Vow owners hoping for an Epsom Bonfire

Vow aims to wow in Oaks

It’s no surprise to see big owners like the Maktoums, the Magniers and George Strawbridge having runners in the Oaks and the Derby. They own many of the top horses because they have the wealth to buy them. To put £14,000 into a syndicate that then finds it has a leading fancy in each of the races is something out of the pages of fiction.

Yet that is exactly the position that the 20 members of the Pocahontas group of Highclere Thoroughbred racing owners find themselves in this weekend. Between them they own Vow, running today in the Oaks, and Bonfire, whose win in the Dante at York propelled him up the market for tomorrow’s Derby.

One member of the syndicate is well placed to act as guide to his colleagues. Retired farmer James Gladstone has been here before, as he owned Petrushka, who finished fourth in the Oaks in 2000. He’s happy enough with being at Epsom with a horse. He said, “Nobody would have expected to have these two running in these Classics. It’s enough of a dream to have them running.”

Another member of the syndicate, David Beever summed up the feeling of everyone involved in the two horses, saying, “It’s like winning a lottery ticket. It’s quite astonishing to have horses in both the Oaks and Derby. There would be unbelievable excitement whichever did well.” Diplomatically, he didn’t prefer one or the other. “It would be fantastic if Bonfire could come and win the Derby, but I think we all have a special admiration for Vow.”

Victory for Vow today would be a second successive Oaks win for trainer Willie Haggas and jockey Johnny Murtagh, and really throw down the gauntlet to Bonfire’s handlers, Andrew Balding and Jimmy Fortune.

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