Dancing Rain sprang a surprise in the Investec Oaks at Epsom today, leading from stalls to post to win at 20-1. Ridden by Johnny Murtagh, the chestnut Danehill Dancer filly held on gamely to resist Wonder Of Wonders and Kieren Fallon. The pair were four lengths clear of the third, Izzi Top.
Frankie Dettori received a 10-day ban for dropping his hands and losing third place on the fourth horse home, 1000 Guineas heroine Blue Bunting.
It was only Dancing Rain’s fourth run — she broke her maiden at Newbury in April and was second in a Listed race at the same track three weeks ago. Owned by brothers Martin and Lee Taylor, she gave both Johnny Murtagh and trainer William Haggas their first Oaks success.
“This is what it is all about,” said an ecstatic Haggas. “It’s just a matter of getting the right horse and on this occasion, the right jockey.
“Last year she was hopeless but she was steadily getting better and she’s still getting better. Johnny was clever, but she stays and we didn’t make enough use of her last time.
“My wife Maureen has always ridden this filly at home but unfortunately they had an accident going out of the stalls three weeks ago and Maureen broke her leg. The filly rewarded her, anyway.”
Coronation Cup for St Nicholas Abbey
The day’s other Group One contest was a thrilling renewal of the Coronation Cup. Henry Cecil’s brilliant filly Midday just failed to hold off St Nicholas Abbey, one-time favourite for last year’s Derby.
After disappointing in the 2000 Guineas, St Nicholas Abbey didn’t appear on a racecourse until this spring. He showed today that he is a top-class middle-distance horse who will give the 2010 Derby hero Workforce a run for his money in the Arc this autumn, all being well.
When St Nicholas Abbey failed to handle the camber of the track round Tattenham Corner, Midday and Tom Queally struck for home. But, happier over 10 furlongs than this mile and a half, the five-times Group One-winning mare couldn’t hold off the year-younger colt’s driving finish.
Carlton House set for the Derby
The Queen’s Carlton House will start favourite for tomorrow’s Investec Derby after seemingly overcoming some swelling in a leg earlier in the week. Although there has been huge interest from the media in The Queen’s first Derby runner since Church Parade in 1981, it was somewhat overshadowed today by the controversy that surrounds jockey Kieren Fallon’s ride in the race.
Fallon has been declared to ride the Aiden O’Brien-trained Recital, but the owner of Native Khan, another Derby runner, went to court on Friday to try to prevent him riding Recital. Ibrahim Araci claimed that Fallon had a previous contract to ride Native Khan. Araci’s bid failed, but he was given leave to appeal, which has yet to be settled, so Fallon’s participation in the Derby is as yet uncertain.