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‘Exceptional’ Azurra wins British Bred Oaks in absolutely fabulous style – Paul Blake reviews the weekend action

Fabulous Azurra took the BGBF British Bred Oaks by the scruff of the neck on Friday night at Oxford, holding off the late charge of wide runner, No Rush, by just a short head in a thrilling finale.

The Oaks final proved to be a clean race for the two key protagonists, Patrick Janssens’ Fabulous Azurra, and Carol Weatherall’s No Rush. Azurra, in the white jacket, was very quickly away and led into the first bend where she was joined by No Rush on the outside. Fabulous Azurra took a 1/2 length advantage into the final bend with No Rush looming large on her outside. The striped jacket ran wide on the final bend, maintaining momentum but running further. Azurra turned in efficiently, losing only a little speed in the process. From then on, it was just a matter of seeing if the white jacket could hold on with No Rush finishing like an absolute train. She did. Albeit, by the smallest of margins.

Of the supporting cast at Oxford, Singalong Stacey was an impressive third, running a personal best time of 26.94 (calculated), despite almost being the filling in a Shockwave Amber and Flyhigh Artist sandwich at the first bend. Trainer, Kevin Hutton had no complaints though.

“No complaints from Friday night. I thought Stacey ran well and clocked a personal best, so we couldn’t have asked for more. We were beaten fair and square by an exceptional bitch.

“We’ll head to Towcester for the Empress Stakes next. She’ll appreciate the step back up to 500m.”

Fabulous Azurra (red Jacket) holds off Mystical Mario (black jacket) in the third round of the English Derby at Towcester. Photo: Paul Blake

Saturday’s Ladbrokes Gold Cup semi-final action at Monmore saw Pall Mall winner Links Maverick clock the fastest time of the round. Maverick, won Heat 3 for Tom Heilbron, ahead of Richard Rees’ wide running Churchfield Syd who becomes the only wide runner in the final. The reward for Links Maverick is the inside box in the final.

Joining ‘Mav’ in the £10000 finale will be Patrick Janssens Hawkfield Ozark, who finished third in the Pall Mall, and Mark Wallis’ Whyaye Man, after they both won their semi-finals with room to spare. Whyaye Man’s ‘reward’ is a horror draw. He will race in unfamiliar territory as he is drawn in Trap 5 for the final.

In the Summer Stayers Classic, Fromposttopillar came through a tough semi to progress into the final ahead of kennelmate Havana Top Note. Liz McNair’s Havana Bale Out misses out, despite showing plenty of early and switching to the outside mid-race.

Ante-post favourite, Droopys Clue, justified the bookmakers’ pre-competition caution when winning the second semi-final convincingly. Seamus Cahill’s black and white is growing into the competition as he progresses through the rounds and will be difficult to beat in the final. Droopys Clue was followed home by Barrie Draper’s 2-year-old black bitch, Distant Emma, who can never be written off. She has been handed the white jacket for the final.

Droopys Clue ahead of Round 1 Derby action at Towcester. Photo: Paul Blake

Making up the final six in the Stayers will be Derby finalist, Cochise, who is proving very consistent over the longer trip, and Liz McNair’s blue, Warzone Tom. Of these, Cochise is probably the most likely to challenge for honours; he is drawn in Box 2. Warzone Tom is drawn in orange, meaning that the McNair string dominate the outside three traps, with ‘Postie’ in the striped jacket and Havana Top Note in all black.

With two Category 1 finals to look forward to next Saturday, all eyes turn to Monmore. Will Maverick fly high again? Will Postie deliver? Answers on a postcard…

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