Horse & Hound columnist Michael Bell trained the winner of the Investec Oaks at Epsom today when Sariska just touched off Midday in a photo-finish.
Sariska, owned and bred by Lady Bamford, is British-bred, by Cheveley Park Stud’s stallion Pivotal out of the Muhtarram mare Maycocks Bay.
Sariska always raced prominently, and swept into the lead under jockey Jamie Spencer coming round the home turn. The Henry Cecil-trained Midday challenged her all the way to the line after an initial attack by High Heeled was foiled, but Sariska held on by the shortest of margins to deny Cecil a 10th Oaks victory.
It was the trainer’s first winner of the race, and completes his Epsom Classic set — he took the Derby in 2005 with Motivator.
“To bag the Oaks is an amazing feeling. It’s a lonely place out in front, especially for a filly so inexperienced, but the post came in time. She fulfilled all my expectations and we’re so thrilled to have her,” said Bell.
Sariska was the 9-4 favourite for the race, having taken one of the most significant trials, the Musidora Stakes at York, last month. She returned after the race with a cut on her hindleg, so plans for the future are on hold until connections are sure she has recovered.
High Heeled was a surprise in third at 33-1 for veteran trainer Barry Hills, 2 1/2 lengths behind Midday. Second favourite Rainbow View, trained by John Gosden, was fourth. Her run was interrupted by Sariska, who moved across her path, but the subsequent stewards’ inquiry left the places unaltered.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained six-year-old Ask came out top in a thrilling three-way finish to the Investec Coronation Cup. He beat perennial runner-up Youmzain by a nose, with last year’s Oaks heroine Look Here also a nose behind in third.
Ask is yet another Group One winner for 14-times champion sire Sadler’s Wells, who, either directly or through his sons, is responsible for nine out of the 12 runners in tomorrow’s Investec Derby. South Easter, trained by William Haggas, will not run because he has been coughing.
The Derby will be shown live on BBC1 tomorrow (6 June) at 3.45pm.
Stay in touch with all the action from Epsom on Horseandhound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s special report on the Epsom Classics meeting in next Thursday’s magazine