Monday 18 December 2017

Was pounces for flawless O'Brien

Nick Robson

Aidan O'Brien maintained his 100pc record in English Classics this season when Was won a rather untidy renewal of the Oaks at Epsom.

The 20/1 chance was ridden positively by Seamie Heffernan in the early stages of the contest, just tracking the early pace set by Nayarra, with stablemate Twirl also well to the fore.

Leading fancy Vow ranged up to make a race of it at the top of the home straight, but Was quickened best against the far rail to take the spoils by a neck.

Hughie Morrison's Shirocco Star ran a stormer to finish second under Daryll Holland, with 11/4 favourite The Fugue coming from a long way back to claim third and Vow fourth.

The master of Ballydoyle has now won three out of three Classics this term after Camelot and Homecoming Queen struck in the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas respectively.

O'Brien was also securing his 200th Group 1 win and his fourth Oaks success, with his last victory in the Epsom Classic arriving with Alexandrova in 2006.

"Seamus gave her a lovely ride; she came on lovely from her first run so we were delighted," said O'Brien. "She's a very good-looking filly with a great pedigree. He's a great fellow, Seamus, a world-class jockey. He knows all these horses inside out and and nobody deserves it more."

Heffernan added: "I had enough horse to take two lengths when I needed it. I was on the bridle and had plenty of petrol -- when you have plenty of petrol you can go where you like."

Even with Kissed having been withdrawn earlier in the day, Was featured among five O'Brien-trained fillies in the race, with 1,000 Guineas third Maybe the most fancied. Was won her only juvenile outing at The Curragh last August, but was beaten into third in last month's Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.

In a race where it proved sensible to be prominent off a slow gallop, Was showed plenty of dash to claim a surprise victory.

The Fugue and William Buick were short of room in the early stages and ended up further back than ideal, but she finished off her race well and arguably goes down as an unlucky loser.

Vow travelled like the winner for a long way and ran a creditable race in fourth, while Maybe was also a long way back for much of the journey in the hands of the trainer's son, Joseph, before staying on for fifth.

O'Brien Jnr and Holland were each handed four-day bans (June 15-18) by the stewards for careless riding.

Was now has the Irish Oaks at the Curragh in July as a possible conditional aim. "There's no doubt she's progressing all the time. It (the Irish Oaks) is possible, but we need to let the boys speak about things during the week," said O'Brien.

Maybe could revert to a mile for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot after the Ballydoyle maestro remarked: "She ran well, she was coming there and coming there, but a mile and a quarter might be as far as she wants."

Earlier, Andrew Balding and Jimmy Fortune received the perfect boost on the eve of Derby Day as Side Glance returned to his best form in the Diomed Stakes. The pair's biggest moment of the meeting is still to come through leading contender Bonfire, while Side Glance might go to Ascot after he emulated his sire Passing Glance, winner of this Group Three event in 2004.

The five-year-old had looked some way below 2011 standards in his initial outings this season, but showed a fine turn of foot to catch favourite Worthadd with a furlong of the mile remaining and to thwart the late challenge of Dance And Dance.

Imperial Monarch, meanwhile, will bid to secure O'Brien his first victory in the French Derby tomorrow.

Unbeaten in two starts and conqueror of Epsom-bound Thought Worthy under an audacious Joseph O'Brien ride in a Sandown trial, the Galileo colt (7/1) faces 19 rivals in the 10-furlong Group One at Chantilly, with the 2,000 Guineas runner-up French Fifteen the current market leader. (©

Irish Independent

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