Forever Together's superb four and a half length victory in the Investec Oaks was a seventh in the fillies' mile and a half Classic for trainer Aidan O'Brien. Ridden by O'Brien's son Donnacha, who won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket aboard Investec Derby favourite Saxon Warrior last month, Forever Together was sent off at odds of 7/1. Wild Illusion, the 5/2 favourite, finished second.
Aidan O'Brien first won the £500,000 Group One with Shahtoush in 1998. Since then, Imagine (2001), Alexandrova (2006), Was (2012), Qualify (2015) and Minding (2016) have been added to the roll of honour.
Forever Together is a daughter of Galileo out of the Theatrical mare Green Room, also dam of Group One winner Lord Shanakill. She is the first maiden to win the Investec Oaks since Sun Princess in 1983.
O'Brien said: ” This is incredible. I am so delighted for everyone; Padraig who looks after her, Emmet who rides her, then John [Magnier], Michael [Tabor], Derrick [Smith], Sue, Gay and Doreen. It is brilliant for everyone.
“Forever Together is a staying filly who gets the trip very well and is obviously by Galileo, which is a massive advantage.
“Donnacha gave her an unbelievable ride. I am over the moon.
“It went according enough to plan. We weren't sure about the ground – who would act on it and who wouldn't. Donnacha rides her in all her work and he was very happy with her after Chester [she finished second in the Cheshire Oaks]. She was still a maiden until today, but the ground was so bad [in Ireland this spring] we couldn't stand it, so we skipped the maidens and she ran a lovely race at Chester.
“I think we will go to the Irish Oaks now. Obviously we will have to see what the lads want to do, but you'd be thinking she'd love the Curragh. We're very happy with all the fillies, really.
“We're delighted and so grateful to a lot of people that we are in this position and we don't take that for granted for one minute. Donnacha is a very good rider – he's very cool and confident. He's been watching races since the day his eyes opened so tactically he's very aware, and very confident to make his own decisions and stand by them.”
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Forever Together (7/1) stayed on strongly to land the Group One Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs this afternoon.
The result was a red letter day for the O'Brien family as Aidan's son, Donnacha, was on board the three-year-old filly in the premier fillies' Classic and the pair galloped away on the stands' side rail to record a four-and-a-half-length victory from the 5/2 favourite, Wild Illusion.
The 19-year-old was celebrating his second British Classic success, following his victory on Saxon Warrior in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and was visibly delighted following the race.
“Forever Together was very impressive,” said the jockey.
“I got a beautiful trip through the race following Ryan (on board stablemate Magic Wand). He edged over and kept me company over to rail. It played out perfectly and the rail seems to be the place to be. She is very genuine and galloped out to the line really well. She is a proper staying filly.
“I should have been a lot closer at Chester but got into a bit of trouble. I thought a week or two ago that she had a really good chance, then the rain came and I was a bit worried. She seemed to handle it really well, but I was not expecting her to do that.
“When you are riding one of his (father Aidan's horses), you have a chance. It does not matter what it is. He is an absolute genius and is able to do things with these horses that I don't understand. He just tweaks little things and brings out massive improvement. I don't know how he does it but am trying to learn as much as I can.
“It's fantastic. She's a real tough filly and relaxes beautifully in her races. I got a nice run down the rail and she stayed on really strongly. I knew my filly would stay well and knew if I had a chance two out that I'd be bang there as she'd hit the line well.
“I saw Magic Wand at the two pole but, when she dropped away, I knew it was my race. You then just hope there's nothing else coming up and it's a relief when you hit the line.
“It's nice to get the Oaks win today and hopefully we can double up in the Derby tomorrow.”
Donnacha partners Kew Gardens, trained by his father, in the £1.5-million Investec Derby, Britain's premier Classic and richest race.
Godolphin's Wild Illusion (5/2 favourite) was a creditable second to the impressive Forever Together (7/1) in the fillies' Classic, the £500,000 G1 Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs.
Trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, the three-year-old daughter of Dubawi travelled well into contention in the home straight but could not match the finishing kick of the impressive winner, trained by Aidan O'Brien and partnered by his son Donnacha O'Brien in the mile and a half contest, who won by four and a half lengths.
Appleby said: “Wild Illusion ran really well. She has just been outstayed I think. She has run a very solid race there.
“We thought stamina would be her real forte and when William made his move, I thought we were going to go through and win it, but Forever Together was on the rail and as we've already seen this afternoon, it is a little bit of an advantage.
“She didn't look that comfortable coming down the hill but she came there to win her race and we got beaten by a better horse on the day.
“We didn't lose too much in defeat, we just met one on the day who was a superior stayer.
“Wild Illusion has lost nothing in defeat and lives to fight another day.”
Jockey William Buick said: “I'm very proud of her. She has grown up a hell of a lot and had only one run this year in the 1000 Guineas.
“Me and Donnacha were basically in the same place and it was a great fight but full credit has to go to the winner.
“There weren't any challenges to the draw. Up the hill, you have to use a bit of speed. The ground has changed a few things but I wouldn't know if that would affect things tomorrow.
“We were drawn one but we weren't unlucky in any way and I wouldn't call it a bad draw.
“She is a filly who stays a mile and a half and has a bit of zip and class. She has finished second in an Oaks so we are really happy with her.”
William Buick, on the 5/2 favourite and second placed Wild Illusion, said: “She ran well, stayed and handled the ground. They will all prefer good ground but she handled that ground well. I thought the filly that won the race (Forever Together) has improved a lot from Chester and just put the race to bed.”
Wayne Lordan, on 8/1 chance and third Bye Bye Baby, said: “She bowled away. She likes to bowl away and I was happy for her to do so. But she just wasn't good enough on the day.”
Ryan Moore, on fourth Magic Wand (4/1), said: “She ran a very good race, but she didn't enjoy the ground.”
Padraig Beggy, on fifth home Flattering (11/1), said: “I ran a good race. The ground is getting a little bit shifty now and when we came to the straight she changed her legs a couple of times. She stayed on well to the line.”
James Doyle, on sixth Give And Take (16/1), said: “It was just a bit disappointing. We had hoped she would run a bit better than that. She never really got into a rhythm.”
Adam Kirby, on seventh Perfect Clarity (5/1), said: “The race went very smoothly and was very cleanly run. There are no excuses but unfortunately she hated the ground. She came with a live chance but just faltered on the ground. She is still a very good filly and there is still a lot of fun to be had with her.”
Seamie Heffernan, eighth on I Can Fly (9/1), said: “I ran terrible.”
Jamie Spencer, on ninth Ejtyah (25/1), said: “The ground was against her.”
1 (3) FOREVER TOGETHER (IRE) AIDAN O'BRIEN, IRELAND 9ST 0LB DONNACHA O'BRIEN 7/1
2 (1) Wild Illusion (Sheepskin C/P) Charlie Appleby 9st 0lb William Buick 5/2 Fav
3 (6) Bye Bye Baby (IRE) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Wayne Lordan 8/1
4 (9) Magic Wand (IRE) (Tongue Strap) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Ryan Moore 4/1
5 (5) Flattering (IRE) Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Padraig Beggy 11/1
6 (7) Give And Take William Haggas 9st 0lb James Doyle 16/1
7 (8) Perfect Clarity Clive Cox 9st 0lb Adam Kirby 5/1
8 (4) I Can Fly Aidan O'Brien, Ireland 9st 0lb Seamie Heffernan 9/1
9 (2) Ejtyah David Simcock 9st 0lb Jamie Spencer 25/1
Winner owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier
Time: 2m 40.39s
Distances: 4½, 3½, 3, ½, 1½, 4½, 59, 22
Breeder: Vimal And Gillian Khosla
Breeding: 3 b f Galileo (IRE) – Green Room (USA) (Theatrical (IRE))
Tote Win: £7.70 Places:£2.30, £1.20, £2.50 Exacta:£30.20
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