Epsom Oaks - Friday 31st May 2013 

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Talent Shows the Way in Investec Oaks

1 Talent 20/1
2 Secret Gesture 3/1
3 The Lark 16/1
11 ran Distances: 3¾l, ¾l, hd
TIME 2m 42.00s (slow by 7.20s)

Hampshire trainer Ralph Beckett saddled 20/1 winner Talent plus the 3/1 runner-up Secret Gesture in today’s Investec Oaks.

© Racehorse Photos


The pair were separated by three and three-quarter lengths, with another three-quarters of a lengtack to third-placed The Lark. The 5/2 favourite Moth finished fourth. Talent became a second British Classic winner for champion jockey Richard Hughes just a few weeks after his initial win at the highest level on Sky Lantern in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.

Beckett, who trains Talent for her breeders, James Rowsell’s Ashbrittle Stud in Somerset, and also for joint-owner Mark Dixon, said: “I looked at her when they were at the top of the hill and thought, ‘she can’t win from there’. I stopped watching her, and was just willing Jim [Crowley, who rode Secret Gesture] to get out from his position on the rail because he was going to have horses coming back on top of him.

“One thing I would say is I genuinely feel sorry for Jim. He had the choice of rides, but how could he have picked the winner? He couldn’t pick her on homework. Richard came and sat on her on Friday when she worked on the grass and I knew from his face when he pulled up that he was thinking, ‘Oh, no – this isn’t going to happen’.

“But Richard got the breaks today and that might have made the difference. Jim had to spend a lot of time trying to manoeuvre his filly out rather than getting her into a rhythm – he was forced to do that from his draw in box one.

“I couldn’t say what this means. To do it for the second time in five years [he trained 2008 winner Look Here] is very special.”

James Rowsell said: “I noticed she was pulling for her head early and it seemed quite a rough race, but then Hughesie got her balanced and she just went. For a moment I thought we might get third and then suddenly she was winning. It’s quite amazing, unreal.

Brendan Boyle, who is Rowsell’s manager at Ashbrittle Stud, said of Talent: “She was foaled and broken and has been holidayed at Ashbrittle Stud, so she is 100% Somerset bred. We plan to sell her yearling full sister at Tattersalls’ in October and we have a half-sister by Invincible Spirit in training with John Gosden called Much Promise, so we hope she lives up to her name.

“I’ve worked for the stud for nine years, joining when it was very small and just after it was founded by James Rowsell. [Bloodstock agent] Anthony Stroud recommended we purchase the dam of Talent, Prowess, privately from Barry Hills. This has really put us on the map. We have 26 mares on the place including boarders, amongthem the dam of Harbinger [winner of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes].”



Investec Oaks (Fillies' Group 1)
£426,250 added, 3yo only, 1m 4f 10y, Class 1
11 ran
Going: Good to Soft

Starting Price
Beaten Distance
R M Beckett
R Hughes
9st 0lbs
20 - 1
Secret Gesture
R M Beckett
Jim Crowley
9st 0lbs
3 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
The Lark
M L W Bell
J P Spencer
9st 0lbs
16 - 1
3/4 length
A P O'Brien
J P O'Brien
9st 0lbs
5 - 2
Liber Nauticus
Sir Michael Stoute
R L Moore
9st 0lbs
4 - 1
3 1/2 lengths
Miss You Too
D M Simcock
I Mongan
9st 0lbs
40 - 1
3 3/4 lengths
H Morrison
K Fallon
9st 0lbs
7 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
Gertrude Versed
J H M Gosden
William Buick
9st 0lbs
25 - 1
1 1/2 length
H J L Dunlop
J P Murtagh
9st 0lbs
40 - 1
3/4 length
A P O'Brien
J A Heffernan
9st 0lbs
12 - 1
1 1/4 length
Madame Defarge
M L W Bell
T P Queally
9st 0lbs
16 - 1
9 lengths



A month ago champion jockey Richard Hughes had never won a British Classic but he has two to his name after winning the Investec Oaks aboard Talent, following on from Sky Lantern’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas triumph.

“She’s very talented! It’s absolutely great and I’ve had plenty of practice at not winning these races,” said Hughes. “But it was a bit of a surprise after I rode her at Ralph’s last week. To be honest I’d never been so disappointed after getting off a horse. Admittedly she’d only worked over five and a half furlongs, which isn’t her trip but they usually give you some sort of feeling and I got no feel at all.

“Today she had ear plugs in, which I pulled out at the start and she went down there nice and cool. Ralph didn’t tie me down to instructions and said to do what I wanted.

“I decided to drop her out because she is a bit small to get in a barging match and it was the right thing to do because they were going very quick to the top of the hill.

“I was stuck in by a big filly that (Tom) Queally was on and he let me out which was good of him, because he could have really nailed me. It shows there are some good guys in racing.

“She was very relaxed going to the top of the hill and then came on the bridle again on the descent. I knew I’d win five out. Joseph (O’Brien on Moth) came out at the three pole and I said to him to go first and I’d follow!”

Trainer Ralph Beckett, who also won the 2008 Investec Oaks with Look Here, said: “I’d never thought I’d win one Oaks but to win two is extraordinary, let alone have the first and second. It means everything, I’m not Aidan O’Brien and I’d probably only have two runners in Classics in a year.

“I feel for Jim (Crowley) and I think the last horse to win from stall one, where his mount Secret Gesture was drawn, was Bireme (Talent’s great granddam). How ironic is that?

“This filly showed a lot of speed at two but Secret Gesture’s homework has always been in a different league. I was delighted with her performance and Jim rode the race we planned, he was just not able to get off the fence. I think the two fillies will have to meet again in the Irish Oaks.”

Talent is the fourth successive generation of her family to run in the Investec Oaks. Her dam Prowess was ninth in 2009, her granddam Yawl was 12th in 1993 and her great granddam Bireme won the 1980 race in the colours of the late Dick Hollingsworth, whose nephew Mark Dixon jointly-bred and owns Talent.

“I was here 33 years ago for Bireme and I did have a feeling today and Ralph didn’t put me off,” said Dixon. “Bireme didn’t do much as a mare and Yawl has been pretty useless, she usually aborts her foals. Prowess is really the only one of any use I’ve had.

“I know nothing about horses and I’m only in it to try and keep the family going. I’m not big into it and we’re down to about half a dozen mares now. I have them with James (Rowsell at Ashbrittle Stud) and with Luke Lillingston at Mount Coote Stud in Ireland.

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