Atzeni) rode him exactly as I told him to and I perhaps should have been more adventurous,” Chapple-Hyam said.
“If I had her up near the front a bit more, I think we would have seen an even better result. I wasn’t entirely sure she’d stay, and I thought they’d go harder. The way the race was run didn’t really suit horses coming from behind. All in all it was a very good run.”
The performance was enough for the handicapper to take note and raise her initial mark from 71 to 99 and the two-time Derby-winning trainer thinks he has her in as good a form, if not better, coming into her toughest assignment yet.
“She’s done well since Ascot.” continued Chapple-Hyam
“She’s fresh and did a nice piece of work on Tuesday morning and I think she may have improved again.”
On the face of it, she will need to find a bit more on Saturday when she’ll likely face three horses that beat her at Ascot and an impressive 1000 Guineas winner.
“Frankly Darling was very good in the Ribblesdale and we’d probably struggle to beat the ‘top-two’ favourites if they are on top form. However, I see no reason why we can’t possibly turn the form around with Aidan’s two that beat us at Ascot or, at the very least, one of them. I think that’s the best form there is in the race on Saturday. I don’t see anything else apart from the top two or three, in my opinion.”
Despite having surprised the bookmakers once, it appears Bharani Star will again be sent off as the outsider in the field. That’s not something that concerns her trainer.
“I have had a big priced filly place in the Oaks in the past so that never bothers me.
“I know their ability going in and I think I know what it takes to win an Oaks or at least go very close.
“A few that are ahead of her in the betting I don’t think their current form is as good so I wouldn’t be that worried about her price.”
Admittedly then, Phoenix Thoroughbreds will be heading into the race cautiously optimistic about their chances of a good result in their first experience of the middle distance classic, while their trainer is of a similar mind.
“I think she’ll handle Epsom well,” explained Chapple-Hyam
“She’s a strong travelling filly and I’ll be spending the week teaching her to go around a left-handed bend.”
“If we are in the first three I’ll be over the moon. Fourth would be a good result but anything outside that I’d start to get a little disappointed.”
The Oaks is scheduled for 3.40 pm (UK) on Saturday.