Racing: Shahtoush whoosh leaves Dettori standing

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The Independent Online
THE record book will show, primarily, that Shahtoush won the Oaks here yesterday. In fact, it was Michael Kinane.

If the Irish filly and her three-quarter length victim, Bahr, ever meet again it would be a bold punter indeed who predicted a similar outcome. The difference between the two yesterday was not their respective abilities. Rather it was the level of assistance they received from their confederates in the saddle.

Frankie Dettori must have thought the Classic was his as he eased Bahr towards the leaders a furlong and a half from home. Certainly, his main market rival, Midnight Line, was beginning to show the fatigue of the beaten. However, the Italian was swiftly jumped by the alley mugger form of Kinane. Dettori fought on from there but the decisive move had been made and checkmate was inevitable. In the end the two fillies were separated by the three-quarters of a length Kinane had stolen in his mind.

"I think I snuck up on Frankie a little bit and gave him a surprise," Kinane said. "I knew he had the ones in front covered and he was going sweet, so I suddenly shot by him. He may not have expected me to be going so well behind and when I quickened I really let her go."

It had been a tactical masterclass from Kinane throughout. He refused to get involved with a pacemaker, Trophy Wife, who probably broke the course record for the first five furlongs; he refused even to get involved in the shuffling behind the leader. "The plan was to ride her patiently and she dropped her head immediately coming out of the gate so I left it there," the Irishman said. "I could see Midnight Line and some of the others getting into a fight and I was happy not to be involved. It suited me for her to be at the back to start." Her position at the end did not displease him either.

This was yet another major training triumph for Aidan O'Brien, who doesn't give quotes. He just takes Classics. This was his second British gong of the season following King Of Kings' 2,000 Guineas. In between he has also collected the Dante Stakes with Saratoga Springs, a hat-trick which makes him the leading trainer in Britain this year.

Shahtoush will now go for the Irish Oaks, which is also the target for Bahr. Dettori has five weeks to plot his revenge.

As a pointer to the Derby, the Oaks had fingers pointing everywhere. The Ballydoyle camp can hardly be downcast, but there was as much succour for Godolphin. Bahr's owners today saddle up Cape Verdi, who is considered much the superior. In addition, the 1,000 Guineas winner had Shahtoush five lengths back at Newmarket so the form looks solid.

The signal to another fancied Blue Riband horse, Greek Dance, was hardly dazzling after the Coronation Cup, however. His Newmarket galloping partner Nicole Pharly not only finished last in the Group One contest but also became 20 lengths detached from the penultimate horse.

It had not looked as though the filly would bring up the rear for much of the contest. That slot appeared safely booked for Silver Patriarch. And he won.

The grey exhibited in the Derby last season that he is not an animal who scoots around these tight corners of Surrey pleasingly. From the outset yesterday Pat Eddery was jumping around on his saddle so energetically that it was easy to assume someone had slipped a thistle into his breeches.

Once Silver Patriarch hit the straight, however, he built up the sort of momentum that knocks down walls. "I knew I would be struggling because he's a lazy type of horse and this isn't the best track in the world for him," Eddery reported. "When I got within four lengths of them before the dip, I thought I'd pick them up because we know from last year that he does fly up the hill. He really picked up and went by good horses quick. On a fair track he'd have beaten them three lengths."

The double doors now open for Silver Patriarch's options. As a St Leger winner it could have been the slog up to Cup distances for him. Now he can realistically be primed for the glamour events over 12 furlongs.

"It is really down to a question of optimism and Pat's opinion that we brought him back to a mile and a half," John Dunlop, the winning trainer, said.

"We never even entered him for the Ascot Gold Cup and I think we will have to go to Ascot now for the King George." We will get an idea this afternoon whom he might be facing.