Outsider Qualify causes Epsom surprise with Oaks win

SHOCK WIN: Qualify, ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, wins The Investec Oaks on Ladies Day at Epsom yesterday. Picture: John Walton/PA
SHOCK WIN: Qualify, ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, wins The Investec Oaks on Ladies Day at Epsom yesterday. Picture: John Walton/PA
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The muted response from the crowd said it all as Qualify powered her way home to hand Aidan O’Brien a surprise fifth victory at 50-1 in the Investec Oaks at Epsom.

Recent trends have shown that horses sent off at double figures in the mile-and-a-half showpiece should never be discounted, with three of the previous five winners returning at odds of 20-1.

Qualify upheld that trend when coming with a storming late run under Colm O’Donoghue to foil well-supported favourite and 1000 Guineas heroine Legatissimo in her bid to become the first horse since Kazzia in 2002 to complete the Newmarket-Epsom double.

As expected, Star Of Seville set the early pace under William Buick, closely tracked by the eventual winner’s stablemate, Together Forever.

Turning for home Qualify, who finished stone last at Newmarket and 10th in the Irish equivalent, although not beaten that far on the latter occasion, only had three behind her as the race began to reach the business end.

Despite having a wall of horses in front of him, O’Donoghue knew exactly what he had up his sleeve aboard the rank outsider.

Hitting the final quarter of a mile, the David Wachman-trained market leader and Lady Of Dubai, bidding to give the trainer Luca Cumani and jockey Adam Kirby a first win in the race, moved on as they looked to fight out the race between them.

Much to the the delight of the crowd, a second Classic looked to be on for Legatissimo and Ryan Moore as she fought off the challenge of Lady Of Dubai just outside the furlong pole to establish a clear lead.

But as the line came ever closer the petrol gauge started to run close to empty, just as the surge of Qualify, on her first run beyond a mile, was hitting top gear.

And with just yards left to go O’Donoghue produced the Curragh Group Three winner to join Legatissimo before going on to score by a short head.

O’Brien, who last won the race back in 2012 with Was, said: “We always thought she was a very good filly.

“It just took a couple of runs to learn how to ride her as a two-year-old. Joseph (O’Brien) said he was going to ride her stone cold in a Group race at the Curragh one day and she bolted in.

“After that, she went to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and just didn’t get a race.

“She was off for the winter and the plan was to run in her in the two Guineas (English and Irish) and then come here.

“The run at Newmarket went a bit wrong and she then went to the Curragh.

“Seamus (Heffernan) rode her stone cold that day and she ran a really good race. No one really noticed her, but she finished off really well in a slowly-run race,” he said.

“We knew up to a mile and a quarter she would be a top-class filly, but we weren’t sure about a mile and a half.

“Colm gave her a peach of a ride today to produce her on the line. It was class.”

After suffering a narrow defeat, Moore was handed a one-day ban for careless riding on June 21.