Vodafone Oaks - 4th June 2006

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Fallon Cannot Believe Alexandrova’s Oaks Performance

vodafone DerbyAidan O’Brien saddled his third winner of the Vodafone Oaks when Alexandrova proved six lengths superior to her rivals and the Ballydoyle handler admitted that he had been hopeful going into today’s race.

“We weren’t that disappointed or worried when she finished second in the Musidora at York first time out,” said O’Brien. “She nearly got knocked down after 50 yards and was then labouring a bit. Kieren was very happy with her after that race and said she’d improve a ton.

“She went to York as a trial, that was the main purpose, to get her ready for today. Kieren was very confident about today after that.

“Any filly that wins the Oaks is very special and we’ll have to sit down and talk but I’d imagine we’d go for something like the Irish Oaks. But she has a lot of speed as well and doesn’t have to run over a mile and a half.”

Kieren Fallon, winning his fourth Vodafone Oaks, had predicted that he would be back in the winner’s enclosure after his victory in the first.

He said: “I couldn’t believe her performance. They didn’t go very quick and when that happens they can quicken from the front and leave you behind.

“She got there earlier than I wanted but I could not help it. She took me there and galloped all the way to the line. She gave me a really, really good feel.

“I said after York that Aidan’s usually go forward and this filly has. But I did not think she would improve that much.

“She did not travel for me at York after she got that bad bump. She went down to the start sweetly today and made it easy for me in the race. Super.”


4.05pm VODAFONE OAKS (Group 1)
vodafone Derby£441,400 guaranteed (Class 1), Group One, Epsom Downs, 1m 4f 10 yds. Weights: 9st. Entries closed March 1, 2006 (84 entries), forfeit stage May 19, 2006 (26 remain - four officially withdrawn subsequently), £20,000 supplementary entry stage May 27, 2006 (four added), five-day confirmation stage noon, May 27, 2006 (16 go forward), final declaration stage 10am May 31, 2006, Confirmed 16 pay £1200 Penalty value 1st: £250,626.92; 2nd: £94,989.28; 3rd: £47,538.78; 4th: £23,703.18; 5th: £11,873.66; 6th: £5,958.90

(Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O'Brien IRE 3-9-00 Kieren Fallon (5) 9/4f

(Heading For The Rocks Partnership) John Best 3-9-00 George Baker (3) 33/1

(John Greetham) Sir Michael Stoute 3-9-00 Michael Kinane (10) 9/2

(Michael Sly,Dr Tom Davies & Pam Sly) Pam Sly 3-9-00 Micky Fenton (4) 5/1
(The Hornets) Rae Guest 3-9-00 Alan Munro (6)
(Robert Barnett) John Dunlop 3-9-00 Frankie Dettori (9)
(Jackie & George Smith) Mick Channon 3-9-00 Tony Culhane (7)
(William Harrison-Allan) Mick Channon 3-9-00 Ted Durcan (11)
(Mark Dixon) Barry Hills 3-9-00 Michael Hills (2)
(H H Aga Khan) Sir Michael Stoute 3-9-00 Christophe Soumillon (8)

10 ran
Non-runner: 2 Galatee (vet’s certificate)
Distances: 6, 1 1/4, 1/2, 2, 1 1/4, nk, 1 1/2, 1 1/4, 5
Time: 2m 37.71s
Breeder: Quay Bloodstock
Breeding: b f Sadler’s Wells (USA) - Shouk
Tote: Win; £3.30 Places; £1.40; £6.70; £1.90 Exacta; £112.80


John Magnier was a winner on more fronts than one as Alexandrova romped to victory in today’s Vodafone Oaks.

Magnier is head of Coolmore Stud, which has bases around the world, including at its headquarters in Ireland, home to its most famous stallion, the 14-time champion Sadler’s Wells. It was no coincidence that Sadler’s Wells sired Alexandrova, since many of Magnier’s best winners have been produced by his star stallion.

Alexandrova carried the colours of Magnier’s wife Sue, plus Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor. Magnier said: “We go round looking at horses and this filly came from a very good farm near us in Cashel. She’s by Sadler’s Wells out of a mare by Shirley Heights and Adrian Nicoll bought her for us at the Newmarket Sales for 420,000gns - that’s a very good price now.

“They [trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Kieren Fallon] said all the way through last year that she could be an Oaks winner and Aidan raced her sparingly. We could all see how good she was when she ran at Newmarket last year [beaten a head by Nannina in the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile]. That’s when it became clear.”

Sadler’s Wbells lost his sires’ title to the late Danehill (also owned by Magnier) last year, and Magnier was asked how important it would be if the old champion regained his title. Magnier said: “I don’t think that really matters in his case, because everyone knows he’s the best there’s ever been and we’re not going to see his like again.

