Flashback: How the 2021 Epsom Oaks Played Out

Written by Ian Park
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With the curtain drawn on the British National Hunt campaign at Sandown Park last month, the flat racing season is now in full flow and attention is very quickly turning to Epsom Downs for the upcoming Derby Festival.

The two-day meeting will take place at the prestigious Surrey-based racecourse on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th June, with Her Majesty the Queen officially celebrating her Platinum Jubilee at Epsom — alongside the next two British Classics of the campaign.

Of course, the Oaks and the Derby itself will take centre stage over the course of the two days, with the former headlining day one’s card before the Derby takes precedence on day two.

Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of successive victories in the Oaks, taking his overall tally in the third Classic of the season to 10, and he has a great chance of closing in on Robert Robson’s record of 13 wins — as Tuesday is the ante-post favourite if you’re looking for a bet on horse racing odds on skybet.com.

The 2021 renewal of the one-mile and four-furlong race marked a sixth victory in 10 years for the master of Ballydoyle, while it was a third win in five years for popular jockey Frankie Dettori — whose previous two mounts were for O’Brien’s old rival John Gosden, riding fan favourite Enable and Anapurna to glory in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

This was a monumental victory for the late Snowfall, who sadly died earlier this year after sustaining a serious pelvic injury. It’s fair to say that the Japanese-bred horse never lived up to her promise in her two-year-old season, winning just a Fillies Maiden at the Curragh in her seven races.

Surprisingly, despite finishing towards the back of the field in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket — her final race of the 2020 season — Snowfall’s form improved drastically last year. She won the Group 3 Musidora Stakes with Ryan Moore at York from 14/1 in May and that set up a crack at the Oaks.

With O’Brien’s Santa Barbara move favoured for the Epsom contest, Dettori took the reins of Snowfall for the Oaks, and it was a stunning display despite the torrential rain from the second favourite, as the Italian rider landed the 21st British Classic of his lengthy career.

Pushed along into the lead two furlongs out, Snowfall went clear in the final furlong — impressively streaking clear of 50/1 outsider Mystery Clear, who was no match for the winner, to win by a massive 16 lengths — the biggest winning margin in the race’s 242-year history!

“I’ve won many Classics but not one as easy as that,” Dettori said. “It was unbelievable. 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.

“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 only horse I hadn’t seen yet was Santa Barbara, and I had a quick glance, and I was already five in front. [Then] she took off, as simple as that. I knew I was at least eight in front [at the line].”

Snowfall went on to make history in the Irish Oaks, with her eight-and-a-half-length victory the biggest margin of victory in the Curragh-based race in over 100 years. A win in the Yorkshire Oaks followed, this time by four lengths before she was beaten in the Prix Vermeille and l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in Paris.

A third-place finish in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes was Snowfall’s last outing.

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Read 297 times Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2022 18:54
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Ian Park

Ian Park

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