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HRN Original Blog:
Across the Pond

Talent Sweeps to Victory in the Epsom Oaks

Talent 615 X 400
Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
A clear display of superiority and utmost Talent; Epsom Downs was treated to a sublime display of perfection by jockey Richard Hughes as his mount powered clear in the final stages for victory in the Epsom Oaks.

With Miss You Too and Say setting a comfortable early pace, Ralph Beckett's second-favourite, Secret Gesture, settled behind the leaders on the rail for the majority of the race with Jim Crowley seemingly unable to take any other decision on position due to the draw.

However, as the leaders began to drop anchor, Crowley sauntered to the head of affairs on Secret Gesture with any amount of horse underneath him. Part-purchased by the Qatari operation of Sheikh Farhad al Thani on Tuesday and racing in those silks for the first time, Secret Gesture took two lengths out of the field as her main rivals began to toil behind her, with many struggling to find gaps at the right time.

Settled in rear for the early part of the race, Hughes had sat confident as his charge handled each and every contour of the Epsom Downs. With a trademark ride delivered late by the Irish born jockey, Hughes weaved between runners and set dead aim on his stablemate with a furlong to go, thrusting towards the head of affairs on the wide outside of the pack.

As Talent was let loose by the Champion Jockey, the writing was seemingly on the wall. Talent was making up ground rapidly and handling each and every area of the camber inside the final furlong, eventually pulling away for a facile three and three-quarter lengths success. Secret Gesture would finish second with Michael Bell's The Lark, inexperienced but strongly related to Sariska, filling third place.
 

 
For Aidan O' Brien and his son Joseph it was a case of what might have been. Confident looking in the saddle, it had momentarily seemed that it was a case of Moth pulling away as and when O' Brien was able to find a gap for her to power through. O' Brien didn't find that gap until all too late.

Liber Nauticus too would throw down a considerable challenge for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore, but the filly seemingly lacked any real finishing effort inside the final furlong, eventually fading to fifth.

For Hughes, it was a second Classic victory of the month after an earlier victory aboard Sky Lantern in the English 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Prior to the English 1,000 Guineas, Hughes had waited, waited and waited some more for that elusive Classic victory, but despite the plethora of attempts at victory aboard some highly-promising equine partners, Classic victory just could not be achieved. Now, Hughes can celebrate a duo of Classic victories with the prospect of many more to come.

Ralph Beckett could hardly believe his luck. Not only had he trained Talent to yet another victory for his yard in The Oaks, Secret Gesture finishing second ensured the stable would go home with £330,000 in prize money. 

Secret Gesture was dealt the hammer blow of being drawn in stall one for the Classic, a draw which connections believed had did her more harm than good in this contest, but Beckett was clear in his view that Talent was much the best horse today, confident that his other runner would still become a Group 1 winner in the very near future.

"I genuinely feel for Jim [Crowley]" said Beckett, who was winning the Oaks for the second time, "I knew it would be hard from box one as the last filly to win from there was Bireme in 1980, Talent's third dam."

"Richard got the breaks and Jim rode the race we planned, but he spent more time trying to get room than getting her settled, he wasn't able to get off the fence. I never thought I'd win one Oaks, two is extraordinary but get the one-two is unbelievable."

The duo of Beckett fillies now take dead aim on the Irish Oaks in July.

"I went over on Tuesday morning and I don't think I have ever been as disappointed getting off of a horse" said Hughes, "Ralph gave me a free hand about what to do and I thought I'd drop her in as she's too small to be in a barging match.".

 

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Great finish and great odds ... can't wait for tomorrow!

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Meet Dan Munn

Dan Munn is the Chief International Correspondent for Horse Racing Nation, covering the premier races from Europe as well as introducing and updating our readers on the very best of African, Asian and Australasian thoroughbred competition.

Based in England, Dan became a regular contributor to Horse Racing Nation in 2012 and continues to bring us the most up to date news from Europe with some exclusive interviews and answers to the questions we all want to ask along the way.