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1985 – Oh So Sharp
The brilliant Oh So Sharp will forever have a place in the history books as the first horse to carry Sheikh Mohammed’s famous maroon and white silks to victory in a British Classic.
Trained by Henry Cecil at Warren Place in Newmarket, Oh So Sharp went into the 1985 Flat season with a Group 1 success already in the locker thanks to her Fillies’ Mile win at Ascot in her juvenile season, but it was as a three-year-old that her career took off in quite meteoric fashion.
Partnered by US pilot Steve Cauthen, who succeeded Lester Piggott as stable jockey to Henry Cecil, Oh So Sharp quickly established herself as a leading classic contender with victory in the Nell Gwynn Stakes.
However, the 1,000 Guineas didn’t go anything like to plan for the daughter of Kris, who appeared to have a mountain to climb entering the final two furlongs. It required a stirring late charge from off the pace to edge home in a three-way photo with Al Bahathri and Bella Colora in the most dramatic of conclusions to the classic.
Ground conditions at Epsom were considerably easier but the step up in trip was expected to be right up Oh So Sharp’s street and the 6/4 market leader came right away from top-class rival Triptych to win the Oaks by an emphatic six lengths, just three days after Cecil and Cauthen had combined to win the Derby with Slip Anchor.
Oh So Sharp went on to complete the fillies’ Triple Crown by beating the colts in the St. Leger at Doncaster, becoming the first horse to do so since Meld in 1955.
1986 – Midway Lady
Midway Lady only tasted defeat once in her brief but hugely successful career, and that was on debut. Her three Group 1 wins - from just six career starts - included two classics from just two outings as a three-year-old, so it was a career that was as brilliant as it was brief.
Trained by Ben Hanbury in Newmarket, the daughter of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Alleged bagged her first top flight success when justifying a very short price in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp where she was steered to victory by Lester Piggott.
Given that Midway Lady was bred to excel over middle distances, there was considerable doubt that she would have the speed to win a 1,000 Guineas, meaning she was sent a 10/1 chance at Newmarket.
The retirement of Lester Piggott, who had long been adamant that she did have the speed to win a Guineas, meant that Ray Cochrane was asked to take over in the saddle for her first assignment of 1986. Piggott was proved right as Midway Leader stayed on strongly to win the Guineas by three-quarters of a length.
Midway Lady was sent off a strongly-fancied 15/8 favourite at Epsom where the extra four furlongs was expected to suit her and she didn’t disappoint, running out a one-length winner and a second and a half quicker than the Derby winner three days earlier.
Unfortunately for connections, Midway Lady suffered a leg injury after the Oaks and never raced again.
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1990 – Salsabil
Salsabil will forever be remembered as one of the great fillies owned by Sheikh Hamdam Al Maktoum, who paid a whopping $800,000 for the daughter of Sadler’s Wells as a yearling.
Having won the Prix Marcel Boussac as a two-year-old, Salsabil went into the 1990 Flat season as one of the leading hopes for classic success, but a six-length success in the Fred Darling Stakes, a key 1,000 Guineas trial, meant that she returned to the Rowley Mile in May as the filly to beat.
Sent off a red-hot 6/4 market leader, Salsabil drew clear along with the previously unbeaten Heart of Joy before edging ahead in the closing stages under an all-out ride from Willie Carson.
Six years after trainer John Dunlop had won the Oaks for the first time with Circus Plume, Salsabil doubled his tally, running out a hugely impressive five-length winner despite conditions being softer than ideal.
It quickly became apparent that connections rated Salsabil so highly that they were intending to take on the colts in the Irish Derby, a race not previously won by a filly since Gallinaria in 1900, and the decision proved fully justified when Salsabil won by three-quarters of a length.
Salsabil only had limited success as a broodmare when tragically killed by cancer in 1996.
2002 – Kazzia
Kazzia was a little-known filly trained in Germany by Andreas Wohler until bought by Godolphin in March of 2002 and even though she turned up at Newmarket carrying the famous royal blue silks and partnered by Frankie Dettori, punters ignored her on the day.
Sent off a relatively unconsidered 14/1 chance, Kazzia stayed on strongly through the closing stages to come out on top in a bunch finish and provide an instant return for her new team.
The 1m trip of the Guineas was always going to be a minimum for the stoutly-bred Kazzia so confidence in her following up over the longer trip at Epsom was much stronger than it had been on the Rowley Mile.
On a rain-sodden Friday in June, a positively-ridden Kazzia had nearly all of her rivals in trouble before the field had even turned into the home straight. Kept up to her work by Dettori, the 100/3 favourite was always holding off runner-up Quarter Moon, with the pair a mile clear of the rest, to provide trainer Saeed bin Suroor with a second Oaks success, seven years after Moonshell won the race in 1995.
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2016 – Minding
Minding went into the winter of 2015-16 as a red-hot favourite for the Guineas and the Oaks after running out a sensational four-and-a-half length winner of the Fillies’ Mile – a performance that also confirmed her ability to act on the unique Rowley Mile course.
Minding was bread to win classics and that’s exactly what she did. Sent off a 11/10 favourite for the Guineas at Newmarket, the daughter of Galileo never gave her supporters a moment’s concern as she spread-eagled her rivals in quite dominant fashion, leading home a 1-2-3 for team Ballydoyle.
Despite a costly defeat in the Irish equivalent (sent off 4/11 favourite), when she banged her head in the starting stalls, normal service was resumed at Epsom where Minding proved far too good for what wasn’t the strongest of Oaks line-ups (only two previous Group winners among her rivals).
Minding needed to overcome some quite severe interference at the top of the hill, where she was almost brought to a standstill, but she showed her class with a brilliant change of gear in the home straight and Ryan Moore’s mount was in front by the furlong pole.
Three more Group 1 wins followed that season in the Irish Oaks, the Nassau Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes took Minding’s career earnings past the £2million mark and cemented her place as one of the best fillies ever to be trained at Ballydoyle.