Longshot Dancing Rain benefitted from a masterful ride by Johnny Murtagh as she posted a gate to wire victory in the $531,222 Investec Oaks (Eng-I) at Epsom June 3.
Dismissed at odds of 20-1, the chestnut daughter of Danehill Dancer broke alertly and was sent straight to the front by Murtagh. The three-time Derby winning jockey, who had never previously ridden an Oaks winner, was allowed to dictate the pace, slowing things down to a crawl on the front end. Kieren Fallon, aboard second choice Wonder Of Wonders, kept his filly close in second, as favored Blue Bunting was settled into mid-pack early by Frankie Dettori.
Dancing Rain continued to have things her own way, setting moderate fractions as the field of 13 rounded Tattenham Corner and entered the home straight. With two furlongs left to run, Dancing Rain was stubbornly holding onto the lead, as Fallon put Wonder Of Wonders into a drive and attempted to overtake the longtime leader. Dancing Rain dug in and found more in reserve, holding on for a game three-quarter length victory.
Izzi Top rallied late to nip Blue Bunting for third, finishing four lengths behind Wonder Of Wonders. Frankie Dettori was handed a 10-day riding ban for his ‘failure to finish’ aboard Blue Bunting, which cost them third place. The suspension will run from June 17-June 26.
Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:41.73 over a course listed as good.
Winning trainer William Haggas, who notched his first Oaks victory, was delighted after the race, telling reporters, “I’m thrilled to bits. [My wife] Maureen broke her leg off this filly coming out of the stalls, but the filly has rewarded her anyway.”
Maureen Haggas, the daughter of the legendary Lester Piggott, added, “It was just one of those silly accidents. It wasn’t her fault, but unfortunately I broke my fibula, so having ridden her all winter, I haven’t been able to ride her all week.”
The Oaks victory was the first stakes win for Dancing Rain, who now boasts two wins from four lifetime starts. Dancing Rain was bred in Ireland by Swettenham Stud, and is owned by M.J. and L.A. Taylor. She is out of the unraced Indian Ridge mare, Rain Flower, who is a half-sister to champion 3-year-old colt Dr Devious, winner of the 1992 Ever-Ready Derby (Eng-I).