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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 23 January 2021
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Was takes Oaks to give O'Brien Derby boost

Ballydoyle’s 20/1 shot upset the odds to kick-start what could be a huge weekend for Aidan O’Brien and company.

Image: PA Wire/PA Wire/Press Association Images

AIDAN O’BRIEN, trainer of hot favourite Camelot in the Derby, tuned up for Saturday’s blue riband in perfect style by saddling Was to win Friday’s Oaks.

One of five O’Brien runners in the race, the 20/1 chance stormed up the inside rail under Seamie Heffernan to hold off Shirocco Star (16/1) by a neck.

The Fugue, 11/4 favourite, was half a length back in third.

O’Brien, responsible for almost half the 12-runner field, appeared to hold more solid claims of landing this fillies’ classic with Maybe, third in the English 1,000 Guineas.

But it was the less fancied of his team who stole the show on ladies day on the Epsom Downs, with the daughter of O’Brien’s 2001 Derby winner Galileo hugging the inside rail turning out of Tattenham Corner behind Nayarra.

Up the straight she stuck to her task admirably, hitting the front early as Nayarra dropped away and then boldly fending off Shirocco Star and The Fugue on her outside to notch up Heffernan’s first Oaks and the fourth for O’Brien.

The master Irish trainer, who has now won all three English classics run so far, said: “She’s a seriously well bred filly, and Seamie gave her a lovely ride. He’s a world class jockey and knows our horses inside out.”

Asked by the BBC for an update on Derby hope Camelot he replied cautiously: “So far so good…”

Following this success O’Brien is now as low as 6/4 with one British bookmaker to train the winner of all five English classics.

Heffernan paid tribute to the winner, and reflecting on his choice of sticking to the inside rail on a notoriously difficult cambered track he said: “She came there on the bridle and had plenty of petrol in the tank, when you’ve got enough petrol you can go wherever you like.”

Aside from the winner The Fugue caught the eye, finishing strongly after suffering traffic problems early in the race.

Next up for Was could be next month’s Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

O’Brien said: “There’s no doubt she’s progressing all the time and she’s a filly who we are really looking forward to. It (the Irish Oaks) is possible, but we need to let the boys (the owners) speak about things during the week.”

Fifth-placed Maybe could revert to a mile for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot later in the month.

Her trainer said: “She might even go back (in trip) to the Coronation – she has a miler’s pace.”

© AFP, 2012

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