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Mr McCann puts Reds on course for 2022 Derby day

Mr McCann earned his famous footballing connections a potential day at the 2022 Derby with victory in the Cazoo Derby “Wild Card” EBF Conditions Stakes at Epsom.

Trained by Tom Dascombe, the Kodiac colt has run a string of fine races in good company this season, not least when beaten less than three lengths by Native Trail in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July Meeting.

Having started his campaign at five furlongs and never before gone beyond seven, this represented a different test altogether for a horse named after Liverpool’s press officer, Matt McCann, and owned by a group of current and former Liverpool players which includes James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Adam Lallana and England star Jordan Henderson.

His cause was helped when odds-on favourite Goldspur, who had been so impressive on his debut at Sandown, became upset in the stalls and was withdrawn. But Richard Kingscote rode a masterful race from the front on the 4-1 chance and pulled nicely clear of Austrian Theory to win by five and a half lengths, seeing out the extended mile with aplomb.

The success gives Mr McCann and his owners automatic entry to the premier Classic, although does not guarantee a run. He was given a 66-1 quote by Paddy Power.

The winning jockey told Racing TV: “He knows the drill and is very professional. Tom was confident the mile would help him, so we jumped out, got in a rhythm – and away we went.

“I thought early on maybe he was just moving a bit too well for the slower ground, but to be fair he handled the track very well and he skipped away up the straight.

“He’s progressed well – he’s danced a few dances and has had a solid year. Tom has done a great job, and it’s nice for him to pick this up – I think the extra trip is opening more doors for him. He’s a likeable horse.”

After winning with his only ride of the day, Kingscote could switch his attention to battling fuel queues before riding at Newcastle on Monday.

He added: “I’m having a reasonably quiet week this week – I’m going up to Newcastle on Monday. Hopefully I can get some diesel and get a few winners on the board!”

Arenas Del Tiempo victory means the world to Simon Dow

Simon Dow was delighted to win the John Benstead Handicap, run in memory of the late former Epsom trainer, with Arenas Del Tiempo at the Surrey course.

Dow, whose stables are close to the home of the Derby, saw his three-year-old filly run her rivals ragged under a front-running ride by Hollie Doyle.

The 5-2 favourite took the 10-furlong prize by three and a half lengths from Hackbridge.

Dow said: “This is really important to us. John did so much work to ensure the continuity of training in Epsom and worked himself on the Parliamentary Act that now works for the Downs to ensure the future of horse training in Epsom.

“For him to be commemorated with a memorial race that my filly has won is a special day for us.”

On Arenas Del Tiempo, he added: “She wears her heart on her sleeve and is a very brave filly. It is wonderful for Rob (Moss) owner for all the support he has given the industry and particularly Epsom.

“She is completely suited to this place with the twists and turns and the undulations. I’m already thinking about what can we do with her next year.”

Local owner Brian Millen cannot wait for next summer to try to secure the victory he has longed for in the Epsom Dash with Recon Mission, who bounced back to form in the Terry Mills Handicap – a race commemorating another trainer synonymous with the track.

After suffering four successive defeats since scoring at Epsom in April, the Tony Carroll-trained five year old finally got his head back in front with an all-the-way win.

The 11-4 favourite kept on in determined fashion under Ray Dawson to beat Spring Bloom by half a length, with Kimifive a head away in third.

Millen said: “He has been very unlucky in his last three runs in higher class.

“He got bashed by the winner in the Dash and Ray had to pull him back. Then he went to Goodwood and the same thing happened as the winner bashed him and he is only little.

“A small field today was perfect. He has won here over five but this is a totally different course.

“I’m an Epsom boy and I’ve lived here for 60 odd years so I love coming here. He will definitely come back for the Dash. I’ve run loads of horses in it and it would be lovely to win.”

William Buick kept himself in the hunt for a first Flat jockeys’ title with a on the Kevin Philippart De Foy-trained Smooth Talking (6-1) and New Mission (4-5 favourite) for Charlie Appleby in the Jim Ferguson Memorial EBF Maiden Stakes by a neck.

“We are in the title fight and we are working hard and trying to make every race count,” said Buick.

“I can’t see myself going somewhere for six minor rides if I had a good ride at a big meeting.

“The big days are very important and I’m very privileged in my job so that comes first, but the other winners in between also count.”

Stefano Cherchi made his first appearance at the track a winning one after delivering the Chris Dwyer-trained Sir Oliver (11-2) with a perfectly-timed run to claim the John Akehurst Handicap by a head.

The 3lb claimer said: “It’s lovely to have a winner here as it’s the Derby track. I really enjoyed it. The horse travelled well in the race and he was strong at the end.”

Captain Haddock not for catching in Amateur’s Derby

Henry Main steered Captain Haddock to a victory he is unlikely ever to forget in the Amateurs’ Derby at Epsom.

Trained by the rider’s aunt, Heather Main, Captain Haddock was a 5-1 shot to strike gold in a mile-and-a-half handicap that has previously been won by record-breaking amateurs like Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd.

Cemhaan, ridden by Matthew Ennis, was the 6-5 favourite, but he did his chances no favours by completely blowing the start, which briefly left him adrift of the field.

