Dubai: The opening day’s action of the Derby Festival stayed true to form at the Epsom Racecourse on Friday – a Classic record was set and there were defining wins by a veteran jockey and future star to keep all taste buds satiated.
Here are the highlights of Oaks day, the prelude to Saturday’s 242nd running of the Epsom Derby, Britain racing’s richest and most prestigious race meeting:
Irish-trained Snowfall delivered one of the most scintillating performances ever seen at Epsom racecourse when he annihilated his rivals to win the Group 1 Oaks by a margin of 16 lengths, unquestionably the biggest distance ever in a Classic.
The daughter of Deep Impact sent statisticians scurrying to their record books in search for a horse who had won in more emphatic fashion, but they could fine none.On board the Aidan O’Brien-trained star was Frankie Dettori, a man who is no stranger to rewriting the record books.
However, even Dettori was blow away by Snowfall’s authoritative win. “I don’t think I have ever had a more impressive Classic win,” said the Italian superstar. “It was like (playing) Cowboys and Indians, and I was the Cowboy!
“I had the luxury to take my goggles off five furlongs out, because I couldn’t believe it. She went through like a hot knife through butter.”
Dettori was celebrating a sixth Oaks victory while winning handler Aidan O’Brien picked up his ninth success in the2,400 metre contest which was first run in `779.
Earlier, veteran jockey Martin Dwyer was almost in tears after he rolled back the years to find his A game and win the Group 1 Coronation Cup aboard last year’s Derby disappointment Piledriver.
In a tremendous finish to the 2,000 metre contest, Piledriver led halfway before he was briefly headed by Shadwell’s Al Aasy and Jim Crowley only to find a second wind to battle back and score by a neck.
Al Aasy was bidding to give Shadwell an emotional victory in the prestigious contest following the passing of the stable’s owner and patron, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Ride of the Day
Mark Crehan may have had only the one winner all of last year, his 13th season, but the apprentice showed that with the right kind of horse he’s a different proposition altogether.
Riding off a 5lb claim Crehan is not permitted to use a whip, but he did not need one, instead resorting to his hidden saddle skills to drive Oscula to a thrilling victory in the opening Woodcote EBF Stakes.