Super six for O'Brien as 'incredible' Minding leaves rivals in her wake
Even a nasty mid-race incident and a less-than-ideal preparation could not prevent Minding from stamping herself as one of the best fillies of modern times in the Investec Oaks at Epsom yesterday.
It is scary to imagine how far she might have won if Ryan Moore had not been hemmed in and leaned on in some heavy congestion coming around Tattenham Corner, although a length-and-three-quarters victory to become the first to complete the English Classic double in 14 years is a more than adequate achievement.
Minding had been taken to The Curragh less than a fortnight earlier in a late switch, attempting to add the Irish Guineas to her Newmarket success, but hit her head in the stalls and yet was still beaten only a whisker on testing ground. Hardly the traditional preparation.
This failed to deter punters from the tried-and-tested combination of Moore and Aidan O'Brien, sending the daughter of Galileo off the 10/11 favourite over the unknown mile-and-a-half trip and the devilish Epsom undulations.
Frankie Dettori had made his bold bid for glory on Architecture at the time Moore was freeing himself from trouble and Minding quickly gave chase, catching up by the furlong pole and pulling away to leave the rest of the field bar Architecture crossing the line at intervals more reminiscent of a Grand National.
"I was down on the fence, unfortunately two horses in front were coming back just as I was getting going, I got pinned on the rail," said Moore.
"She has done well getting herself out of trouble. She was much the best. Not many win a Guineas and an Oaks, it shows how tough it is to do. If the ground hadn't been so bad at the Curragh, she'd have won two Guineas."
O'Brien was winning the race for a sixth time, one more than his current Derby haul. He described Minding as "incredible".
"She has speed, class, stamina, a great mind - everything. Ryan did brilliant to win on her after what she went through. Real heart, courage and guts had to come into it. She's won at six furlongs, seven, a mile, up to mile and a half, it's a very unusual filly to do that. She puts her heart into it so we'll give her an easy time now, I'd have thought, and then pick a target."
Minding had been so superior at Newmarket there was speculation she could even take part in today's Derby, although part-owner Michael Tabor explained this was never a very serious possibility.
"I'm a purist," he said. "I like to see colts against colts, fillies against fillies." Tabor did concede she could take her chance against the opposite sex after a break.
"If she's in good form, why shouldn't she run in the Arc?" he said.
O'Brien's victory means he is now one Classic ahead of Hugo Palmer this season, but the rising star of the training ranks had nearly pulled off another masterstroke with Architecture, which looked an unlikely stayer on paper.
"There were several moments when I thought we'd won, but my God the winner is good," he said. "The Irish Oaks could be a strong possibility."
Elsewhere yesterday, there were three consecutive successes for syndicate horses, highlighted by Kennet Valley stalwart Tullius justifying 5/2 favouritism in the Diomed Stakes by the narrowest of margins.
Richard Fahey, on the mark with Imshivalla at Epsom, was forgiven for having half-an-eye on events at Catterick, where Queen Kindly had taken Frankel's record as a stallion to an impressive two winners from three runners. "There was a bit of pressure," he said of the first Frankel filly to hit the track. "She'd be good enough to go to Royal Ascot, but we'll see."