Qualify (red): just got the better of Legatissimo, with Lady Of Dubai thirdPICTURE: Getty Images
O'Brien lands fifth Oaks with 50-1 shock Qualify
Report: Epsom, Friday
Investec Oaks (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo fillies
QUALIFY sprung a 50-1 shock in the Oaks, overhauling 1,000 Guineas winner Legatissimo in the final few strides to give Aidan O'Brien a fifth winner in the fillies' Classic.
The race was run at nothing more than a steady gallop and consequently there was major drama two furlongs from home as Jack Naylor first went to her right, and then left, causing all sorts of in-running trouble.
With all of the drama unfolding in front of Qualify, Colm O'Donoghue had a dream run through. The race opened up for him and his game filly galloped all the way to the line to win by a short-head.
The most experienced horse in the race, Qualify was well-beaten in both the English and Irish Guineas but the step up to a 1m4f led to a marked improvement on her previous form as she won the biggest race of her career on her tenth start.
Qualify (red) and Legatissimo came through but there was in-running carnage in behind as Jack Naylor interfered with several othersPICTURE: Getty Images
The turning point
With three furlongs to run a boxed in Ryan Moore tried to force his way out on the 5-2 favourite Legatissimo. As he came between Jack Naylor and Lady Of Dubai the Jessica Harrington-trained filly squeezed him between the pair.
Feeling a filly on her outside, Jack Naylor then compensated by veering left, unbalancing Together Forever who then stumbled into Diamondsandrubies, who in turn inconvenienced early pacesetter Star Of Seville.
Star Of Seville's trainer John Gosden summed it up as he said: "It was unnecessarily rough. Three years ago The Fugue was slammed out of it, and now this filly has been too. It's getting a little bit repetitive, but that's all I'm going to say on the matter."
Qualify reels the favourite in
With Moore out in the clear, he set about winning his race and with a furlong to run looked like continuing his and Coolmore's dominance of the English Classics. Legatissimo was matched at the bottom price of 1.01 on Betfair.
But it was Coolmore's number one trainer who spoiled the daughter of Danehill Dancer's bid to become the first filly since Kazzia in 2002 to complete the Newmarket/Epsom Classic double, with Qualify, who was matched at an in-running high of 320, grinding her down in the final furlong.
O'Brien said: "She was very classy when she won her Group 3 very easily at the Curragh last year. The plan was to start at Newmarket and go to the Curragh. It went a little bit wrong in Newmarket first time out and Joseph (O'Brien) had to look after her.
"Then we went to the Curragh and she ran a very nice race. She was buried in the field and no-one spotted her and no one was talking about her. She ran a really lovely race there and we were really happy with her.
"Colm gave her a masterful ride. We always knew she the ability, she always worked like a high class filly. We were worried the ground wasn't quick enough today because she wants real hard fast ground. But obviously we're delighted."
Qualify's trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "Colm gave her a masterful ride"PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
The Guineas winner may have slipped Qualify if she had been able to get out when Moore wanted but her trainer David Wachman revealed she would be going down in trip rather than staying at a mile and a half.
He said: "She ran very well and no excuses but I'm delighted for Colm O'Donoghue. She'll probably go back to a mile and a quarter. Any of those mile/mile and a quarter races are open to her now."
Luca Cumani's Lady Of Dubai took third at 7-1 and he added: "She ran a very good race. Adam (Kirby) said they kicked a long way out which didn't really suit because he wanted to let her travel to a bit closer but she ran a lovely race. It's debatable whether we go back to a mile and a quarter for the Nassau, or we go to the Irish Oaks."
Aidan O'Brien first won the Oaks in 1998 with Shahtoush. The trainer's other successes came in 2001 with Imagine, 2006 with Alexandrova and with Was in 2012. It was a first British Classic for O'Donoghue, who was beaten a head by Pour Moi in the 2011 Derby when riding Treasure Beach.
The last time a 50-1 shot won the Oaks was in 1991, when Jet Ski Lady was successful for Jim Bolger and Christy Roche. Qualify became the fourth winner in the last five runnings of the Oaks to score at 20-1 or bigger.