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Aidan O'Brien lands seventh fillies' Classic with maiden Forever Together

Donnacha O'Brien and Forever Together triumph in the Oaks
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Aidan O'Brien is not just a prolific trainer of Classic-winning horses, he is producing multiple Classic-winning riders too, as he combined his 31st victory in a British Classic with a second in four weeks for his 19-year-old son Donnacha – and this time he was on hand to share in the celebrations.

The proud father was at the Kentucky Derby when Donnacha landed the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saxon Warrior but, at Epsom on Friday, he had a ringside view when his grateful son guided Forever Together down a golden highway along the stands' rail to seal an emphatic triumph in the Investec Oaks.

Forever Together, the only runner without a win to her name coming into the race, sealed a seventh Oaks victory for the trainer when becoming the first maiden to land the Classic since Sun Princess in 1983.

Joseph O'Brien, the trainer's eldest son and now a successful trainer in his own right, won the Derby twice as a jockey but never the Oaks.

"It's been absolutely incredible," said the winning rider. "Since I was a kid, this was what it was about – all I wanted.

"I have some very good people around me giving me opportunities. I didn't expect to be here but, when you're riding for Dad, you always have a chance. It's paid off twice this year already."

Aidan O'Brien's Oaks winners

Year | Horse | Jockey | SP

2018 Forever Together Donnacha O’Brien 7-1
2016 Minding Ryan Moore 10-11f
2015 Qualify Colm O’Donoghue 50-1
2012 Was Seamie Heffernan 20-1
2006 Alexandrova Kieren Fallon 9-4f
2001 Imagine Mick Kinane 3-1f
1998 Shahtoush Mick Kinane 12-1

With the ground riding on the soft side, getting to the highest part of the course in the straight to exploit the fastest strip of grass was key in nearly every race.

Everyone sought it, including Ryan Moore on Magic Wand, who was being followed by Forever Together. But with Forever Together travelling better as they angled for the same run, Moore checked his mount to avoid contact, and O'Brien seized his chance.

Forever Together, in the Michael Tabor silks, powered forward, collared favourite Wild Illusion with over a furlong to run, and crossed the line four and a half lengths clear of the Godolphin filly.

O'Brien horses filled the next three places as the pacemaking Bye Bye Baby held on for third, with Magic Wand fourth and Flattering fifth.

Wild Illusion (William Buick) has no answer as Forever Together surges clear

It was the first time the Oaks field had come over to the stands' side since Kazzia led all the way in 2002.

"She was very impressive," said the winning rider. "I got a beautiful trip and followed Ryan, who edged over and gave me a bit of company to the rail. I got on the rail and she's very genuine and galloped to the line. She's a proper staying filly.

"I should've been a lot closer on her at Chester, but just got into a bit of trouble. I thought a week ago she had a really good chance and when the rain came I was a bit worried, but she handled it well.

"I didn't expect her to do that though. I had a perfect position and it played out perfectly."

He continued: "When you're riding one of Dad's you have a chance. He's an absolute genius and is able to do things with these horses I don't understand.

"He tweaks little things and brings out massive improvement. I don't know how he does it, but I'm trying to learn as much as I can."

Aidan and Donnacha O'Brien celebrate victory in the Oaks

Forever Together had finished second to Magic Wand in the Cheshire Oaks, making up late ground to finish three and a half lengths behind, but this time the gap was 11 lengths in her favour.

"We weren't sure about the ground – who would act on it and who wouldn't," said the trainer. "Donnacha rides her in all her work and he was very happy with her after Chester.

"She was still a maiden until today, but the ground was so bad [in Ireland this spring] we couldn't stand it, so we skipped the maidens and she ran a lovely race at Chester.

"I think we'll go to the Irish Oaks now. We'll have to see what the lads want to do, but you'd be thinking she'd love the Curragh. We're very happy with all the fillies really."

O'Brien snr added: "We're delighted and so grateful to a lot of people that we're in this position, and we don't take that for granted for one minute.

"Donnacha is a very good rider – he's very cool and confident. He's been watching races since the day his eyes opened so tactically he's very aware, and very confident to make his own decisions and stand by them."

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He's an absolute genius and is able to do things with these horses I don't understand
E.W. Terms
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