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Ouqba Ascot June 2009

Ouqba (left) overhauls Deposer to take the Jersey Stakes

  PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER  

 

Ouqba denies Deposer
in Jersey thriller

Report: Royal Ascot, Wednesday

Jersey Stakes (Group 3) 7f

RICHARD HILLS'S confidence in Infiraad proved unfounded when the Tadhg O'Shea-ridden second string for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum and trainer Barry Hills came from last to first to outgun the front-running Deposer.

The 12-1 winner was dropped in last by O'Shea and appeared outpaced early on, but as they approached the final furlong O'Shea picked up his whip and the son of Red Ransom sithed through the field to join long-time leader Deposer.

Deposer had been backed into 16-1 (from 20) and dug deep, hugging the rail under Robert Winston, as he had done from flag fall, but Ouqba reached deeper to prevail by half a length.

Hills' mount Infiraad was sent off the 5-1 favourite after two impressive victories but became trapped in the centre andlooked beaten even before Ouqba travelled into contention.

The win provided Hamdan Al Maktoum with back-to-back victories but it was Barry Hills's first Jersey win since Merlin's Charm in 1982 and a first Royal Ascot win for the victorious jockey.

Hopefully this is the first of many," said O'Shea. "He was spot on for today, he is a very tough horse and he deserved that. He's a lovely horse and a pleasure to ride.

"It's always niceto pick up spare rides but for Richard it was a hard situation. Infiraad has been nothing but impressive on the track and at home this year.

"My fellow was a little bit underrated, but it's fortunate it's worked out for me. I wouldn't get on horses like this if it wasn't for the job (second jockey to Sheikh Hamdan)."

The winning trainer's son and assistant Charlie Hills said: "We were delighted with his work leading up to the Free Handicap.

"He won very convincingly there but the 2000 Guineas came too quick forhim. He didn't run a bad race, he just ran a bit flat and we'd beaten delighted with him before this race.

"The other horse had been working well too which was why Richard chose him and he was a progressive horse. Ouqba is very tough and genuine.

"He has raced quite lazily today, but he's knuckled down well and showed a good turn of foot in his races before and we were delighted with him today.

"Obviously there's the Foret later in the season but we will keep him to seven furlongs and look at something like the Lennox Stakes for him."

At 140,000gns, Ouqba was the fifth most expensive yearling sold at the 2007 DBS St Leger Sale. The son of Red Ransom was bred by Highclere Stud out of Dancing Mirage, also the dam of Listed winner Foxhaven.

A winning daughter of Machiavellian, Dancing Mirage is a half-sister to the dam of Derby fourth Housemater and out of the Grade 2-placed Kraemer. Further back, the family includes the Prix du Moulin runner-up Shaanxi.

After returning barren to Choisir in 2007, Dancing Mirage visited Teofilo last year.

 

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