Racing: Ouija Board raises the spirits in Irish Oaks

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The Independent Online

The name of Ouija Board was inscribed on the legends' board at the Curragh yesterday when she became the 10th filly to complete the English and Irish Oaks double and the first since Henry Cecil's Ramruma in 1999.

The name of Ouija Board was inscribed on the legends' board at the Curragh yesterday when she became the 10th filly to complete the English and Irish Oaks double and the first since Henry Cecil's Ramruma in 1999.

Ed Dunlop's filly was probably not as good as she had been at Epsom, but she was good enough in the hands of Kieren Fallon. Even her moderate is quite awesome.

"Her great attribute is her temperament and that has helped her today," Dunlop said. "She's proved herself to be a champion and it is fantastic to win another Classic. She is in the International Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks, but we'll just take her home and make no rash decisions."

There were no impulse moves either from Fallon yesterday. The Irishman allowed Ouija Board to coast along in the slipstream of Godolphin's Punctilious as first All Too Beautiful and then Danelissima hammered away on the lead.

The last-named gave way on the turn into the straight, by which time Fallon had felt the need to keep the bit moving to keep Ouija Board's interest. First All Too Beautiful went on and then Punctilious, but the decisive thrust was the last as the black and white colours of Lord Derby appeared down the outside.

Ouija Board was not as devastating as she had been at Epsom, indeed, she swerved over to the comfort of the rail, yet she was still omnipotent.

Punctilious, who was over 10 lengths behind Ouija Board at the end of their first meeting, tried to rally and lost little in defeat, but the 4-7 favourite was always holding her and finished a comfortable length to the good. John Oxx's Hazarista did best of the home-trained brigade, putting in a strong finish to be third.

Simon Crisford, racing manager to Godolphin, said of the runner-up: "We're very happy with that performance. She is so consistent. It would be lovely to win a Group One with her before the season ends and that will be the target now."

William Hill cut Ouija Board to 10-1 from 12-1 for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Long-champ in October, while Punctilious was reduced to 12-1 from 16-1 for the St Leger with Ladbrokes, who dropped the disappointing All Too Beautiful from the betting for the Doncaster Classic.

All Too Beautiful's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, was the recipient of better fortune in the Anglesey Stakes, in which Oratorio led home his Ballydoyle stablemate Cougar Cat. The 9-1 winner was ridden by Seamus Heffernan, with stable jockey Jamie Spencer electing to partner Cougar Cat in the Group Three contest.

Spencer's mount briefly looked a danger inside the final furlong after struggling for a clear run at one point, but Oratorio hung on relatively comfortably for a one-length success after racing up with the pace all the way. "That was better than yesterday," O'Brien said.

Saturday was another ugly snapshot in what has been a wart-marked season for the young trainer. The much-fêted One Cool Cat capitulated for the second consecutive race and is beginning to look like an ex-racehorse.

There were those who thought that One Cool Cat's reputation was rather more than the sum of his juvenile form parts, but that esteem was always propped up by O'Brien's radiant words. Then came the 2,000 Guineas, in which One Cool Cat finished with a heart problem, then Saturday's International Stakes, in which the 1-2 shot dribbled home fifth behind Red Feather.

"I was very disappointed," O'Brien said. "I didn't think there was a three-year-old in the world that could have beaten him yesterday. His work at home has been unbelievable and he is a very special horse, but he did not put it together on the day. We'll have to see if there is some sort of heart complaint that we haven't detected.

"His heart has been fine at home but it was slow after the race, so there may be a problem there that we don't know about. His heart was about 80bpm after the race, whereas it should have been more like 130bpm.

"I'd love him to race again, but not if there is a problem with him. I did think everything was okay up to yesterday as his work is so quick at home, he never comes off the bridle. I just can't believe what happened."

* Trade Fair proved the best of a strong British challenge in the Minstrel Stakes when powering to victory at the Curragh yesterday. Roger Charlton sent the four-year-old to Co Kildare in search of his first win of the season after flopping in his last two races. The colt started 13-8 favourite for the Group Three contest and ran out a length-and-a-half winner from One More Round.