Sunday 25 February 2018

Bunting rises with battling Oaks victory

Chris McGrath

MOST people have already abandoned the Ladbrokes St Leger to Sea Moon, runaway winner of his trial here on Wednesday. The favourite must still prove his stamina for the extra 572 yards at Doncaster, however, and proceedings yesterday left no doubt that Blue Bunting will be on his case in that regard.

For it was sheer staying power that settled the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in favour of the Godolphin filly, which has won three Group One prizes in four starts this season. In fact, but for an uncharacteristic jockey malfunction, she would probably be going to Town Moor seeking the first fillies' Triple Crown since Oh So Sharp in 1985.

Frankie Dettori had largely atoned for his Epsom aberration by since pulling the Irish Oaks out of the fire, and here Blue Bunting reiterated her supremacy among the Classic fillies -- at this trip, at any rate -- before seeing off an ardent challenge from Vita Nova by three-quarters of a length.

Admittedly, the way Wonder Of Wonders was travelling early in the straight, as her rivals came off the bridle, nourished the suspicion she could yet obtain higher standing among her generation when conditions restore an emphasis on speed. But Wonder Of Wonders could not pick up and was beaten by nearly four lengths in third. Crystal Capella was next, just ahead of Banimpire, which finally looked ready for a break, off the bridle early.

Blue Bunting is 6/1 for the Leger with the sponsors, behind Sea Moon on 6/4, but Simon Crisford indicated that Sheikh Mohammed was keeping options open. "It's not definite she will run, but quite possible," the Godolphin manager said. "I would definitely say she'd stay the trip. The further she went today, the better she was."

Best Terms extended her unbeaten record in the Jaguar Cars Lowther Stakes. Somehow sent off at 11/1 despite her success at Royal Ascot last time out, she exploded from the gate under Richard Hughes. Pressed by Fire Lily, she clearly relished the sixth furlong and went away again to score by two lengths, the pair well clear. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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