Oh So Sharp: One last huge effort to cap a memorable season
First published on Wednesday, September 7, 2011
There must have been something in the water in Newmarket in the mid-1980s that was conducive to the growth of mighty legends on the turf, and in 1985 three of them combined with an equine fourth to grace the St Leger with their gifts.
Henry Cecil, although not yet a knight, was at the peak of his awesome powers, and although Lester Piggott had vacated the No.1 saddle at Warren Place, another iconic jockey had joined the payroll in the shape of the equally awesome Steve Cauthen, so it hardly seemed fair when the pair teamed up with the unstoppable Sheikh Mohammed and an emerging wonder horse to take the season by the scruff of the neck.
The 'Kentucky Kid' donned the famous maroon and white silks to land an epic 1,000 Guineas on Oh So Sharp and they joined forces again to take the Oaks, but in many ways their effort at Doncaster topped even those achievements.
The dual Classic winner had suffered two defeats in the meantime, in the King George and the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup, and the sprightly sort was plainly battle-weary at the end of a long, hard campaign. Cecil would later admit he was "hanging on to her" by early September, but not for nothing did Cauthen describe her as "the best filly I've ever ridden".
Despite the traditional doubts about the stamina limitations of a middledistance superstar tackling the gruelling 1m6f trip, Oh So Sharp was sent off the 8-11 favourite and ridden handy to the pace set by old adversary Piggott on Lanfranco.
Two furlongs out, Cauthen sent out a bold message to his rivals by squeezing his mount into a lead that she would refuse to relinquish, despite the late challenge of the gritty Phardante.
It wasn't the finest performance of Oh So Sharp's season, but it showed another admirable facet to her brilliance, took Cecil to an unprecedented £1 million in prize-money and, as the clincher in a rare assault on the fillies' Triple Crown, conferred welcome kudos on the Doncaster Classic.
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