Suspected stamina limitations made it hard to predict a victory for Ouija Board in today's Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I) over 12 furlongs at Epsom, but that didn't stop the daughter of Cape Cross surging to an emphatic and historic seven-length win.
Ouija Board is owned by the present Lord Derby, whose family have such an indelible link with Epsom, particularly as this is the 225th anniversary of the Derby, which secured its name on the toss of a coin with a rival aristocrat, the Earl of Bunbury.
The Oaks, meanwhile, is named after the Surrey residence of the Derby family, and to boot the 12th Earl had won the inaugural running with Bridget in 1779.
Ouija Board is a half-sister to the Arlington Stakes winner Teleprompter but her sire, the miler Cape Cross, left massive stamina doubts over 12 furlongs.
Not that you would have noticed in the race itself. Settled beautifully by Kieren Fallon, the troubled champion jockey, Ouija Board took up the running only after the more fancied pair of Godolphin's Punctilious and Ballydoyle's All Too Beautiful had in turns crashed and burned.
The further she went, the further Ouija Board pulled clear. "I was very impressed when she won her previous race at Newmarket," Fallon said. "And she didn't give me any indication that she shouldn't stay. She was unbelievable today."
All Too Beautiful, a full-sister to the 2001 Derby winner Galileo, may renew rivalry with Ouija Board in the Irish Oaks. "She ran very well but was just green. She hasn't had a lot of racing," her trainer Aidan O'Brien said.
Punctilious, the spearhead of Godolphin;s two runners, took third, three lengths behind All Too Beautiful, whose stablemate Necklace was fourth.
Trainer Clive Brittain is often ridiculed for running horses in high grade races for which they seemingly have little or no chance.
Even though he had won the Vodafone Coronation Cup (Eng-I) last year, it was hard to summons any enthusiasm for Brittain's charge Warrsan in this year's race over the Oaks course and distance, especially after two prior below par efforts. But lo and behold he cruised to victory by 1 ¾ lengths, taking it up with a furlong and a half to run.
The victory was not without controversy as owner Saaed Manana had insisted on a change of jockey, replacing last year's winning rider Philip Robinson with Darryll Holland.
Brittain said: "There was a difference of opinion because I thought Philip did a very good job. Both Saeed and Philip are friends of mine. Philip felt unjustly treated and rightly so, because he would have won on the horse today."
This was not the only fall out between owner and jockey in the Coronation Cup. With typical abruptness, Alec Wildenstein announced Dominique Boeuf would never ride for him again following his third place on Vallee Enchantee, who finished a short head behind the runner-up Doyen, on whom Frankie Dettori was squeezed for room close home.
Wildenstein said after watching his filly launch a flying finish: "We were not unlucky, the filly should have won by two lengths. This is the second group I he (Boeuf) has lost after not following orders. He was told to come round the outside but he got boxed in. Dettori didn't let him out but he is entitled to be playing his games, that's race riding."