Oxted delivers in King’s Stand thriller

‘Fallon factor’ back at Royal Ascot.

Keith Hamer
Tuesday 15 June 2021 16:40
Oxted ridden by jockey Cieren Fallon celebrates winning the King’s Stand
Oxted ridden by jockey Cieren Fallon celebrates winning the King’s Stand

Oxted returned to his brilliant best to run out victorious in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot

Roger Teal’s sprinter was reunited with an inspired Cieren Fallon – who had partnered him to success in the July Cup last season – and the young rider was able to stand up in his saddle to salute the watching crowd a few strides from the line.

The five-year-old was surprisingly running over the minimum distance for the first time in his career, although he had won the Portland Handicap over five and a half furlongs at Doncaster in 2019.

The pace in the early stages was red hot, with even Wesley Ward’s Maven struggling to keep tabs on the flying females Que Amoro and Winter Power.

A day to remember for the Oxted team

As Que Amoro began to weaken, Winter Power was left in front – but Jim Crowley appeared to have her covered on Battaash with a furlong to run.

However, last year’s winner, who had a setback in the off-season meaning he was making his seasonal debut, failed to pick up when Crowley asked for an effort and he was eventually swamped, although he clung on gallantly for fourth.

Oxted (4-1) had been under pressure for a while, but powered through close home to win going away by a length and three-quarters from Arecibo and American raider Extravagant Kid.

It was a first Royal Ascot winner for both trainer and jockey, the son of six-times champion Kieren Fallon who himself enjoyed so many memorable days at the showpiece meeting.

Teal said: “It’s unbelievable, like a dream come true. This horse has been such a wonderful servant and yet he’s only a young horse and hopefully there are more days to come.

Oxted returns in victory

“With the Saudi trip we went because the prize-money was fantastic, but I probably ran him in the wrong race – it was just the turf sprint was almost seven furlongs. He wasn’t used to dirt and it’s a different style of racing.

“I probably backed off him too much before the Abernant and at York the ground had just gone a little. I was getting asked all the time if I was disappointed, but I thought he ran a blinder.

“The reason we came here was because if we were ever trying him over five it had to be at Ascot as it’s a stiff five. After two furlongs, I won’t lie – I was a bit dubious, but once he got to halfway his stamina came through and he was very impressive.

“Cieren gets on well with him, he won the July Cup on him. Unfortunately he was injured before the Abernant and then he had to ride The Lir Jet in France who ended up not running so he missed the ride at York.

“I think we’ll look at the July Cup again next and then see.”

An overjoyed Fallon said: “It meant a lot. It’s Royal Ascot. It’s a Group One race. They don’t come much bigger than this – it’s a dream come true.

“Crossing that line, I never thought I’d get a feeling like it. What a feeling.

“Dropping back to a stiff five was always going to suit. There was a lot of pace in the race. With all the pace on, I thought I’d take my time, get him into a nice rhythm, get him balanced and it’s paid off.

“He was very impressive. The July Cup last year wasn’t a fluke. He’s a proper Group One horse and all credit to the team for changing it round from his last two races.”

Of partnering a winner at this fixture, he said: “It obviously means a lot to ride a winner here and keep up the family tradition, there’s a lot of pressure with people always asking questions about it.

“I’m thankful and grateful for all these opportunities and hopefully I keep progressing.

“I was on the phone to my dad when I was walking the course after the first race, he was telling me where to go and obviously I spoke to Roger and everything went according to plan.

“All credit to Roger, he had faith in me last year when I had my claim and wasn’t allowed to use it – I’m very thankful to him.”

James Bredin, owners’ representative for Extravagant Kid, who is trained by Brendan Walsh, said: “Frankie (Dettori) said he was drawn on the wrong side, but I wouldn’t want to put that forward as an excuse.

I think his programme will be the norm, with Goodwood and York firmly on his agenda

I think his programme will be the norm, with Goodwood and York firmly on his agenda

Connections upbeat on Battaash

“It will be David Ross’ decision about whether we stay on for the July Cup.”

Ross said: “After Dubai that’s his second trip on a straight sprint (track) and he appears to thoroughly enjoy it.

“We will think about the July Cup and if that means hopping back, so be it.”

Angus Gold, Shadwell Estate’s racing manager, said of the Charlie Hills-trained Battaash: “Considering he had four months at the stud and came in later than usual we have to be delighted.

“He came there to win his race cruising just like the Battaash we know, but Jim said he just needed it and he had a hell of a heave as he went past the post.

“I think his programme will be the norm, with Goodwood and York firmly on his agenda.”