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Oratorio - Sandown 2002

Oratorio: has got off to a good start with his early juveniles

  PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER  

Oratorio: the early
signs are promising

FROM only three runners to date, Oratorio has been represented by a winner in Wealdmore Wave, a placed horse in Dream Of Gerontius, and, in Soul Heaven, a colt who ran promisingly to finish fourth last week and looks a sure-fire maiden winner in the near future.

Oratorio's own two-year-old career gave good reason to expect a flying start by his first crop. The son of Danehill made an impressive winning debut in the May of that year and reappeared three weeks later when a well-fancied runner in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He ran too greenly to do himself justice in that race, but made amends by winning the Anglesey Stakes and running second to Damson in the Phoenix Stakes over 6f, and winning the Futurity Stakes and Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over a furlong further.

On his seventh and final start at two he finished runner-up to the outstanding juvenile of that year, Shamardal, in the Dewhurst Stakes. That run proved his toughness, as it came only a fortnight after his hard-fought French Group 1 win and was contested on ground softer than he would have appreciated.

The rivalry between three-year-olds Oratorio and Motivator lit up the 2005 Flat season. After finishing fourth in the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas and second in the Irish edition, Oratorio was never sighted when finishing tenth behind Motivator in the Derby. But on both of the colts' two subsequent encounters over ten furlongs, in the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes, Oratorio defeated Motivator by half a length.

In his two final career starts, he finished fourth in David Junior's Champion Stakes and failed to take to the dirt surface when 11th of 13 (but beaten only 12 lengths by Saint Liam) in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

In a career that spanned 17 months, Oratorio crammed in 15 runs, winning six times over trips ranging from six to ten furlongs, and finishing placed a further four times.

His defeats of Motivator weren't exactly stylish, and in fact in several races he could be seen being scrubbed along by his jockey soon after the gates opened, or running in snatches, but he was first and foremost as tough as nails, and showed tremendous courage to pass horses. This was no more evident than when he battled to repel the better-travelling Motivator in the Irish ChampionStakes.

Oratorio received a strong first book of mares at stud, in terms of both quantity - it numbered 153 - and quality, as it included 24 black-type winners, half of whom were also successful at Group level.

His first crop of yearlings through the ring last year sold for an average of 58,777gns, headed by a son of Prix Saint Alary heroine Moonlight Dance who was knocked down to Demi O'Byrne for €400,000 at Arqana. The colt is now named Fencing Master and is in training with Aidan O'Brien.

Other big prices were paid by Paul Cole on behalf of Jim and Fitri Hay at the Goffs Million, for a €350,000 half-brother to Echo Of Light now called Nerves Of Steel, and by Hugo Merry Bloodstock for a colt from the family of Henrythenavigator and Listen who cost €260,000. The latter is called Beethoven, trained by Aidan O'Brien, and is entered in a number of races this week to make his racecoursedebut.

WHAT THEY SAY:

"His half-sister Elusive Wave won the French 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, and he is one I like a lot. He won at Navan last month despite hating the ground, and came outof the race fine. We will take our time with him - we will look at Royal Ascot but the longer-term aim is the Goffs Million race. He is a nice, hardy, professional horse and I would expect lots of improvement from him."
Ger Lyons, trainer of Wealdmore Wave

"Oratorio was an absolute joy to train with a great attitude to his racing. We've got three very nice colts by him who have all done everything right so far."
Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Beethoven, Fencing Master and Fairy Mist

 

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