Talent (right) leaves them trailing in her wake as she heads to victoryPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Beckett one-two in Oaks as Talent beats Gesture
Report: Epsom, Friday
Investec Oaks (Group 1) 3yo, fillies, 1m4f
TALENT led home a brilliant one-two for trainer Ralph Beckett as the stable second string came home late and strong to defeat Secret Gesture.
Richard Hughes twisted and turned as he steered the flying filly from last to first, cutting through the field like a blade through butter, and came shooting past Secret Gesture in front of the Epsom crowd.
Hughes, one of racing's most celebrated riders, only ended his long hunt for a British Classic on May 5 when he won the 1,000 Guineas on Sky Lantern. After 25 years searching for a such a prize he has now won two in less than four weeks.
Ralph Beckett won the Oaks in 2008 with Look Here but could hardly supress his shock and elation at training the first two home - and pocketing over £330,000 in prize-money. "It doesn't happen does it!" he said.
"I never expected to win one Oaks so to finish first and second is an extraordinary day."
Many expected Beckett to be in winner's enclosure following the race but with a different horse - the second, Secret Gesture, who was sent off as 3-1 second favourite and was recently purchased by Qatar Racing.
The Lingfield Oaks Trial winner ran a tremendous race and had her rivals well accounted for on the approach to home but neither she nor anyone else had an answer to the electric pace of 20-1 shot Talent.
"She is tough. I wasn't watching her until she she loomed up on the outside. He put her in the race and she started tanking then," said Beckett.
A big late gamble on Moth propelled her up the market to 5-2 favourite and she travelled well for Joseph O'Brien, but he had a nightmare finding open ground to send the filly forward and once clear she couldn't make up the lead Secret Gesture had carved out.
She finished fourth, one place behind the Michael Bell-trained The Lark, a 16-1 chance. "I'm very happy with that as she's very inexperienced," said Bell.
"It all got a bit tight for her but I'm over the moon as there's more to come from her. The Ribblesdale will probably come too soon for her, but she wants it soft so we'll see."
The 4-1 third favourite Liber Nauticus finished fifth. "I'm a bit disappointed by that as she had a lovely position and she just didn't finish," said her trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
"That was the one thing we thought she would do is gallop all the way to the line as she's a strong stayer. We'll have to have a think about what we do now."
The winner, who seemed to relish the 1m4f trip, was made 8-1 favourite for the St Leger by race sponsors Ladbrokes.
She is also by New Approach, like the favourite for Saturday's Investec Derby, Dawn Approach, about whom the crucial debate this last week and more has been: does he have the stamina to see out the trip?