It’s been a memorable year on the flat. We have been treated to so many famous duels this campaign, all of which will all write a new chapter in the history books. The British Classics have done their job, in producing future stars. As the season draws to a close, its time to look back on the previous four months.
2000 Guineas - Saxon Warrior
Aiden O'Brien won a ninth 2,000 Guineas as his son Donnacha - in the absence of Ryan Moore, rode Saxon Warrior to victory in the first Classic of the season at Newmarket. O’Brien’s number one jockey on the other hand, was in America riding stable companion Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby. Son of the Japanese raider Deep Impact, Saxon Warrior was one of a number of horses defending his unbeaten record - three wins which included last season’s Racing Post Trophy. Sent off at 3/1 in the market, he returned after a gap of 189 days to cruise to the front from just over a furlong out and strike for Ballydoyle. Roger Teal's 50/1 shot Tip Two Win was just a length and a half back in second with the favourite Masar, owned by Godolphin, back in third. This would be the last time Saxon Warrior competed at what now looks his preferred distance, as he stepped up and challenged for the Derby, Eclipse and Juddmonte International. The sad news broke after finishing second in the Irish Champion that he would be retired following a career-ending injury. O’Brien confirmed after, that he had drawn up plans for the QE2 at Ascot, returning his Guineas winner to a mile, but injury has ruled him out from being seen at a racetrack again.
1000 Guineas - Billesdon Brook
Once again, Ballydoyle held a strong hand in the fillies’ field - with four of the fifteen runners. However, there was one of the biggest upsets in decades, as Richard Hannon's 66/1 chance Billesdon Brook claimed a shock victory on the Rowley Mile. The Pall Mall partners owned filly became the biggest-priced winner in the history of the famous race, which was first run in 1814. Jockey Sean Levey glided through the field to win the race by almost two lengths, with Laurens back in second, and Ryan Moore returning to finish third on the favourite Happily. Billesdon Brook went onto finish fourth in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot to Irish 1000 Guineas winner Alpha Centauri, and fourth in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Epsom Oaks - Forever Together
The Oaks moved the fillies up in distance; from a mile to a mere mile-and-a-half. Once more, Aiden O’Brien looked to dominate a classic field, as he trained five of the nine that went to post. His son Donnacha - who won on Saxon Warrior in the Guineas, doubled his classic wins after he rode Forever Together to a four-length victory over Wild Illusion, in what looked a fairly weak race. Stablemates Bye Bye Baby, Magic Wand and Flattering finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Epsom Derby - Masar
Masar denied odds-on favourite Saxon Warrior to win the Derby at Epsom and give trainer Charlie Appleby his first ever classic success. Aiden O'Brien had five runners in a field of 12 and was seeking a record-equalling seventh Derby.Guineas winner Saxon Warrior was a short 4/5 favourite, but could only finish fourth as 16-1 shot Masar, ridden by William Buick, handled the tough contours at Epsom the best. Dee Ex Bee (20-1) was second, with 6-1 shot and future Juddmonte International and Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, back in third. This is was the last time we saw the Godolphin colt, as injury in preparation for a run at the Coral Eclipse at Sandown meant he was sidelined for the rest of the season.
St Leger - Kew Gardens
The St Leger combined the sexes together over this long, gruelling test of stamina. The market was shaken up 48 hours before the race as John Gosden confirmed that his unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar, who bolted up by ten lengths at York’s Ebor Festival a few weeks ago, would take her place in the oldest classic of the season. However, Kew Gardens trained by the Irish Magician, and master of Ballydoyle - Aiden O’Brien proved just too good when outstaying the Lord Lloyd Webber trained filly in the final furlong. Kew Gardens stablemate Southern France - who finished second to Kew Gardens in the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot, finished third, and Derby second De Ex Bee, finished back in fourth.
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