The market leader – owned by the rider’s parents Charles and Claire together with his godmother, Louisa Talbot – made inroads to move into contention from the home turn, but was ultimately unable to reel in Captain Haddock, with Main, 18, punching the air as he and his mount passed the post with four lengths in hand.

A picture to take pride of place in the Main family album
A picture to take pride of place in the Main family album (PA)

Main said: “I kind of felt like I was dreaming. It is the stuff of dreams. I love the horse to bits. I can’t thank my parents enough and Louisa. It is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had, put it that way.

“I got him out and he got in a nice position behind Simon’s (Walker) horse (Great Esteem) and he was flat out the whole way really.

“I thought going into the straight we would be outpaced, but he changed gear and he did it really well. He was pricking his ears going to the line and it is a bit of a dream really doing it on this course.

“My parents own the horse with Louisa Talbot and my aunt is the trainer, so it is a family affair and it feels great.

“Not until the moment I crossed the finish line did I think I had won, as I had a feeling something was going to come and get me.”

While Main can now boast a victory at Epsom Downs on his CV, his next ambition involves switching codes.

He added: “My next goal is to have a first ride over jumps. I did a lot of pony racing and had 60 rides pony racing and got the bug for it then.

“That is where it all started really. It is great my dad owns the horse and he has taught me a lot.

“This is a bit of a fairytale.”

William Muir enjoyed Coronation Cup glory earlier in the season with stable star Pyledriver – but was almost equally as thrilled to land the seven-furlong Stanley Wootton Handicap with Firepower.

Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, said of the 13-2 winner: “This means a lot and the Coronation Cup is just in front of it.

“Pyledriver is dead easy and is like driving a train and this one is not. It took every bit of thought I’ve had since starting training in 1990 to get him right and hopefully the horse can continue.

“I’m absolutely buzzing. This is the biggest feat I’ve had as he has just been a horse that has taken me time to get him to just chill out, but he has now got there.

“Coming here today after Newbury I thought ‘we are in business’. The lads that ride him have done a fantastic job on him as he is so chilled out now.

“The horse has an immense amount of ability it has just been about getting his mind right.”

Pyledriver in great heart with sights set on King George

Pyledriver is on track for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes after missing a Royal Ascot engagement to focus on the race.

The colt was last seen triumphing in Epsom’s Coronation Cup, crossing the line a neck ahead of 7-4 favourite and runner-up Al Aasy after a terrific battle.

A run in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting was considered after the victory, but trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick opted to sidestep the meeting and give the four-year-old chance to fully recuperate.

Pyledriver’s recent work has suggested to Muir that the two-week turnaround would not have been an issue, but the handler is glad that he choose to forgo the Royal meeting and prioritise his longevity throughout the season.

“After his run at Epsom I thought we’d had a hard race and I thought it (Royal Ascot) might come a bit quick, so I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to run him after a hard race,” said Muir.

“Then come confirmation time he was nearly bursting the place open and I thought ‘oh goodness, what do I do?’ – but then I thought ‘no, stick to your original plan’.

“He could have run because he was really, really fresh and well, he was jumping out of his skin.

“I think he could have taken the turnaround, but I want to space these races out because he could go anywhere and if I run him too many times in quick succession, will we get through to the Arc and those type of races at the back end of the year?

Martin Dwyer celebrates with Pyledriver
Martin Dwyer celebrates with Pyledriver (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

“I didn’t want to punish him, he’s a very good horse and I want to train him as a good horse, which I always would do with any animal.

“I don’t want to just run him in and out because he’s not here for that, he’s a very good animal.”

Pyledriver will bid for a second Group One success when he takes on the King George, run like the Coronation Cup over a mile and a half.

“At the moment he’s like a lion, we’re going to go for the King George,” Muir said.

“He’s in really good shape, he’s fresh as paint.”

Muir and Grassick’s stable star has become one of racing’s most popular success stories, something Muir attributes to the tale of his failure to sell as a foal and the underdog status he has gained from being trained by a smaller yard.

“He’s very popular because he’s very eye-catching and good looking,” he said.

“He does what he does and people like the story with a smaller stable.

“He’s a horse that wasn’t worth anything and he’s graduated to be a star performer.”

Varian retains faith in Third Realm

Roger Varian is confident Third Realm still has a “big future” ahead of him after finishing fifth in the Cazoo Derby.

The Sea The Stars colt beat Charlie Appleby’s Epsom hero Adayar when claiming top honours in the Lingfield Derby Trial last month.

That form was turned on its head on the day that mattered most, but Third Realm was not disgraced in finishing fifth – and his trainer believes there is plenty to look forward to.

“I think if everything had gone smoothly for Third Realm at Epsom, the closest he would have been is third or fourth. The winner won very well and looked a class above,” said Varian.

“I thought Third Realm ran with great credit. For a horse we thought would go round Epsom like a motorbike, he didn’t really handle things – he got a bump in the first furlong and just looked a little bit out of his comfort zone.

