The best horses overcome all the obstacles thrown in their path. Minding did exactly that when winning the Investec Oaks at Epsom today – in the process becoming the 48th filly to complete the 1000 Guineas/Oaks double.
Few of the other 47 on the list can have suffered the interference that Minding did running around Tattenham Corner. One moment she was travelling sweetly under Ryan Moore, poised just behind the leaders, and then in the next she was playing equine bumper cars and had been shuffled back towards the rear. Ground and momentum had been lost.
Such an incident normally spells disaster in a sport where fine margins make huge differences, especially in Classics, but Moore allowed the hot favourite to gather her composure before calmly inviting to again move forwards.
Eventually, with Architecture still in front of her and apparently not stopping under Frankie Dettori, Moore had to ask Minding for everything.
For a moment those who doubted her stamina must have believed she was about to empty, but the daughter of Galileo refused to buckle and collared Architecture inside the final furlong.
Frankie Dettori, the rider of Architecture, must have sniffed a second slice of Classic glory in the space of little more than a month for Hugo Palmer. But as the Italian and the young trainer dared to dream, Minding rolled up her sleeves and muscled past to win by three quarters of a length.
Harlequeen was an admirable third after not looking at home on the track.
“I had a charmed run and then all the boys wanted to get moving and came on top of me,” Moore said. “Mr Smith’s horse [Jeff Smith – owner of Australian Queen, who finished last of the eight finishers after Diamonds Pour Moi was pulled up] was dropping back and I had nowhere to go at that stage.
“She is a good filly and got me out of trouble. She is much the best. Her class got her out of trouble and she will be effective at shorter. She’s just a high class filly and she’s now won two Classics as well as two Group One races as a two-year-old.”
Moore was winning the QIPCO British Champions showpiece for a second time and added: “I got a bit smashed up on the rail for a bit but her class got us out of trouble. I always felt that we’d saved plenty as things had gone smoothly up to that point. I had no doubt she was the best filly and the best fillies get you out of trouble.”
O’Brien, who trains the winner for Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor, was able to celebrate his sixth Oaks win. He said: “She’s an incredible filly to win the Guineas the way she did, then go to the Curragh at short notice when it didn’t work out for her, and then come here. She has speed, class, stamina and a great mind.
“Ryan did brilliantly to win on her given what she went through during the race – they make an incredible pair.
“Everyone at home who has anything to do with her was sure she was fine and she gave a squeal yesterday which was really encouraging. Real heart and guts and courage had to come into it during the last furlong and a half, but she had all that in abundance like all the Galileos. When you go digging they usually give it.”
Minding was running just 12 days after being touched off in the Irish 1000 Guineas, where she bumped her head leaving the stalls and burst a sinus. She has earned a deserved break.
“We’ll probably give her a little easy time now, although the lads will have a talk about what they want to do.” O’Brien said.
Palmer had won the first race of the 2016 QIPCO British Champions Series with Galileo Gold in the 2000 Guineas and was delighted with Architecture.
He said: “I am hugely proud of her. There were several moments in the race when I thought we had won this but my god the winner is good.”
Mick Channon said of third-placed Harlequeen: “She is still in the process of maturing and I do think she will get better with time. She has a good attitude, nothing seems to bother her and we are absolutely delighted.”