Epsom Oaks - Friday 1st June 2012 

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O'Brien Wins Oaks with Was

1 Was 20/1
2 Shirocco Star 16/1
3 The Fugue 11/4F
NR: Kissed (IRE), Toptempo
12 ran Distances: nk, ½l, 1l
TIME 2m 38.68s (slow by 3.68s)

Aidan O'Brien's Was claimed victory in the Investec Oaks at Epsom in the hands of Seamie Heffernan.

© Caroline Norris


The 20-1 chance was ridden positively in the early stages of the mile-and-a-half 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 of all against the far rail to take top honours by a neck from Shirocco Star, with favourite The Fugue coming from a long way back to claim third and Vow fourth.

Was won her only juvenile appearance at the Curragh last August, but was beaten into third in last month's Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.

Heffernan said: "I had enough horse to take two lengths when I needed it. I've been very lucky in these colours and I have the owners to thank for trusting me. I was on the bridle and had plenty of petrol. When you have plenty of petrol you can go where you like."

O'Brien was securing his fourth Oaks success, with his last victory in the Epsom Classic arriving with Alexandrova in 2006. The master of Ballydoyle was also preserving his unbeaten record in British Classics this term after Camelot and Homecoming Queen struck in the 2000 and 1000 Guineas respectively.

The trainer said: "Seamus gave her a lovely ride, she came on lovely from her first run so we were delighted. 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."

Shirocco Star
© Racehorse Photos

Shirocco Star

He added of Maybe, who ran on to take fifth: "She ran well, she was coming there and coming there, but a mile and a quarter might be as far as she wants to go."

Darryll Holland, rider of Shirocco Star, said: "I don't think she was unlucky. The way the race was run it was a bit tactical. The winner had the rail and kept outbattling me towards the end.

Investec Oaks (Fillies' Group 1)
Going: Good (Good to Firm in places)
Starting Price
Beaten Distance
A P O'Brien
J A Heffernan
9st 0lbs
20 - 1
Shirocco Star
H Morrison
D Holland
9st 0lbs
16 - 1
The Fugue
J H M Gosden
William Buick
9st 0lbs
11 - 4
1/2 length
W J Haggas
J P Murtagh
9st 0lbs
9 - 2
1 length
A P O'Brien
J P O'Brien
9st 0lbs
10 - 3
2 lengths
H Morrison
R Havlin
9st 0lbs
18 - 1
2 lengths
M Al Zarooni
M Barzalona
9st 0lbs
6 - 1
A P O'Brien
C O'Donoghue
9st 0lbs
22 - 1
R M Beckett
Jim Crowley
9st 0lbs
20 - 1
2 1/2 lengths
A P O'Brien
R Hughes
9st 0lbs
33 - 1
1 1/2 length
A P O'Brien
P J Smullen
9st 0lbs
25 - 1
3 1/4 lengths
M R Channon
Martin Dwyer
9st 0lbs
50 - 1
1/2 length
A P O'Brien
R L Moore
9st 0lbs
M H Tompkins
T E Durcan
9st 0lbs



Hughie Morrison, trainer of the second Shirocco Star said: “Maybe if they had gone a bit faster she would have won, she is a cracking filly and a credit to herself.

“It is disappointing that they didn’t go a gallop but that’s racing. We have covered ourselves in glory and she’s a top class staying filly, aren’t we lucky to have her. She was much more relaxed today.”

Darryll Holland, Shirocco Star’s jockey, added: “They went very slow for a Classic round here. Normally Aidan (O’Brien) sets something off very quick, but the Channon runner went steady in front. I travelled well down the hill behind Vow and two out I thought it was mine but the horse on the rail (Was) stuck it’s neck out. I could have done with a better pace just to take the sting out of the finish. She ran a great race, she is a very good filly and a Group One winner just waiting to happen.”

John Gosden, who trained third-placed The Fugue, said after the Investec Oaks: “We got badly run into and were lucky not be brought down early in the race. The jockey (Buick) did well to stay in place, it was messy and unnecessarily messy, there was no pace at all early on. She ran a game race and just ran out of ground in the end.”

William Buick said: “We should have won but got trapped.”

Johnny Murtagh, partner of fourth Vow, said: “She ran well and travelled well but I thought she might not have handled the track in the last half a furlong.”

Joseph O’Brien, rider fifth of Maybe, said: “They went very slow and I was along way back.”

Robert Havlin, rider of sixth Coquet, said: “I was travelling well but they went no pace and I ended up on the rail where I didn’t want to be. They started to stretch out and I went for a run on the rail and the door shut on me.”

Richard Hughes, partner of 10th Devotion, said: “I went OK but they went very slow and I was riding her to be placed and when they go so slow it is very hard to do.”

Pat Smullen, rider of 11th Twirl, said: “ My filly found the going a littler bit quick and just didn’t come down the hill with any fluency.”


© Racehorse Photos

Harry Hebert, Managing Director of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, was delighted with Vow’s fourth in the Investec Oaks.

The daughter of 2005 Derby winner Motivator belied her inexperience and just led the field two furlongs from home, but couldn’t maintain that advantage.

Herbert commented: “Vow has run a terrific race and Johnny (Murtagh, jockey) said that the slow pace may not have suited her and she also hasn’t entirely handled the track.

“However, she has run a brilliant race and two furlongs out I thought she was going to win and so did the jockey.

“Hopefully she comes out of the race well and we will be looking at the Irish Oaks - I think the track at the Curragh will suit her a lot better. She is still very lightly raced, so I think there is more to come.”

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