Frankly Darling gave trainer John Gosden his 50th success at Royal Ascot with a convincing victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes.
The daughter of Frankel made light of jumping up in class from a maiden to a Group Two on just her third start.
Frankie Dettori – 30 years on from his first Royal Ascot win on Markofdistinction in the Queen Anne Stakes – gave the well-backed 11-8 favourite a confident ride.
He had Frankly Darling beautifully placed behind the pace-setting Golden Lips before setting sail for home two furlongs from home.
She quickly put the race to bed and was in no danger thereafter, crossing the line a length and three-quarters to the good over the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ennistymon. O’Brien’s Passion was another two and a half lengths away in third place.
Betway cut the winner – who starred at Newcastle on the day racing resumed following the coronavirus shutdown – to 3-1 for the Investec Oaks at Epsom on July 4, with Betfair and Paddy Power going 3-1.
Gosden said: “It’s not an easy place to have winners – as you saw in the Queen Anne (runner-up with Terebellum).
“She’s a lovely filly, she’s still learning but she showed an awful lot of class today. I think if I have an Oaks filly, it’s her.
“This is a lovely filly. She ran only once last year, at Chelmsford. She was a big, rangy girl who needed time to develop.
“She would have gone to the spring meeting at Newbury for a mile-and-a-quarter fillies’ maiden, then probably an Oaks trial and then moved on to the Oaks, but obviously that all changed and she luckily got in on the first day at Newcastle.
“She’s still learning – she was a little wild and has that bit of Frankel about her, saying ‘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 think if I have an Oaks filly it’s her and we don’t have anything remotely related to a Derby horse, but that’s the way it is.
“You don’t normally go Chelmsford, Newcastle, Ribblesdale. That’s an odd path. She is a very talented filly. She has to take on a filly that was quite imperious in winning the 1000 Guineas in Love. She just looked fantastic. That will be quite some match.”
Of his landmark 50th success, Gosden added: “I’m 50 not out! I came to this meeting once and scrambled a winner and another year I had no winners. I remember having six seconds one year – it’s not an easy place to win races.
“I think getting Royal Ascot on is a huge achievement. This country and many countries around the world have suffered horribly from this sinister (coronavirus) disease. It’s been devastating what people have been going through, let alone the destruction of our economy and people losing jobs. It’s a worldwide problem.
“To be able to come here in this very large amphitheatre, in the fresh air – it’s very clean and everything is very tightly run.
“It’s wonderful to be able to put on top-quality sport with the best races and racehorses you can find anywhere in Europe, and some from America. We have great athletes and great jockeys, so it’s great the show is going on.”
Despite the Royal meeting this year being held behind closed doors, Dettori had no hesitation in performing his trademark flying dismount.
He said: “I think it was a six out of 10, to be honest! There’s no crowd, but it’s still a Royal Ascot winner, so I thought I might as well celebrate it in style.
“This filly has got some lungs, let me tell you – we were burning plenty of petrol during the first half of the race. She was over-racing a bit and I had to slow her down on the turn for home and she had every chance if she wanted to, but in fairness she picked up and galloped out really well.
“It’s all systems go, I guess, for Epsom and the Oaks. If John and Mr (Anthony) Oppenheimer decide to go down that route, I’ll be delighted.
“She’s learnt a bit today and I’m very excited about her.”
He added: “For the first race it was hard to pick myself up. I’m usually signing autographs with people slapping you on the back and shouting my name. Today I had to have two or three espressos just to get me going for the first race!
“In the second I had a good battle with Ryan (Moore), so I was well warmed up and it’s nice to get one on the board, particularly for my boss John Gosden, who is an amazing trainer.
“The racing is magnificent. Of course we miss the crowd, but we’re providing a good show for the people at home.”