Racing: Oath summons Classic finish

The Derby: Fallon brings Cecil his fourth Blue Riband triumph as Oaks victory has a glorious sequel
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The Independent Online
THERE'S MAGIC in the water at Warren Place, you'd swear. Oath won the 220th Derby here yesterday in splendid style to make it three English Classics out of four this season for Henry Cecil and Kieren Fallon. The bonny little bay colt, a well-fancied 13-2 chance, beat Daliapour by a length and three-quarters, with Beat All third and Housemaster fourth. The 5-1 favourite Dubai Millennium came in ninth of the 16 runners.

The victory was a first Derby in just four attempts by Fallon, the champion jockey of the past two seasons, and a fourth for Cecil after Slip Anchor, Reference Point and Commander In Chief. The trainer now has the best Epsom record of any working, having won his sixth Oaks the previous day with Ramruma. Earlier in the season he sent out Wince to win the 1,000 Guineas and, but for the intervention of Island Sands, who beat Enrique by a neck in the 2,000 Guineas, it would have been a clean sweep for the stable at the top of Warren Hill in Newmarket.

Oath, a neat, hard-trained rubber ball of a horse, was restive in the pre-race parade in front of the grandstands and broke ranks half-way through to canter to post early. Fallon was later fined pounds 1,000 for his action, which deprived racegoers in the cheaper enclosures of a close view of the colt, but with a first prize of pounds 611,450 by then safely in the owner Ahmed Salman's keeping, it is unlikely that the jockey will be out of pocket.

Fallon kept Oath well placed behind the leading bunch, and clear of some scrimmaging, as the field turned to make the descent towards Tattenham Corner, as the local runner All The Way attempted to live up to his name. The brave effort by the leader, who led Salford Express around racing's most famous bend, lasted a furlong into the home straight before the bigger guns began to close.

Daliapour, who had always been in the first three, ranged into the lead a quarter of a mile from home, with the French rider Gerald Mosse trying to exploit his guaranteed stamina to the full. But the Aga Khan's runner was towing his nemesis in his slipstream. Fallon had made stealthy progress down the hill on Oath and, though the colt wavered for a stride or two on the turn, he soon had Daliapour in his sights.

The tussle between the two game colts was resolved after a dozen strides. A furlong out, Fallon, his lime green and white silks and the colt's distinctive white bridle almost luminous in the dull grey light of a chilly early summer day, had Oath in overdrive. Fallon glanced behind him as he approached the line, just to check, but all was well, and his grin glowed as bright as his silks.

The 34-year-old Irishman's career has taken a distinct upward turn since he joined Cecil's powerful stable. "If you have the horse, you can win these races," he said. "Oath was always travelling well. He has a lot of speed and it is easy to get a position on him. He rather lost his action on the turn off the hill, but once I gave him a slap in the straight he was soon balanced again and picked up really well in the straight. I held on to him as I went to challenge Daliapour; as far as I was concerned he was the horse I had to beat and I did not want mine to risk hanging into him down the camber. But once Oath was running, I knew he would take me to the line."

A length and a half behind Daliapour, Beat All gave the American rider Gary Stevens a fine Derby debut as he came fast and late from off the pace to snatch third place on the line from Housemaster. All The Way kept up his gallop for a most creditable fifth place, in front of Glamis, Saffron Walden, Compton Admiral and Dubai Millennium.

Oath was a first Derby runner for Salman, a Saudi Arabian prince whose horses race worldwide under the Thoroughbred Corporation banner. His colt, an Irish-bred son of the now-retired stallion Fairy King, kept the Epsom Classics all in the family, for the Oaks winner Ramruma is owned by his brother Fahd.

Oath, a rather hot-headed two-year-old who has matured mentally and physically under Cecil's tactful guidance this term, entered the Derby picture with a runaway victory in the Dee Stakes at Chester last month. He has now set the middle-distance standard for his generation and will face his contemporaries again in his next race, the Irish Derby.

Cecil said: "We were certainly not running here for fun," he said. "We knew he would stay a mile and a half. I told Kieren that if he was on his toes in the parade to go down early and look after the horse, and not worry about the fine.

"I would not be keen on taking on older horses too soon with him. Prince Ahmed has Royal Anthem [runner-up in the Coronation Cup on Friday] for the King George. But we will see how things go."

Credit to the runner-up, too, and the trainer Luca Cumani was delighted with Daliapour's brave effort to give him his second successive Derby. He said: "Halfway up the straight I thought he had a chance, then we battled for a bit and we were still in with a chance. But then I knew it was only going to be second place."

Frankie Dettori, the disappointed rider of Dubai Millennium, is still seeking his first Derby. He said of the big colt, who looked magnificent in the parade: "He ran very free early and used his energy up, and had nothing left for the finish."

HOW THEY FINISHED

1 OATH K Fallon 13-2

(Trained: H Cecil, Newmarket; Owned: The Thoroughbred Corporation)

2 Daliapour G Mosse 10-1

(Trained: L Cumani, Newmarket; Owned: H H Aga Khan)

3 Beat All G Stevens 7-1

(Trained: M Stoute, Newmarket; Owned: Saeed Suhail)

16 ran. 13/4 lengths, 11/2 lengths. 5-1 fav Dubai Millennium (9th).

Tote: win pounds 7.10; places pounds 2.80, pounds 3.50, pounds 4.60.

DF: pounds 26.50. CSF: pounds 62.16. Tricast: pounds 439.13. Trifecta: pounds 475.50.

DERBY

Slip Anchor (1985)

Reference Point (1987)

Commander In Chief (1993)

Oath (1999)

2,000 GUINEAS

Bolkonski (1975)

Wollow (1976)

1,000 GUINEAS

One In A Million (1979)

Fairy Footsteps (1981)

Oh So Sharp (1985)

Bosra Sham (1996)

Sleepytime (1997)

Wince (1999)

OAKS

Oh So Sharp (1985)

Diminuendo (1988)

Snow Bride (1989)

Lady Carla (1996)

Reams Of Verse (1997)

Ramruma (1999)

ST LEGER

Light Cavalry (1980)

Oh So Sharp (1985)

Reference Point (1987)

Michelozzo (1989)

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