Perhaps he had been goaded by the sight of Kieren Fallon pulling two handicaps out of the fire, over a course where the former champion has established himself as one of the all-time masters. But Ryan Moore's maiden Classic success yesterday certainly represented a significant reiteration of the status he achieved during Fallon's various, prolonged prohibitions.
Moore weaved Snow Fairy through rush-hour traffic in the home straight to claim the Investec Oaks by a neck from the outsider Meeznah. Remember When was two lengths away in third, with the rest well beaten. Needless to say, the sullen young champion did not seem immediately transformed by his breakthrough. But none should doubt the tonic he felt within. No longer must Moore tolerate the possibility of Fallon silently pondering a telling omission in his CV.
It was a white-knuckle ride, too, on a filly whose stamina was so uncertain that Ed Dunlop, her trainer, had not even given her an Oaks entry before testing the water on her reappearance at Goodwood, over an intermediate distance, just 16 days previously. Her stylish success that day implied considerable improvement since winning just one of six juvenile starts, and her owner, Cristina Patino, authorised Dunlop to supplement her to the field for £20,000.
Moore found himself with plenty to do after Kevin Manning slowed up the front-running Akdarena, coming down the hill. Switched twice for a run, Snow Fairy ran down Meeznah in the final strides after that filly, impressively corroborating the judgement of her young trainer, David Lanigan, had launched what seemed a decisive challenge up the middle.
"It was a very rough race," Moore said. "I decided to take her back and give her a chance, because there was an awful lot of bumping around. The gaps opened nicely, and she has quickened up between them. It suited her that the pace slackened, it allowed her to stay the trip. I've never been too worried about not having won a Classic, but it's nice to win one. Being honest, there's not too much emotion going on. It's marvellous to win, but there's no point getting too excited about any one race because there are more rides tomorrow."
Though betraying her inexperience, Meeznah had taken over from Remember When inside the final furlong and it was cruel for Lanigan to have the spoils wrested away so late. But then Dunlop himself could argue that his second Oaks winner, after Ouija Board in 2004, represents equally precious impetus for his own career. In those days he was still salaried by Sheikh Hamdan, but he has since set up his own stable in Newmarket.
"I have lost my voice!" he said. "I thought Ryan gave her the most amazing ride. We got lucky that he was available, we'd won half the battle. We had doubts about her staying, but knew that she was very tough, and could quicken. You can't compare her to Ouija Board at the moment, it's just great to have won the Oaks twice – especially as this one is from our new yard."
Ouija Board went on to win the Irish equivalent, but Snow Fairy would again have to be supplemented and Dunlop will reserve her options for discussion with the owner. Lanigan's immediate instinct, however, was to send Meeznah to the Curragh. "I honestly think she'll improve a lot for the race," he said. "We were just missing that second run we wanted to give her [on account of a stone bruise] and she was a little bit green."
Rumoush had taken a bump from the winner before keeping on for fourth, but her trainer considered the idiosyncrasies of the track more of an issue. "She's run a goodish race," Marcus Tregoning remarked. "But I think she's got very unbalanced. Ryan Moore was travelling better, so there's not too many hard luck stories from me."
Gertrude Bell ran well in fifth, but Manning felt the ground was too quick for Akdarena just behind. Sajjhaa proved all at sea, eased down to finish stone last, while it proved a disappointing race for Henry Cecil, Aviate and Timepiece managing only seventh and ninth respectively. "Maybe some of the others stayed better," Tom Queally said of Aviate. "She's still quite inexperienced and maybe didn't handle the camber." Eddie Ahern felt Timepiece was inhibited on the ground.
Last year's Oaks winner, Sariska, returned to run a fine race behind the top-class colt Fame And Glory in the Investec Coronation Cup. Ridden very patiently before closing smoothly to track the winner, she was just unable to get past as Johnny Murtagh drove the favourite a length and a half clear. Aidan O'Brien, his trainer, may now risk turning Fame And Glory out again as soon as the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Bourne (3.55 Doncaster) Stable in top form and this one did well to get up over just 10f on reappearance, flat out before hitting top gear. Longer trip can prove him ahead of his mark.
Ziggy Lee (3.40 Musselburgh) Flourishing sprinter, with few miles on the clock, and did well to blitz out of the pack for second when a front-runner burnt off the rest at York last time.
One to watch
Zanazzi (J H M Gosden) Is a half-sister to a Breeders' Cup speedball in Speightstown and made a promising debut at Kempton during the week, just unable to reel in the winner.
Where the money's going
Rewilding is 13-2 from 15-2 with Totesport to win Frankie Dettori his second Derby today.