Qualify causes huge Oaks shock
50/1 shot, Qualify caused a big surprise to take the Oaks under Colm O’Donoghue, providing trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in the Epsom Classic. The winner had been well beaten in both the Irish and English Guineas this season and was subsequently sent off an unconsidered outsider as she stepped up to a mile and a half for the first time.
In what turned out to be a very messy renewal, Qualify was given a perfect ride by the unassuming O’Donoghue, coming through the field late on to nab the 5/2 favourite, Legatissimo on the line. The runner-up can count herself as very unlucky, as David Wachman’s charge was badly hampered as the race began in earnest under Ryan Moore.
The race became muddling from the very start, as Star Of Seville, who was uncertain to stay the trip, set a very sedate pace under William Buick. John Gosden’s filly began to falter two furlongs out but was also unlucky as she became embroiled in a barging match with Jack Naylor, Together Forever and Diamondsandrubies.
Ryan Moore had struggled to get Legatissimo out from the rail at this point but when the pair found open ground, they tried to put the race to bed with a late flourish and, for a while, it looked like she would follow up her win in the 1000 Guineas. Qualify had watched all the drama unfold in front of her, however and slowly but surely reeled in the leader, getting her head in front with the final stride. Lady Of Dubai stayed on nicely to take third.
Winning trainer O’Brien said: “She was very classy when she won her Group 3 very easily at the Curragh last year. The plan was to start at Newmarket and go to the Curragh. It went a little bit wrong in Newmarket first time out and Joseph had to look after her.
“Then we went to the Curragh and she ran a very nice race. She was buried in the field and no-one spotted her and no one was talking about her. She ran a really lovely race there and we were really happy with her.
“Colm gave her a masterful ride. We always knew she the ability, she always worked like a high class filly. We were worried the ground wasn’t quick enough today because she wants real hard fast ground. But obviously we’re delighted.”
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