Donnacha O’Brien wins second Classic as Forever Together lands Oaks
Trainer Aidan O’Brien gets perfect eve of Derby boost with seventh Oaks success
Donnacha O’Brien celebrates after winning the Investec Oaks on Forever Together at the Derby Festival at Epsom. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire.
Donnacha O’Brien won his second English Classic of the season when Forever Together picked the perfect time to win the first race of her career in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.
The 7-1 shot gave her 19-year-old rider a perfect follow-up to last month’s 2,000 Guineas triumph on Saxon Warrior by comfortably beating the 5-2 favourite Wild Illusion.
One of Forever Together’s four stable companions in the race, Bye Bye Baby, filled the frame in third and overall it provided Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle team with a perfect Classic boost on the eve of Saturday’s Derby.
It was a seventh Oaks success for O’Brien in the last 20 years but, having missed his son’s Guineas triumph at Newmarket, it was a sweet moment watching first-hand his youngest child win an Epsom Classic.
“Donnacha gave her an unbelievable ride and I’m over the moon,” said O’Brien Snr who was on duty at the Kentucky Derby on Guineas day last month.
The winning jockey emulated his older brother, Joseph, on that occasion but ploughed his own furrow here. Joseph O’Brien twice won the Derby at Epsom but failed to hit the mark in the Oaks.
The youngest O’Brien delivered an assured performance on Forever Together who raced alongside Wild Illusion for much of the race before securing the best position as the field raced to the stands side on the soft ground.
“When you’re riding one of dad’s you have a chance. He’s an absolute genius and is able to do things with these horses I don’t understand,” he said. “I don’t know how he does it but I’m trying to learn as much as I can!”
Earlier Epsom’s unique challenge almost scuppered the 2-7 Coronation Cup favourite Cracksman who only just managed to get the better of the 33-1 outsider Salouen in the final strides.
“He doesn’t like racing down a hill and it wasn’t until he went uphill he was happy and accelerated. He wasn’t comfortable at any stage – until the last 50 yards!” said Cracksman’s trainer John Gosden.