x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Rainbow must stand firm

The fancied filly is highly fancied to land this afternoon's Oaks at Epsom, but has to conquer her nerves and temperament.

LONDON // Rainbow View is highly fancied to land this afternoon's Oaks at Epsom. It is the temperament of last year's champion two-year-old filly, however, that threatens to derail her challenge for the ladies' Day centrepiece. In contrast to her ultra-relaxed trainer, John Gosden, Rainbow View is a nervous filly. It was not a problem last year, when her superior ability saw her finish the season unbeaten in four starts, the last of which was the decisive success in the Group 1 Fillies' Mile at Ascot.

Although Rainbow View stayed calm throughout the preliminaries to last month's 1,000 Guineas, in which she finished fifth, the firm going forced her to put on a jittery display. With London basked in sunshine for the past few days, it must be a significant worry once more. "She is maturing," revealed Gosden, seemingly unconcerned. "We schooled her a lot in the paddock before she ran in the Guineas, but she really hated the ground there."

There is also the unknown factor of Epsom's idiosyncratic mile-and-a-half, which is the furthest that Rainbow View will have raced before. "I could guarantee her to 10 furlongs," Gosden said hopefully. "Remember she won at Ascot and that is a stiff uphill that climbs and climbs. "We went to Epsom last week for her to have a look at the place, have a sweat, bounce around and she cantered down to the start nicely."

If Gosden is hopeful about the outcome of today's Classic, he is far more pragmatic with regards to tomorrow's assignment. Gosden saddles Debussy, an outsider not without hope that runs in the colours of last year's winning owner, Princess Haya of Jordan. The Diesis colt is unlikely to beat all 12 of the colts that are entered, and although he can boast a victory around Epsom's undulating camber already, he has a daunting mission ahead of him.

Aidan O'Brien lines up six colts of which Fame and Glory and Rip Van Winkle are vying for favouritism. The Irish challenge also boasts of Sea the Stars. If that wasn't enough, Jim Bolger, who trained New Approach to Derby glory last year, has entered 2,000 Guineas third Gan Amhras. Only three times in the 229 previous runnings of the Derby have foreign raiders managed to blank English-trained horses for first, second or third place, and it is something that Gosden is well aware of.

"It is a high-quality event and the challenge is formidable," he continued. "Clearly Princess Haya had a wonderful day last year, and as it is the most valuable flat race in the English calendar at £1.25m (Dh7.5m), I think it would be a bit wet not to have a crack at it." griddle@thenational.ae