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Was - epsom 1.06.2012

Was and Seamie Heffernan rattling home to win Friday's Oaks at Epsom

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Was lands Oaks for Classic king O'Brien

Report: Epsom, Friday

Investec Oaks (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo fillies

AIDAN O'BRIEN's domination of this season's British Classics continued on Friday when Was landed the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

The 20-1 winner, ridden handily by Seamie Heffernan, rallied gamely to beat 16-1 shot Shirocco Star by a neck. 11-4 favourite The Fugue was third.

O'Brien, who has already landed the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas this term, was celebrating his 200th Group 1 triumph and his fourth Oaks success, but it was a first major British win for Heffernan.

O'Brien, who saddled five runners in the race, said: "They are all well-bred fillies so anything is possible.

"Was was just ready to start when she started at Naas and ran a lovely race. The boys let her take her chance as she was such a well-bred, good-looking filly and had progressed great in her work."

Paying tribute to Heffernan, O'Brien said: "He gave her a lovely ride. He's a great fella and a world-class jockey - he always has been. He knows the horses inside out and nobody deserves it more."

Heffernan, sporting the purple silks of Was's owner Derrick Smith, added: "I had plenty of horse and had enough horse to take two lengths. When you have plenty of petrol you can go where you like.

"I've been very lucky in these colours and have to thank the owner for having the trust in me and leaving me on the horse."

Smith, who has narrowly been denied Derby success with Fame And Glory and Treasure Beach in recent years, said: "It's a great thrill. We thought she'd run a big race."

Sent to contest the early lead, Was, who cost 1.2 million gns as a yearling, settled behind the front-running Nayarra with 9-2 chance Vow close up as well.

Aidan O'Brien - Newmarket 2011

Aidan O'Brien: fourth Oaks victory

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

As the field began the sprint for home, Shirocco Star and The Fugue made good progress, but neither could reel in the winner, who was giving her sire Galileo his first Oaks victory.

"We have covered ourselves in glory and she has established herself as a top-class staying filly," said Hughie Morrison, who trains Shirocco Star.

"It was a disappointing race in that they didn't go a better pace and maybe if they had gone a bit faster she would have won. However, she is a cracking filly and a credit to herself."

John Gosden was also unhappy with the pace of the race. He said of The Fugue: "I've never been a sore loser but it was a messy race - an unnecessarily messy race. She was knocked back and there was no pace so I don't know how she got as close as she did in the circumstances. She's a very brave filly."

Vow, the Lingfield Oaks Trial winner, was fourth. Trainer William Haggas said: "She ran a lovely race but Johnny [Murtagh] didn't feel that she handled the track. We'll go to Ireland."

Maybe, the O'Brien first string in the betting and on jockey bookings, was fifth. Her jockey Joseph O'Brien, son of Aidan, was given a four-day ban (June 15-18) for careless riding.

That is unlikely to sour things for O'Brien snr, who is 4-6 with Ladbrokes to complete a Classic Grand Slam.

 
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