Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall skates home to take Oaks by record 16 lengths

Irish trainer makes it a record-equalling 40th English Classic at Epsom

Jockey Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Cazoo Oaks on Snowfall at Epsom. Photograph:  Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Jockey Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Cazoo Oaks on Snowfall at Epsom. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

 

Frankie Dettori supplied Aidan O’Brien with a record-equalling 40th English Classic as Snowfall annihilated her Cazoo Epsom Oaks opposition to the tune of 16 lengths on Friday.

The supposed second-string of O’Brien’s five runners thrived on ground so transformed by wet weather that the Oaks field raced up the stands side for only the second time in 27 years.

As Ballydoyle’s 5-2 favourite Santa Barbara struggled in fifth, the Japanese-bred winner put up a spectacular wide-margin performance to put even Shergar’s 10-length Derby rout 40 years previously in the shade.

Snowfall allowed her trainer emulate the 19th century English trainer John Scott on 40 cross-channel Classics with the promise of the favourite Bolshoi Ballet to come in Saturday’s Derby.

It was a second English Classic this season for Dettori on an O’Brien second-string and like the 1,000 Guineas heroine, Mother Earth, Snowfall was involved in the embarrassing case of mistaken identity at Newmarket last year when the wrong jockeys and saddles ended up on the two fillies.

Far from having that as a dubious claim to fame, the daughter of Deep Impact now looks to have the world at her feet and elbowed her older stable companion Love aside to be as low as 5-1 favourite for the Arc in October.

That she was an 11-2 third-favourite on Friday testified to how she was a leading contender but hardly the sort of rare Classic winner that ultimately had veteran observers struggling for comparisons.

Frankie Dettori and Snowfall stretch away from the field on the way to winning the Cazoo Oaks by 16 lengths at Epsom. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Frankie Dettori and Snowfall stretch away from the field on the way to winning the Cazoo Oaks by 16 lengths at Epsom. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Dettori’s first Oaks winner, Balanchine, also came up the stands rail in 1994 but the Italian admitted his sixth winner of the race was his easiest ever Classic winner.

“She went through the field like a hot knife through butter!” beamed Dettori who teams up with John Leeper in Saturday’s Derby.

It was ninth Oaks for O’Brien whose English Classic haul also comprises of 10 wins in the 2,000 Guineas, seven in the 1,000, half a dozen Legers and eight in the Derby.

“We’ve been over the moon with her at home since her impressive victory at York [Musidora Stakes]. We knew she had a lot of class coming here and Frankie gave her a very good ride,” the Irishman said.

“She’s out of a full sister to Found so it’s an unbelievable pedigree by Deep Impact. We really thought she was a proper Group One filly last year and kept disappointing. Little things happened to her in races and things like that.

“You can never be sure but she has a lot of class. When ground turns like that you can sometimes get extreme distances, [but] she looks a very special filly,” O’Brien added.

Earlier the ground was still good enough to keep the Coronation Cup field on the far rail and it was last year’s Derby flop Pyledriver who emerged on top in a grandstand finish with the favourite Al Aasy.

It was a first top-flight success for the training partnership of Willie Muir and Chris Grassick.

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