“At this stage of his career the mares he’s covering are not so good and his fertility is dropping etc so he doesn’t have the same chances as some of the younger horses. But he’s still the best for me. He just finds it harder to get up in the morning.”


John Magnier, husband of one of the co-owners of Alexandrova, said:” Kieren said he tried to hold up her up but just had to let her go. She was good today I have to say.

“Today was Alexandrova’s day. Pam Sly had her day in Newmarket - that’s racing.”

Speaking from the winner’s enclosure, he added: “This is the bit of ground where we all want to be. There is a fantastic buzz about Epsom - when we drive up at the top of the hill - that’s it.

“Alexandrova has done what she was bred to do. She was bred to win the Oaks and she has won it so we will be careful with her.

“The five of them (in tomorrow’s Vodafone Derby) have qualified to be there - they might as well take their chance because anything can happen. It is only fair on the breeders, the mothers and the stallions to run them.

“We would be biased because of the last crop of Danehill but we would be happy with anything. Horatio Nelson had an interrupted preparation between the Guineas and here.

“Kieren wasn’t going to ride him (in the Vodafone Derby) and then he rode the colt in a piece of work the other morning and is now coming.

“Whether it will be this run tomorrow or the next run that is the question.”

Kieren Fallon hopes to make it a Classic double at Epsom tomorrow when he partners Horatio Nelson in the Vodafone Derby.

He said: "When you win the Vodafone Oaks your confidence is flowing and hopefully it can flow through to Horatio Nelson tomorrow. It's all about confidence from a rider's point of view. Anything can happen and if it doesn't you make it happen."

George Baker, who rode the second Rising Cross, commented: “She did well to hang on for second. I thought for a split second that it could be a dream come true.

“She stumbled quite badly and lost her footing for a stride or two - it did not feel great as she definitely lost quite a bit of momentum but she is tough little thing and stayed on again.

“Early on I got shuffled back a bit further than I wanted to but, rather than panic, I kept her nice and balanced and took my time.”


Trainer John Best and part-owner Dave Nevison were understandably over the moon with the effort of 33/1 shot Rising Cross, the six-length runner-up to Alexandrova in the Vodafone Oaks. The Cape Cross filly was a supplementary entry, having been added to the field at a cost of £20,000 last Saturday.

Best said: “That was simply a great run from her, she stumbled approaching the final furlong but has still run on well - she’s just so tough.

“I don’t know where she will run now - the next place for her is likely to be the sales ring!

“Seriously, she has always been for sale from day one - it’s just that her price just keeps going up every time she runs a good race.

“She will certainly make some broodmare now.”

Part owner Dave Nevison, the professional gambler and journalist, added: “I thought she was going to lose several positions when she stumbled.

“Every single time she’s run, she’s run better - she’s just incredible.

“I had a little bit each-way on her and also did some speculating on finishing positions on the spreads.”

Another pleased trainer was Pam Sly, who saddled Stan James 1000 Guineas winner Speciosa, another supplementary entry, to finish fourth.

The Fenland handler said: “That was fabulous and I’m thrilled.

“I thought she would be in the first four. She stayed a mile and a quarter OK, and it is the last two furlongs that have caught her out.

“I’m glad we came here rather than going for the Irish 1000 Guineas - the ground was bottomless there and wouldn’t have suited her. We have certainly justified the decision to supplement her.

“I don’t know where we will go with now. She is still in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and I will also consider the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket for her - we will just take her home and she how she is.”

“I’m not disappointed with her at all today - we’ve lost nothing in coming here.

“She will be back.”


3 b f Sadler’s Wells (USA) - Shouk (Shirley Height)

Owner: Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith Breeder: Quay Bloodstock

Form: 6312-21 Trainer: Aidan O’Brien IRE Jockey: Kieren Fallon

Alexandrova cost connections 420,00 guineas as yearling at Tattersalls in October, 2004, her price reflecting the fact she is a half-sister to the 2004 Group One Cheveley Park Stakes Magical Romance. She was pitched in at the deep end when making her racecourse debut in the Listed Balanchine Stakes over seven furlongs at the Curragh in June, when she finished a staying -on sixth.. Next time she headed to Glorious Goodwood in July and was slightly disappointing when third in a seven-furlong maiden. She soon made amends however, when scoring by a facile 10 lengths in a mile maiden at Tralee in August. The 2005 campaign ended with a fine second in Group One company, when Alexandrova was the short-head runner-up to Nannina in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in September. Prominent in the ante-post lists over the winter for the Vodafone Oaks, she made her seasonal reappearance in the Group Three Musidora Stakes at York last month, when she was second, beaten a length and a quarter by Short Skirt. Today she won the Vodafone Oaks easily. Race Record: Starts: 6 1st: 2; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 1 Win & Place Prize Money: £310,550

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