Racing: Fallon conquers Epsom in Oaks rout

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The humble Speciosa ran well again in fourth, the still humbler Rising Cross even better in second, but their impudence was placed in ruthless perspective. Alexandrova outclassed the Vodafone Oaks field yesterday with a stunning exhibition of power and acceleration, her six-length rout lending fresh menace to the phalanx of Ballydoyle colts closing on Visindar today.

Rising Cross cost only 20,000 guineas as a yearling and did particularly well, in that she stumbled badly halfway up the straight. You could have bought her 21 times over for the 420,000 required to secure Alexandrova, but the harsh reality of the situation was summed up when John Magnier grinned and reflected that the winner had been "cheap at the price".

Magnier's silks had been worn by a jockey fast turning Epsom into a private fiefdom. This was Kieren Fallon's fourth success in the Oaks and other riders will have detected an ominous timbre as he pondered the possibility of a fourth Derby on Horatio Nelson. "When you win races like that, the confidence flows through you," he said. "You think anything can happen. And if it doesn't, you make it happen."

Not that he felt especially proud of his performance on Alexandrova, protesting that he had been in the wrong place throughout - held up in the rear, off a steady pace, before going all the way round the field turning in - and then hit the front sooner than intended. "But she just took off with me," he said. "She showed a tremendous turn of foot."

On perfect ground, Alexandrova edged down the camber under the whip, but kept going so strongly that the official winning margin looked highly conservative. Admittedly her task was simplified by the mystifying failure of Riyalma, who was tailed off, while Speciosa ran out of stamina despite setting a cautious pace. Even so, the winner comprehensively reversed York form with Short Skirt, who never landed a blow in third.

This spring Aidan O'Brien has given the racing public a privileged insight into how to train a horse towards a target and Alexandrova was matching the dramatic improvement made by so many of the Ballydoyle horses after their reappearance. "We were delighted with her at York," the trainer said. "She nearly got knocked down after 50 yards and lost her confidence. She was labouring a little bit, and when Kieren caught hold of her she took off with him and got there too quickly. He left us under no illusions that she would improve a ton."

Alexandrova could well perform a lap of honour in the Darley Irish Oaks, but Magnier might well be tempted to run her against the colts should the Coolmore runners somehow miss out today. In the meantime he could salute the filly's ageing stallion, Sadler's Wells, as the bedrock of his stud's achievement. "Everyone knows he's the best there has ever been and we're not going to see his like again," Magnier said. "At this stage of his career the mares he's covering are not so good, and his fertility is dropping, but he's still the best for me. He just finds it harder to get up in the morning."

That can hardly be a problem for Christophe Soumillon as he contemplates the ride on Visindar, and he did morale no harm by riding his first Epsom winner on Shirocco in the Vodafone Coronation Cup.

The German horse has continued to thrive since his transfer to André Fabre last year and may well join his stablemate, Hurricane Run, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot next month. Certainly this was an imperious display. Soumillon set such a steady pace that he briefly looked vulnerable to a change of gear from Ouija Board. In the end, however, it proved that he was merely toying with the filly, who looked rather dispirited as he maintained an advantage of a length and three-quarters.

Indeed, she only just held off the 66-1 chance, Enforcer, but second place still took her career revenue past £2m. Ed Dunlop would now like to take her to Royal Ascot. "Frankie said she has been beaten by one of the best horses in the world," the trainer said. "They got within a neck, but he pulled out more. I doubt many horses will be beating him this year."

Fabre, meanwhile, has now won the Coronation Cup six times. Notoriously, of course, he has never won the Derby. But if either of his runners are a match for the two older champions in the yard, that will probably change today.


1. Alexandrova 9-4 fav

2. Rising Cross 33-1

3. Short Skirt 9-2

Ridden: Kieren Fallon

Trained: Aidan O'Brien

Owned: John Magnier