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Blue Bunting - York 18.08.2011

Yorkshire Oaks winner Blue Bunting cut to 6-1 for the St Leger

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch  

Gutsy Blue Bunting adds to Group 1 haul at York

Report: York, Thursday

Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo+ fillies and mares

BLUE BUNTING won athird Group 1 and a first against older horses with a gutsy effort on the Knavesmire to fend off the persistent challenge of the Sir Henry Cecil-trained Vita Nova.

The dual Classic winner was sent off the 11-4 favourite and was subsequently cut into 6-1 second favourite (from 10-1) for more Classic glory in the St Leger, where she would face colts for the first time.

The daughter of Dynaformer was settled towards the rear by Frankie Dettori as Godolphin stablemate Rumh cut out a steady pace in front under William Buick.

Turning for home all the major players fanned out across the track to deliver their challenges with Wonder Of Wonders first to strike, taking things up more than three furlongs out.

Laughing Lashes was the first of the protagonists to wilt, but Blue Bunting was far from travelling best and the Qipco 1,000 Guineas and Darley Irish Oaks winner and Dettori was hard at work. Instead Vita Nova and, momentarily, Banimpire looked the more dangerous.

But Dettori's continued urgings galvanised his mount and as the runners entered the final two furlongs, a straight duel between Blue Bunting and Vita Nova developed.

The Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained filly, who was receiving 10lb from her older rival,was incredibly game as she battled up York's long home straight to see off Vita Nova by three-quarters of a length. Wonder Of Wonders held on for third.

Blue Bunting and Frankie Dettori - Newmarket Guineas Meeting 1.5.11

Blue Bunting: all options open

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

An ebullient Dettori said: "She's so tough and she's in season today and her mind wasn't exactly on the job and it made it really hard work for me. She's never going to be flash and winning by a large distance but she's very hard to get past.

"Being in season didn't help but she's very tough and her form all year has been red hot."

On the possibility of the St Leger, he added: "It's down to Sheikh Mohammed, but she deserves to be there if wanted. She stays the trip very well."

Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said: "It was a fantastic effort, she's super tough. When the second came upsides her, she wasn't having any of it. She keeps winning- different ground, different distances, it doesn't matter.

"I've just spoken to Sheikh Mohammed and he said 'let's keep all the options open'. We'll see how she is in a week or so and while she's not a definite for the St Leger,it's possible. She wasn't stopping and the further they went, the better she went."

Cecil was delighted with runner-up Vita Nova's performance.

"I like winning but I am very pleased with that," he said. "She likes give in the ground and maybe if it had been softer she would have finished closer but take nothing away from the winner.

"She's a very big filly - 17 hands - and I've given her plenty of time. She will probablygo for the fillies and mares' race on Champion Stakes day and she will stay in training next year."

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