Ambassador-Horseman Farish on Hand for First British Classic Win

Will Farish, the American ambassador to Britain and owner of Lane's End Farm, is celebrating his first British Classic win after his homebred Casual Look, a 10-1 shot, scored a defiant victory in the Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I) at Epsom Downs on Friday.

The filly was a first Classic winner also for her trainer Andrew Balding and jockey Martin Dwyer. Balding, 30, is in his debut season as a trainer and went some way to emulating his father Ian, who he succeeded at Kingsclere stables this year. Ian was the same age as his son when he saddled the great Mill Reef, owner by another American, Paul Mellon, to win the 1971 Derby on the same course.

Casual Look took up the running with two furlongs remaining and stuck to her task well on the outside of the 15-runner field. In a tight finish, she was challenged by the 100-30 favorite Yesterday, who had struggled for room in the closing stages. As furiously as Yesterday finished, Casual Look hung on bravely to secure a neck success.

"I was happy when two or three kicked on and I was able to angle out," said Dwyer, Balding's regular rider. "Once I got to the outside, I always thought I would get the ones in front of me and in the last half furlong I saw those blue colors coming. She really dug deep when she met the rising ground.

"She traveled so well and is a tremendous filly. The ground is good - the top is a bit loose. I hope she is the first of many classic winners."

Summitville, a 25-1 outsider, took third, half a length away. Inchberry, another unconsidered filly was fourth, with the fancied Godolphin runner Hi Dubai only fifth.

"To stand here having won the Oaks with a home-bred filly like her is a wonderful feeling," a clearly moved Farish told The Blood Horse. "It's hard to explain because it's such a tremendous thing. I have been lucky to have been involved with some very good horses in my time, but this is the best of all. Andrew has done a marvelous job with this filly and has trained her really brilliantly and Martin rode a wonderful race on her, getting her to the outside in the straight and having her in the clear all the time in the finish. The last 50 yards were dreadful as we could see Yesterday closing all the time; it got so bad that I could hardly stand up as they got to the finish."

Casual Look had run only once this season, finishing a very
creditable sixth in the Sagitta 1000 Guineas for which she started at 50-1. She now has two wins, two second and a third in seven starts.

"I cannot quite believe it," said Balding. "Will Farish made the final decision to come here - we were wavering and thinking about going for the French Oaks. He said come on lets go for the Vodafone Oaks and I am so glad he did."

Farish keeps 10 horses in training in Europe, split between Balding and John Gosden. A long-term Europhile – he believes that many of the horses Lane's End breeds are better suited to turf – Farish admitted he found visiting his stables an important release from the pressures of his ambassador's role during a particularly traumatic period. "As we all know, things have been incredibly hard, particularly during the last six to eight months," he said.

"It's a great relief to be able from time to time to see the horses and relax a lot. It's a big help. I haven't been able to get away as much as I would like to see this filly (Casual Look, who is by Red Ransom out of the Manila mare Style Setter), but she didn't mind. She was happy to see me today!"

Farish said Casual Look could remain in training at four, but has no specific long-term plans. "I haven't even thought who I might breed her to when she retires but I have got 20 stallions at home all looking for her."

Casual Look is by Red Ransom from the Manilla mare Style Setter.

"She didn't get the best of runs but ran really well," said Yesterday's trainer Aidan O'Brien. "There's no excuses for any horse on that ground and she'll go for the Irish Oaks next."

Inchberry was fourth with Godolphin's High Dubai finishing fifth.