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Qualify causes Investec Oaks shock

5 Jun 2015

50/1 outsider Qualify overhauled 1000 Guineas winner Legatissimo late on to win the 2015 Investec Oaks

Qualify (red jacket) just pips Legatissimo to the post in the 2015 Investec Oaks.

There was a dramatic conclusion to the 2015 Investec Oaks as 50/1 outsider Qualify overhauled the favourite Legatissimo to get up in the final stride. 

Legatissimo was sent off as the 5/2 favourite on the back of her success in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, and she looked to have secured a classic double when storming into the lead inside the final couple of furlongs. The unheralded Qualify – who had been available at 100/1 on the morning of the race – emerged as the only danger as they entered the final furlong and, under Colm O’Donoghue, she came with a sustained and ultimately-successful challenge, edging ahead close home to register a short-head victory. Lady of Dubai finished two and a half lengths back in third.

Qualify was one of three runners from the powerful Aidan O’Brien yard –he was also represented by Together Forever (7th) and Diamondsandrubies (4th) – but, despite the massive starting price, the win didn’t come as a surprise to the trainer. O’Brien said: “She was always very classy. We’re lucky, we have high-class horses and she’d always worked like one. Colm gave her a masterful ride".

Qualify had been successful at Group 3 level as a juvenile, but had been soundly beaten in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on her return, and then finished down the field in the Irish 1,000 Guineas on her latest start. However, Qualify showed much-improved form to get the better of the Ryan Moore-ridden Legatissimo, who had traded at the basement price of 1.01 on Betfair, so likely did victory look inside the final couple of furlongs.

Legatissimo boasts a strong middle-distance pedigree, but her trainer, David Wachman, feels that she will be better off stepping down in trip. "She came there to win her race but just ran out of petrol. We’ve got no excuses".  

In a messy race, which was run at a steady early tempo and saw a number of horses suffer interference down the home straight, a stewards’ enquiry was called, though the winner was never in any danger of losing the race. 

There may have been a stirring, exciting finish but, in form terms, this wouldn’t rank as a vintage Oaks by any means, the winner’s Timeform rating likely to rank in the mid-to-low 110s. For context, last year’s winner, Taghrooda, was rated 119 following her wide-margin win.

Legatissimo was rated 120 prior to the Oaks, so, while she ran creditably in second, she strictly performed below her best and can still be regarded as the best filly, though she may need a return to shorter to confirm that impression.