'She's a queen' - Electric Ezeliya gives Weld his 25th British Classic with Epsom Oaks success

Dermot Weld's filly shines on the Epsom Downs.

Trainer : Dermot Weld
Trainer : Dermot Weld Picture: Pat Healy Photography

43 years on since Dermot Weld saddled the Lester Piggott-ridden Blue Wind to success in the Friday feature at Epsom Downs, the Rosewell House handler was back in the winners' enclosure on Oaks Day after Ezeliya produced a power-packed performance under jockey Chris Hayes.

The Karl Burke-trained Making Dreams looked to have things easy out in front for much of the twelve-furlong Group 1 contest, but as push came to shove on the outsider, the eye was soon drawn elsewhere.

Patiently ridden by a confident Chris Hayes throughout the early part of proceedings, Ezeliya soon began to make stealthy headway as the pack rounded Tattenham Corner. William Buick sent the well-backed Dance Sequence for home as the pair looked to battle it out down the Epsom straight, but it quickly became apparent that Dermot Weld's charge was getting on top and the well-bred daughter of Dubawi soon put daylight between her and the 1000 Guineas ninth, drawing away to score by a commanding three-lengths.

Charlie Appleby's Dance Sequence stuck to her task well to grab the silver medal position but ultimately proved no match for the 13/2 winner, with the David Menuisier-trained War Chimes finishing back in third at odds of 50/1.

"It's a very special day. Competition is very keen nowadays and we're very fortunate to have a filly for His Highness that is as good as this," said Weld, who was landing a 25th British and Irish Classic.

"She's a beautifully-mannered animal and a beautiful filly to train. Patience has paid dividends with her; we took our time with her as a two-year-old and just gave her one run this year when she won nicely at Navan.

"She loves to come from off the pace, this is a progressive filly. She's very relaxed and got a beautiful ride from Chris Hayes. She was cantering down the hill then he gave her a couple of strides and let her go.

"We will look at the Irish Oaks or wait for an autumn campaign."

He continued: "She's a good filly, her dam was a very good filly, Frankie Dettori rode her at the Breeders' Cup and then she ran in Hong Kong where she was third in the Vase.

"I was always pretty sure she'd stay, she's from a great staying Aga Khan family that goes back to the Gold Cup horses Enzeli and Estimate, so that's why I was confident about the trip.

"She's also a very relaxed filly and it was a beautiful ride by Chris, I was pretty confident from a long way out, she was cantering, he got her into a beautiful rhythm which is important before you let them go, and he sat for those couple of strides.

"It's a few years since I first won the Oaks, but I haven't had many runners. It's hard to get fillies like this. Harzand won the Derby here and I rode the winner of the amateur Derby here and trained it!"

"She looks like an Irish Oaks filly, but we'll see how she is."

It was the first UK Classic triumph for winning jockey Chris Hayes, who partnered Tahiyra to an agonising defeat in last year's 1000 Guineas before landing the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Irish 1000 Guineas. "She moved forward quicker than I thought she was going to," explained the delighted Limerick-born jockey. "I never had a moment's doubt, once I was approaching the furlong pole, I knew nothing was going to be able to come as quickly as she was going to finish. It took me right to the end to pull her up - it's probably because I was celebrating as well, but I had a good bit of petrol left. It was brilliant.

"I had a nightmare here a couple of years ago on Madhmoon (the 2019 Derby second); I thought I had the race won and Seamie Heffernan came down my inside.  It's not a Derby, but it's as good as I'm going to get! It's unbelievable to be getting to ride for these connections, and the faith they put in me, not only today but every day - it feels like I am finally getting on proper horses, and I hope I am able to do them justice."

On his celebration, Hayes added: "I actually said if she wins, I'll be really cool, calm and collected like a Mick Kinane, but this is unique, and it was just a surge of adrenaline in the last 50 yards - I had to do something."

Ylang Ylang was sent off the 11/8 market leader to extend Aidan O'Brien's stranglehold in the fillies' Classic, but she never really looked at ease on the track and was eventually well-beaten back in sixth under Ryan Moore. "I don't think she handled the track particularly well," explained Moore. "We were following the winner and the second, and she just didn't ping into the straight in the way I would have expected her to.

"Maybe she had a hard race in the Guineas and maybe it's come a bit too soon. She'll be better than today. She didn't finish off today, but I struggled before that."

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