WILLIAM Buick hopes The Fugue can finally dance to his tune today and land the Darley Yorkshire Oaks for the filly’s owner-breeders Andrew Lloyd-Webber and the composer’s wife Madeleine.
One of the jockey’s all-time favourite horses after her imposing Musidora triumph on Knavesmire in May, 2012, John Gosden’s stable star has also been one of Buick’s unluckiest mounts.
She had no luck in running during last year’s Epsom Oaks or the Breeders’ Cup in America. French raider Shareta had just too much class and experience in last year’s Yorkshire Oaks. When The Fugue did get her nose in front in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, Buick was on the Gosden’s more fancied runner, Izzi Top, who trailed home in a disappointing – and frustrating – sixth place.
As such, the 25-year-old is hoping for a change of script in today’s Group One highlight when his horse takes on Oaks second Secret Gesture, Ballydoyle’s Venus De Milo and the Lady Cecil pair of Riposte and Wild Coco, who will carry the sentimental hopes of Knavesmire racegoers in tribute to her late husband Sir Henry.
“The Fugue’s one of my favourites and, hopefully, the fast ground will play to her strengths,” Buick told the Yorkshire Post.
“She was back near her best at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s behind Al Kazeem, who is a very good horse this season, and there were sound excuses for her poor run last time out in the Eclipse.
“She scoped badly afterwards and that explained everything. When I pressed the accelerator button, there was nothing there – which was very unlike her.
“She was a bit unlucky a few times last season, but she has a great chance if she brings her A-game to York.”
The Northern Racing College graduate – who regularly blogs for TV channel At The Races – is, once again, having another season to remember.
He won the Group One Falmouth Stakes on Elusive Kate, despite having to survive a stewards’ inquiry and BHA appeal after connections of runner-up Sky Lantern claimed that the winner had impeded their horse by drifting left.
Poker-faced and ice-cool in the stewards’ room when Sky Lantern’s jockey Richard Hughes stated his case in the televised inquiry, Buick says the experience was “nerve-wracking” and “not fun”. He says Elusive Kate’s subsequent success in France’s prestigious Prix Rothschild proved her credentials as a top class filly.
Buick also won last month’s Nassau on Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Winsili, making amends for his loss last year, and hopes the Gosden-trained Swiss Spirit can go close in tomorrow’s Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes sprint.
He won the race 12 months ago when coming from near-last to first on Ortensia and knows he will need luck in running against top-class horses. Narrowly beaten at Haydock when finishing quickest of all, Swiss Spirit was slightly inconvenienced at Goodwood when the Bryan Smart-trained and Harry Redknapp-owned Moviesta made his winning move. “The best horse still won on the day, but Swiss Spirit is in very good form. Mind, he’s up against some big horses,” added Buick.