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Talent breaks Secret in Oaks

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Talent ridden by jockey Richard Hughes (right) comes home to win the Investec Oaks ahead of Secret gesture ridden by Jim Crowley during The Investec Ladies Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 31, 2013. See PA Story RACING Epsom. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Talent ridden by jockey Richard Hughes (right) comes home to win the Investec Oaks ahead of Secret gesture ridden by Jim Crowley during The Investec Ladies Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 31, 2013. See PA Story RACING Epsom. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Talent ridden by jockey Richard Hughes (right) comes home to win the Investec Oaks ahead of Secret gesture ridden by Jim Crowley during The Investec Ladies Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday May 31, 2013. See PA Story RACING Epsom. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Ralph Beckett believed he was heading to Epsom with a legitimate Oaks winner in Secret Gesture, but she was undone by a filly from her own stable as Talent came with an unstoppable finish.

It was to be a memorable one-two for Beckett's Hampshire yard exactly five years after his maiden Classic in the same race arrived via Look Here, and an even shorter wait for Richard Hughes.

The champion jockey had finally ended his drought at this level less than four weeks earlier in the 1000 Guineas and although he had felt hugely deflated when trying Talent out for the first time on the gallops, the 20/1 shot was an entirely different proposition once she appeared on the racecourse.

Despite Qatar Racing's late investment in Secret Gesture (3/1), who shot to the head of the betting after a 10-length victory in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, Jim Crowley was assured of keeping the ride and he was hardly likely to desert her in favour of Talent, a far less impressive Newmarket winner.

Unfortunately for Crowley, he was imprisoned in stall one along the rail and had to chivvy his mount along to get an early position and then force his way into some space.

Hughes had decided to be more patient, remaining toward the rear snaking around Tattenham Corner, and he only truly unleashed Talent inside the final couple of furlongs.

The response was startling and she left the rest standing, emerging three and three-quarter lengths ahead at the line with the well-backed The Lark third and 5/2 favourite Moth in fourth.

 

LAUGHING

"I went over on Tuesday morning and I don't think I have ever been as disappointed getting off a horse," said Hughes. "Ralph was laughing at me, but she was very, very unimpressive.

"It was only over five and a half furlongs, which isn't her trip, but you usually get some sort of feel off them. Ralph gave me a free hand about what to do, and I thought I'd drop her in as she's too small to be in a barging match."

Referring to following up Sky Lantern's Guineas triumph so quickly, the 40-year-old said: "I know what it's like not to win one, going there thinking you've got a great chance and then getting a kick in the teeth."

A stunned Beckett said: "I never thought I'd win one. Two is extraordinary and to get a one-two, I can't explain it. I genuinely feel for Jim. He had the choice, but how could he have picked the winner?

"I knew it would be hard from box one, as the last to win from there was Bireme (in 1980), who is actually Talent's third dam would you believe it!

"Richard got the breaks and Jim rode the race we planned, but he spent more time trying to get room than getting her settled, he wasn't able to get off the fence. I'm not saying it has made any difference to the result, and they are two very high-class fillies. I'm in no doubt Secret Gesture will be a Group One winner in the future, and I hope they both go on. They will probably both have to go to the Irish Oaks."

 

IMPROVE

Talent was bred by Ashbrittle Stud, whose owner James Rowsell shares the filly with Mark Dixon.

Crowley took the defeat on the chin, and said: "I had to ride her like that because of the draw. She has come there to win her race but we always knew the other horse would improve."

Trainer Michael Bell said of The Lark: "She has been lightly raced and is improving all the time. She is not in the Irish Oaks but could be supplemented."

Sixth-placed Miss You Too was late to the start and jockey Ian Mongan was found guilty of improper conduct to an official, receiving a four-day ban.

Earlier, jockey Frankie Dettori came home last at Epsom in his first ride since having a six-month doping ban lifted. Dettori, 42, was on board Beatrice Auroren for trainer Ed Dunlop, but he was well beaten in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes behind Thistle Bird.


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