O'Brien retains grip on Classics as 20-1 shot Was lands Oaks shock under Heffernan
16:02 GMT, 1 June 2012
Aidan O'Brien's Was claimed victory in the Investec Oaks at Epsom in the hands of Seamus Heffernan.
The 20-1 chance was ridden positively in the early stages of the mile-and-a-half contest, just tracking the early pace set by Nayarra, with stablemate Twirl also well to the fore.
Classic shock: Was (right), ridden by Seamie Heffernan, wins the Investec Oaks
Investec Oaks 2012 result
1 Was (J A Heffernan) 20-1
2 Shirocco Star (D Holland) 16-1
3 The Fugue (William Buick) 11-4 Fav
12 ran Also: 9-2 Vow 4th
Non Runners: 6, 11
Leading fancy Vow ranged up to make a race of it at the top of the home straight, but Was quickened best of all against the far rail to take top honours by a neck.
Shirocco Star ran a stormer to finish second, with 11-4 favourite The Fugue coming from a long way back to claim third and Vow fourth.
Even with Kissed having been withdrawn earlier in the day, Was featured among five O'Brien-trained fillies in the race, with 1,000 Guineas third Maybe the most fancied.
Was won her only juvenile appearance at the Curragh last August, but was beaten into third in last month's Blue Wind Stakes at Naas.
Everyone else in the shade: Aidan O'Brien (left) and John Magnier (right)
In a race where it proved sensible to be prominent off a slow gallop, the three-year-old showed plenty of dash to claim a surprise victory.
Shirocco Star's run was particularly meritorious given she was fractious in the preliminaries.
Oaks queen: Heffernan gave Was a positive ride to land the spoils at Epsom
Seamus salute: Heffernan celebrates his Oaks win
The Fugue and William Buick were
short of room in the early stages and ended up further back than ideal,
but she finished off her race well and arguably goes down as an unlucky
Vow travelled like the winner for a long way and ran a creditable race in fourth.
was another filly who was a long way back for much of the journey in
the hands of the trainer's son, Joseph, before staying on for fifth.
Heffernan said: 'I had enough horse to take two lengths when I needed it.
'I've been very lucky in these colours and I have the owners to thank for trusting me.
'I was on the bridle and had plenty of petrol. When you have plenty of petrol you can go where you like.'
O'Brien was securing his fourth Oaks success, with his last victory in the Epsom Classic arriving with Alexandrova in 2006.
The master of Ballydoyle was also preserving his unbeaten record in British Classics this term after Camelot and Homecoming Queen struck in the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas respectively.
O'Brien said: 'Seamus gave her a lovely ride, she came on lovely from her first run so we were delighted.
'She's a very good looking filly with a great pedigree. He's a great fellow, Seamus, a world-class jockey. He knows all these horses inside out and and nobody deserves it more.'
O'Brien said of Maybe, who ran on to take fifth: 'She ran well, she was coming there and coming there but a mile and a quarter might be as far as she wants to go.'
Darryl Holland, rider of Shirocco Star, said: 'I don't think she was unlucky. The way the race was run it was a bit tactical.
'The winner had the rail and kept out-battling me towards the end.
'I was pressing the button at the furlong marker but the other horse just pulled out a bit more.
'I needed a better gallop and I had to be handier than I wanted to be at an earlier stage.'
Can't catch me: Was and Seamus Heffernan hold on to win the Oaks
Johnny Murtagh said of Vow: 'They went very slow and I thought I had it at one stage but I thought she'd quicken better than she did.'
Was now has the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh in July as a possible conditional aim.
O'Brien said: 'There's no doubt she's progressing all the time and she's a filly who we are really looking forward to.
Tactical affair: Was (right) just held off Shirocco Star
'It (the Irish Oaks) is possible, but we need to let the boys speak about things during the week.'
Maybe could revert to a mile for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot later in the month.
O'Brien said: 'She might even go back (in trip) to the Coronation – she has a miler's pace.'
Deserved Classic success: Heffernan takes the plaudits after a great ride on Was