Snowfall was a brilliant 16-length winner of the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom, England, on Friday, giving her trainer Aidan O’Brien a 40th British Classic success and jockey Frankie Dettori his 21st.
The win was a second British Classic this season for the 50-year-old Italian rider, following Mother Earth’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas triumph at Newmarket, England, last month.
Dettori was again winning for conditioner Aidan O’Brien in the colours of Derrick Smith, one of the Coolmore partners.
Snowfall’s 16-length success was the biggest winning margin in the history of the Cazoo Oaks and Aidan O’Brien 9th success in the race. The victorious rider Dettori was blown away by the filly’s performance, exclaiming:
“I’ve won many Classics but not one as easily as that.”
From the five-strong Ballydoyle team it was the Musidora Stakes winner, Snowfall, by Deep Impact out of Best In The World, a full sister to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found, who came out strongest on the Good to Soft ground at Epsom.
A delighted Frankie Dettori said of the victory:
“It was unbelievable. Obviously she made the running in the Musidora. I wanted a better position but they were going way too fast. Everybody was fighting to get in the first three so I let them get on with it.
“Aidan said ‘ride her like a good filly, don’t put it in your head that you have to make the running’. I thought out there I had everything beat. In front they had all gone and I had the luxury to take one set of my goggles down. I thought, ‘don’t be clever, just cut through the middle’, and I did.”
The British-based Italian was highly impressed with Snowfall, who gave him his 21st British Classic winner, equalling the record of Fred Archer.
For trainer Aidan O’Brien, who first won the Cazoo Oaks with Shahtoush in 1998, Snowfall’s win helped him equal the 19th Century conditioner John Scott’s record.
“We’re obviously delighted,” O’Brien said. “We thought Snowfall was a very good filly last year and we were disappointed a few times, and she had a few things happen to her that meant races didn’t work out for her.
“We thought she was a proper Group One filly last year,” today’s winning handler continued. “Usually if they show that kind of class, it will come. She’s been very unlucky – she just got caught in a maiden at The Curragh one day, and the next day she clipped heels in a maiden and Séamus nearly came off her. Incidents happen to her, and we just went gentle away, but we still campaigned her in good races. She ran in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket – those were the kind of races she was running in, but maybe she got stronger over the winter.”
Runner-up Mystery Angel, a daughter of Kodi Bear, was only added to the race six days ago when a supplementary fee of £22,500 was paid. The George Boughey-trained filly made a mockey of her 50/1 odds as she beat Coolmore’s Divinely into third.
Mystery Angel’s handler George Boughey was thrilled with his filly’s run, admitting:
“She’s a superstar and obviously we bumped into a freak. What a fantastic ride from Ben (Curtis), who executed the plan perfectly. We wanted to get to the front and we weren’t very well drawn. It was a big call to supplement and it’s paid off massively.”
Roger Varian’s Save a Forest was fourth, with the morning line favourite Santa Barbara next home in fifth place.
Coral Coronation Cup
In the other Group 1 contest at Epsom Downs on Friday, the Coral Coronation Cup, jockey Martin Dwyer won with the brave Pyledriver for trainer William Muir, the rider’s father-in-law.
For the winning handler Muir (who now trains in partnership with Chris Grassick) it was a first success at the highest level while for the 45-year-old jockey Dwyer, he completes a treble of the three Group 1 races at Epsom, having taken the Oaks aboard Casula Look in 2003 and the Derby on Sir Percy three years later.
Muir, who had previously come close to winning Group 1 races, said:
“I started training in 1990 and I’ve got touched of smidgens in Group 1s. Stepper Point got beat in two Group 1s by a nose, and I think it was a head, and a neck in the King’s Stand. Averti got beat in a photo finish in the Abbaye.”
His now Group 1-winning Pyledriver, a four year old son of Harbour Watch and an 11th place finisher in the 2020 Cazoo Derby, made all the running in the mile and a half race, before bravely denying the challenge of the 7-4 favourite Al Aasy by a neck.
The winning jockey said:
“I love this place, I always have. I’ve had some great times riding here and I’ve been lucky. It’s not an easy place to ride as things can go right and wrong. I’ve watched tons of replays and videos of past races, even last night and this morning to refresh my memory as you can’t take anything for granted, but that makes it special when you win.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained full brothers Japan and Mogul were third and fifth respectively with their handler stating:
“They ran well. The ground just turned for both of them, but they ran well. Japan handles it better than Mogul but neither of them like it really.”
The Cazoo Derby is the feature race at Epsom Downs on Saturday, with twelve horses competing for the Premier Classic over a mile and a half.
Photo: Breandán Ó hUallacháin