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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Sprinterstogo: Oasis Dream Wins Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) For John Gosden

Foaled on March 30, 2000, Oasis Dream was a son of Green Desert, winner of the July Cup and renowned for ability to sire world-class winners over distances up to a mile. He was trained by John Gosden, on the Manton Estate, near Marlborough, Wiltshire – at the time owned by the late Robert Sangster – and ran in the familiar green, white and pink colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, owner of Juddmonte Farms. 

Oasis Dream made an inauspicious start to his racing career, finishing beaten favourite in two maiden stakes races, over 6 furlongs and 7 furlongs, respectively, at Sandown in August, 2002. The following month, he opened his account in a similar race, over 6 furlongs, at Nottingham, making all the running and quickening clear in the closing stages to win easily, by 4 lengths. 

On the strength of that facile success, on his next start, in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, less than two weeks later, he was sent off 6/1 co-third favourite of three, behind 6/4 favourite Elusive City, winner of the Prix Morny at Deauville on his previous start in August. The market confidence in Oasis Dream was not misplaced, though. Outsider Irrawaddy, trained by Aidan O’Brien, took the 10-strong field to beyond halfway, but was tackled soon afterwards by better-fancied stable companion, Tomahawk, ridden by Mick Kinane; nevertheless, Oasis Dream, who had raced prominently throughout, took the lead approaching the furlong marker and was ridden out by Jimmy Fortune to beat Tomahawk by 1½ lengths, with Elusive City a further neck away in third place. 

After a 257-day break, Oasis Dream reappeared in June, 2003, at Royal Ascot, where he carried a Group One penalty, for winning the Middle Park Stakes, in the King’s Stand Stakes, which was, at that time, a Group Two contest. Despite tackling 5 furlongs for the first time, he was sent off 6/1 favourite in the 20-strong field; ridden by Richard Hughes, he once again raced prominently but, although he chased the eventual winner, Choisir, in the final furlong, he could make no impression and finished third, beaten 2½ lengths. The following month, back over 6 furlongs, he took his revenge on Choisir, beating the Australian sprinter by 1½ lengths, on identical terms to those at Ascot, in the July Cup at Newmarket to record the second Group One win of his career. 

The third wasn’t long in coming either, because six weeks later Oasis Dream was made 4/9 favourite for the Nunthorpe Stakes which, despite being run over 5 furlongs on the perfectly flat straight course at York, featured nothing of the same calibre, if his official rating of 125 was anywhere near accurate. In fact, his nearest rival in the betting market was Dominica, a 110-rated four-year-old, trained by Marcus Tregoning, whom he’d beaten by 1½ lengths, on 1lb better terms, in the King’s Stand Stakes. 

In any event, Richard Hughes and Oasis Dream took the Nunthorpe Stakes by the scruff of the neck, making all the running, quickening at just after halfway and stretching clear in the closing stages to win, impressively, by 2½ lengths. The King George Stakes winner, The Tatlling – who would become famous for his longevity as a sprinter but, at that time, was still a sprightly six-year-old – officially finished second, but he, like the other six runners, never held any realistic chance of catching the winner. The winning time, of 56.20 seconds, was only four-hundredths of second slower than the course record set by Dayjur, a.k.a ‘the fastest horse in the world’, in the 1990 renewal of the Nunthorpe Stakes.

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