Saturday 19 January 2019

Forever Together in 'special' success for O'Briens

Donnacha O’Brien with his father Aidan after partnering Forever Together to victory in the Oaks at Epsom. Photo: PA
Donnacha O’Brien with his father Aidan after partnering Forever Together to victory in the Oaks at Epsom. Photo: PA

Marcus Armytage

When Donnacha O'Brien won his first Classic, the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saxon Warrior last month, his father Aidan was in America for the Kentucky Derby, but he was very much at Epsom yesterday when his son guided Forever Together - the only maiden in the field - to a clear-cut victory in the 240th Investec Oaks.

Despite getting into trouble in the Cheshire Oaks behind stablemate Magic Wand, Ryan Moore's pick yesterday, it was hard to see her reversing the form.

However, she sailed past her stable companion three furlongs out before passing Godolphin's 5/2 favourite Wild Illusion two out and striding home four lengths clear. Bye Bye Baby was third and Magic Wand finished an ordinary fourth.

This was Aidan O'Brien's 31st British Classic success and his seventh Oaks.

"We weren't sure who would act on the ground, but it all went to plan," he said. "She's a lovely genuine Galileo filly. She got in a lovely position and rhythm and galloped out well for him (Donnacha).

"She was still a maiden but the ground was so bad at home in the spring we decided to skip the maidens with her.

"Ryan couldn't really get off his filly and Together Forever was the filly Donnacha wanted to ride after that. He rides her in all her work.

"He's only 19, but tactically he is very confident. He's been watching races since his eyes opened, he knows it inside out, and is confident to make his own decisions. In that respect it's a massive day."

The jockey said he thought he had a big chance on quick ground but was not sure when the going went soft.

"I thought she should have finished closer at Chester. But Ryan's filly wasn't doing a lot in front that day. It's incredible. I didn't expect to be here at the start of the season but riding for Dad you've always got a chance. It's very special - since I was a kid winning Classics is what it's all about."

Before yesterday's Coronation Cup there were officially 20lb between Cracksman, the 'best horse in the world,' and Salouen.


However, Salouen gave hope to anyone opposing Saxon Warrior today by so nearly producing the shock of the year, with the 33/1 shot being caught only in the last 50 yards by Frankie Dettori on the well-backed 2/7 favourite.

It may have looked a well-timed ride by Dettori to win by a head, but the jockey was sending out distress signals from halfway and Cracksman only really started running when he got to the stands rails in the last furlong after Silvestere De Sousa and Salouen had appeared to slip the field.

"He was uncomfortable on the track and in trouble downhill," said trainer John Gosden.

"He got in a muddle and was never really happy on the ground or the track. It wasn't good for the blood pressure.

"It wasn't the horse we know but he had the guts to get up and win. It was a lot more exciting than people expected with an odds-on shot!"

De Sousa again adopted front-running tactics on Lake Volta in the Surrey Stakes and this time they paid off.

Mark Johnston's hard-working charge, who was making his sixth appearance of 2018 and turning out just four days after finishing fifth in a Windsor handicap, is a willing partner and, with de Sousa gradually upping the gallop in the home straight, he came home clear of Aurum.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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