Connections of Mojo Star are excited for the future after the maiden ran the race of his life to finish second at odds of 50-1 in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom.
Trained by Richard Hannon for owner Kia Joorabchian, Mojo Star had just two previous runs under his belt ahead of the premier Classic, finishing second in two Newbury maidens in October and last month.
Partnered by David Egan, Mojo Star defied his inexperience to chase home impressive four-and-a-half-length winner Adayar, and Joorabchian, who is involved in the football industry, believes his Sea The Stars colt has some big days ahead of him.
He said: “It’s very, very exciting. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in the Derby and he’s run a great race. It was a fantastic run.
“Richard and Rossa (Ryan, his retained rider, who is currently injured) always loved this horse and always spoke about him very highly.
“Today he proved it, and that’s only his third run. You have to remember he’s quite inexperienced and he’s going to get better from here, and he’s going to be brilliant. Richard has a lot of belief in the horse and thinks he can go further and further, so we are very excited.
“I remember when we bought him Ross Doyle was very keen on him. Since then we’ve been patient with him and it’s proving to be very successful, as finishing second in the Derby is not an easy thing to do. We are a young operation – still a baby operation – and we are up against the big Goliaths.
“I’m loving being in racing.”
Hannon added: “This is a massive day for the owner. There’s more to life than winning the Derby, and it’s just what he needs. He wanted to come here and we always thought he was very good. He’s got loads of horses and that will cheer him up.
“We’ve got enough money now from this to throw at some fancy entries.”
Adayar was one of three runners for Charlie Appleby, who also saddled third-placed Hurricane Lane. He said: “He’s finished third in a Derby and is going to be a contender in some of the other big races in the year.”
Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney was fourth for veteran handler Jim Bolger, and jockey Kevin Manning thought it was a fair effort.
He said: “I had a good run all the way, but he just didn’t pick up in the straight. The ground may have been a bit dead for him, but it was a good run.”
Third Realm, conqueror of Adayar in Lingfield Derby Trial, was a further neck back in fifth for Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni.
The rider said: “It was a pleasing run. I followed the winner through and he just got a little bit tight for room, but he stayed on quite well and didn’t disgrace himself.
“He’s still a young horse, very lightly raced and it was a nice run.”
Bolshoi Ballet was sent off the 11-8 market leader, but could finish only seventh as the sole representative for Aidan O’Brien this year.
The Ballydoyle handler said: “He just ran a bit lifeless. What the reason was, I’m not sure.
“It doesn’t work every day. That’s the way life is.
“I don’t want to make excuses because I don’t want to take away from the other horses.
“He was in the perfect position. He wants nice ground and maybe that was the reason.”
It was subsequently found at a post-race examination by the veterinary officer that the Galileo colt had been struck into on his right-hind in the early stages of the race.
Tom Marquand, rider of eighth-placed Youth Spirit, thought his mount had found the 12-furlong trip a stretch.
He said: “He probably melted a bit just beforehand – we travelled beautifully throughout and (they) probably just galloped the legs off him over a mile and a half on this ground.
“We’ll probably come back a couple of furlongs and hopefully see him back to his best.”
John Leeper was well fancied for Ed Dunlop and Frankie Dettori, but he trailed home in ninth place on his first try at the distance.
Dettori said: “It was just too far for him at this stage of his life. We’ll go back to a mile and a quarter.”
The Mark Johnston-trained Gear Up set the early gallop and was in front until the two-furlong marker, but eventually beaten a total of 21 lengths.
Jockey Ben Curtis said: “My race was very straightforward. We jumped out, led and everything went perfectly. I thought I’d pick up nicely heading into the straight and then I just lacked maybe for a gear up the home straight.”
Southern Lights finished last of the 11 contenders on what was just his fourth outing for trainer Joseph O’Brien.
Rider Declan McDonogh said: “He was disappointing. He got a lot of bumping around and had a tough trip, but he probably just wasn’t ready for the experience.”