GB: Roger Varian is set to saddle both Gold Wand and Queen Daenerys in the Investec Oaks (3.40pm BST) on Saturday as he bids to break the stranglehold exerted by Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden.
Between them, O’Brien and Gosden have won the last six runnings of the fillies’ Classic – and they will saddle five of the eight runners in the Epsom contest, including market leaders Love and Frankly Darling.
O’Brien, who has won the Oaks seven times altogether, also saddles third-favourite Ennistymon. But next comes Gold Wand, a daughter of Golden Horn who created a good impression when winning a 1m2f maiden last month at Newbury.
The mount of Andrea Atzeni, she is joined by Varian-trained stablemate Queen Daenerys (William Buick), a Frankel filly who was runner-up in Newmarket’s Pretty Polly Stakes.
“My two are nice fillies and we feel they deserve to take their chance,” said Varian on Thursday morning.
“Gold Wand’s a filly we’ve always thought the world of,” he went on, speaking to the Qipco British Champions Series media team.
“She’s probably a touch unfortunate that in this unusual year she’s not had time to run twice before the Oaks. She would have been a filly to win a novice the way she did and then go on to an Oaks trial but we didn’t have time to do that and I didn’t think she was one to have three quick runs.
“Everything has gone smoothly since she won at Newbury,” added Varian, whose sole previous Classic victory came via Kingston Hill in the 2014 St Leger.
“She’s obviously got to take a big step forward but I think she’s very talented and I’m hoping that she can overcome her inexperience and show what she’s capable of.
“She shows a high level of ability at home and we wouldn’t be running her in an Oaks unless we saw that from her. There’s only one Oaks and it’s very exciting for her owner.”
A Newmarket winner at two, Queen Daenerys was doing her best work at the finish behind Run Wild in the Pretty Polly.
Varian commented: “Queen Daenerys has not done much wrong in her career and I thought she ran a nice Oaks trial in the Pretty Polly, when she needed the run and looked to be crying out for an extra two furlongs.
“She had to dig in there after getting outpaced mid-race and could have easily dropped out, but she did her best work late on. She’s going to get better the further she goes.
“She’s taken a step forward for that run,” the trained added.
“She’s quite uncomplicated and the drying ground will suit her. She’s got to bring a new level of form to the table to be fighting out the finish but she’s a filly who’s only had four starts and her form reads well. I think she will outrun her odds.”
Varian had four winners and several other near-misses at Royal Ascot last month and said: “We’ve got to be very grateful to our owners because it shows we are building a depth of talent in the yard.
“A trainer’s only ever as good as the horses he gets to train. We have a nice spread of good owners sending us nice horses and it was rewarding to go to Ascot with a strong team and watch the majority run well. I hope it bodes well for the festivals to come.”
The Investec Oaks is part of the Qipco British Champions Series and this year will take place on the same day as the Investec Derby for the first time.
Investec Oaks betting
Coral: 11-10 Love, 15-8 Frankly Darling, 13-2 Ennistymon, 14 Gold Wand, 18 Passion, 25 Queen Daenerys, 40 Bharani Star, Tiempo Vuela.