Royal Ascot win a "dream come true" for Wigan's Cieren Fallon
Oxted returned to his brilliant best to run out victorious in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Roger Teal’s sprinter was reunited with an inspired Fallon – who had partnered him to success in the July Cup last season – and the young rider was able to stand up in his saddle to salute the watching crowd a few strides from the line.
Fallon, a former Shevington Strikers and Shevington Sharks junior, said: “It meant a lot. It’s Royal Ascot. It’s a Group One race. They don’t come much bigger than this – it’s a dream come true.
“Crossing that line, I never thought I’d get a feeling like it. What a feeling.
“Dropping back to a stiff five was always going to suit. There was a lot of pace in the race. With all the pace on, I thought I’d take my time, get him into a nice rhythm, get him balanced and it’s paid off.
“He was very impressive. The July Cup last year wasn’t a fluke. He’s a proper Group One horse and all credit to the team for changing it round from his last two races.”
The five-year-old horse was surprisingly running over the minimum distance for the first time in his career, although he had won the Portland Handicap over five and a half furlongs at Doncaster in 2019.
The pace in the early stages was red hot, with even Wesley Ward’s Maven struggling to keep tabs on the flying females Que Amoro and Winter Power.
As Que Amoro began to weaken, Winter Power was left in front – but Jim Crowley appeared to have her covered on Battaash with a furlong to run.
However, last year’s winner, who had a setback in the off-season meaning he was making his seasonal debut, failed to pick up when Crowley asked for an effort and he was eventually swamped, although he clung on gallantly for fourth.
Oxted (4-1) had been under pressure for a while, but powered through close home to win going away by a length and three-quarters from Arecibo and American raider Extravagant Kid.
It was a first Royal Ascot winner for both trainer and jockey, the son of six-times champion Kieren Fallon who himself enjoyed so many memorable days at the showpiece meeting.
Teal said: “It’s unbelievable, like a dream come true. This horse has been such a wonderful servant and yet he’s only a young horse and hopefully there are more days to come.
“With the Saudi trip we went because the prize-money was fantastic, but I probably ran him in the wrong race – it was just the turf sprint was almost seven furlongs. He wasn’t used to dirt and it’s a different style of racing.
“I probably backed off him too much before the Abernant and at York the ground had just gone a little. I was getting asked all the time if I was disappointed, but I thought he ran a blinder.
“The reason we came here was because if we were ever trying him over five it had to be at Ascot as it’s a stiff five. After two furlongs, I won’t lie – I was a bit dubious, but once he got to halfway his stamina came through and he was very impressive.
“Cieren gets on well with him, he won the July Cup on him. Unfortunately he was injured before the Abernant and then he had to ride The Lir Jet in France who ended up not running so he missed the ride at York.
“I think we’ll look at the July Cup again next and then see.”
Of partnering a winner at this fixture, Fallon said: “It obviously means a lot to ride a winner here and keep up the family tradition, there’s a lot of pressure with people always asking questions about it.
“I’m thankful and grateful for all these opportunities and hopefully I keep progressing.
“I was on the phone to my dad when I was walking the course after the first race, he was telling me where to go and obviously I spoke to Roger and everything went according to plan.
“All credit to Roger, he had faith in me last year when I had my claim and wasn’t allowed to use it – I’m very thankful to him.”