Frankly Darling was the very comfortable winner of the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes over a mile and a half, on Day 1 of Royal Ascot 2020 – Tuesday 16th June.
The victory handed a 50th Royal Ascot success to trainer John Gosden and a 68th to jockey Frankie Dettori.
The Anthony Oppenheimer homebred daughter of Frankel, the 11/8 favourite, came home a length and three-quarters clear of Ennistymon (11/1).
John Gosden said: “Any time you have a winner here – I can remember during this week scrambling one winner, one year having no winners, having six seconds and finally a winner one year. Look, it is not an easy place to win races – as you saw in the Queen Anne.
“Frankly Darling is a lovely filly. She ran only once last year, at Chelmsford. She was a big, rangy girl and a bit unfurnished who needed time to develop. We got a run in and she ran well, and of course she would have gone to the April meeting at Newbury and run in a mile and a quarter fillies’ maiden there and then gone to an Oaks trial, then maybe gone to the Oaks. Obviously that all changed. She luckily got in on the first day at Newcastle – they divided a maiden, so she got to run on June 1 and won well. She’s still learning; as you can see, she was a little wild, there’s a bit of Frankel about her – ‘I want to run and it’s my business if I want to run, not the jockey’s’ – but she showed an awful lot of class today.
“I don’t think I am spoilt for choice for the Oaks. If I have an Oaks filly, it’s her. Miss Yoda ran well, but she showed the affect – you are going to get some horses ‘bounce’ here. She had a hard race in the Lingfield Oaks and to come here, she’s done nothing wrong but has run flat.
“She will be freshened up now, but she’s a Listed winner, which is fantastic. I think we have one Oaks filly only and we don’t have anything remotely related to a Derby horse. That is the way it is.
“It is Royal Ascot. I think it is a huge achievement. This country and many countries in the world have suffered horribly from this sinister disease; it has been devastating. Everything that people are going through, let alone the destruction of our economies and people losing jobs; it is a worldwide problem. So, to be able to come here in this very large amphitheatre in the fresh air, biosecurity – everything’s very tightly run, we are cleaning our hands all the time. It is a very safe place to be and it’s lovely to put on top-quality sport with the best racehorses in Europe, great athletes and great jockeys. We understand that it is a financial blow for the racecourses, but we are putting a show on and it’s great that it’s going out.”
Frankie Dettori said: “Frankly Darling has got some lungs. We were burning plenty of petrol in the first half of the race. She was over-racing a bit, but I managed to slow her down on the turn for home. I thought she had every chance of stopping if she wanted to, but in fairness she galloped out really well. She has got some lungs let me tell you.
“I guess it is all systems go for Epsom for the Oaks. If John and Mr Oppenheimer decide to go down that route I would be delighted. Frankly Darling learned a bit today and she is very exciting.
“Before the first race, it was very hard to pick myself up. I usually walk in and am signing autographs, everybody is slapping me on the back and shouting my name. It was the opposite today. I think I had to have two or three espressos to get me going for the first race. But now the adrenaline is pumping, I had a good battle with Ryan Moore in the second race. I am well warmed up and it’s nice to get one on the board.
“It is now 50 winners for John Gosden, who is an amazing trainer. Look, we are racing and the racing is magnificent. Of course we miss the crowd, but we are putting on a show for the people watching at home who are enjoying the races.
“John is amazing. We have a lot of horses running this week. We just got touched off in the Queen Anne, this looks an amazing filly for the Oaks and Stradivarius is going for a third Gold Cup. We have got amazing owners and it is a pleasure to ride for him. He gives me a tremendous amount of confidence. He is a good boss and a good friend.
“Now that we are three races in it is fine. It was very hard to get going for the first race and a lot of the lads were quiet. I wasn’t going to do a flying dismount, but ITV asked me to do it and it’s not the same without me doing a flying dismount. There’s no crowd, but it’s still Royal Ascot and I thought I should still celebrate in style.”
James Doyle said of the runner-up: “Ennistymon has run well.
“It was hard to come from where we did and the pace was quick. It was hard to make ground but it was a good effort.”
2.25pmRibblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
- Frankly Darling [drawn 6] John Gosden 3-9-00 Frankie Dettori 11/8 Fav
- Ennistymon  Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 James Doyle 11/1
- Passion  Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-00 Ryan Moore 13/2
Winner owned by Anthony Oppenheimer
50th Royal Ascot win for trainer John Gosden
68th Royal Ascot win for jockey Frankie Dettori
Non-Runner: 3 Born With Pride (Going)
Time: 2m 33.29s
Distances: 1¾, 2½
Tote Win:£2.35; Places:£1.35, £2.60, £2.40 Exacta: £17.00