“He was a bit keen over the top of the hill and got a bit unbalanced round Tattenham Corner. For most of the way you couldn’t see him finishing in the frame, but he stayed on very well inside the final furlong and a half and nearly got fourth.

“I thought it was the run of a horse with a big future, but at no stage of the race watching did he look quite comfortable to me.”

Third Realm retains an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday week.

Asked whether that Group Two contest is a possible target, the trainer added: “I would have thought that would be too soon, but we’ll see how he is this week – we don’t have to decide now.”

Save a Forest performed best of the trainer's runners in the Oaks
Save a Forest performed best of the trainer’s runners in the Oaks (John Walton/PA)

Varian saddled three runners in the Cazoo Oaks last Friday, with outsider Save A Forest faring best of them in fourth.

“It was no surprise to us that Save A Forest ran well. She’s improved with every start and she would have been suited by conditions,” said the Newmarket handler.

“I think she was a shade unlucky not to be closer. With all the field going over to the far rail, and her being on the rail but towards the rear, it meant up the straight she didn’t have a clear run. She ran great.”

Zeyaadah and Teona both ran below expectations, with Varian of the opinion both floundered in the rain-softened ground.

He added: “Zeyaadah ran like a non-stayer on that ground. She moved into it nicely in the straight and didn’t get home. I think it’s a misconception that she wants soft ground – I think she wants much better ground.

“Teona definitely wants better ground. Her mother Ambivalent liked it fast, and I should think she will be most comfortable on a faster surface.

“We’ll give her a bit of time – she’s a big filly. I’ve not lost faith in her. I’ve always touted her to be a nice filly and I’m sure she will be, but we won’t rush her back to the track.

“We’ll take a view on her in a couple of weeks’ time and see how she’s come out of the race.”

Al Aasy team to let dust settle following Coronation defeat

Connections of Al Aasy have yet to firm up plans for his next outing following his narrow defeat in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old was a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group One level, having dominated his rivals in the successive Group Three races at Newbury this spring.

The Sea The Stars colt looked sure to prevail after coming from the rear to lead in the final furlong, but was ultimately beaten a neck by the rallying Pyledriver, with the pair pulling clear of dual Group One winner Japan in third.

Angus Gold, racing manager for Al Aasy’s owners Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, said: “Having gone a neck up, it was disappointing not to maintain it. Anyway, he ran a good race and they were seven lengths clear.

“If you took the winner out he’d have won on the bridle and everybody would be saying what a good horse he was.

“We’ll regroup and see how he comes out of it and then make a plan.”

Al Aasy holds an entry in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot next week, while the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the end of July will also be considered.

Gold also raised the possibility of Al Aasy dropping back in trip before the end of the year.

He added: “The one thing I would say in the horse’s defence is they’ve always said to me he shows a lot of speed in his work. He got outstayed the other day. Whether he didn’t quite home, I’m not sure.

“There is a possibility he might come back to a mile and a quarter at some stage. I think we need to run him over a mile and a half on a more conventional track, hopefully on less severe ground, and see where we are.

“I would imagine it (Hardwicke Stakes) would be too soon, but I haven’t spoken to William about it yet. It will be that or the King George, or we decide to drop him back in trip and go for something shorter.”

Later on the same afternoon the Shadwell team had high hopes of claiming Classic glory with Zeyaadah in the Cazoo Oaks, but Roger Varian’s filly ultimately disappointed behind the brilliant Snowfall.

Zeyaadah (left) was well beaten in the Oaks
Zeyaadah (left) was well beaten in the Oaks (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She certainly didn’t get home, but having said that she wouldn’t have won it at a mile and a quarter,” said Gold.

“It would have taken something to win the race – she (Snowfall) was thoroughly impressive.

“My own feeling is I’ve never thought of her as an Oaks filly. I think back to our previous Oaks winners and I would have been surprised to have put her in that category.

“I think she’s a very nice, tough filly. We’ll bring her back to a mile and a quarter for a Group Three or Group Two, again on a more conventional track.

“We’ll look for options later in the summer. She can always go back up in class if she merits it.”

Appleby eyes King George for Adayar

The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot is the likely next target for Cazoo Derby hero Adayar.

Runner-up in the Lingfield Derby Trial, the Frankel colt went one better at Epsom on Saturday under Adam Kirby – providing trainer Charlie Appleby with his second victory in the premier Classic, following the success of Masar in 2018.

The Moulton Paddocks handler reports Adayar to have taken his exertions well and is hoping he can become the first horse since Galileo in 2001 to complete the Derby-King George double on July 24.

“He has come out of the race great,” said Appleby.

“He went on the sea walker yesterday morning and he has been out for a jog this morning and has been turned out in the paddock, and he has shown his wellness. All signs are good so far.

“Without rubber stamping anything, the discussions taking place at the moment are that we will give this horse a bit more time and look towards going to a King George with him.

“I think timing-wise it suits him, and also we will have tested our mettle a bit against the older horses.

“After that we can see what he is like against the older horses, and if he happens to win a King George we can work back from an Arc. If he gets beat in a King George then we revert back to our original plan – which was going down the St Leger route.

“I think, personally, looking from the outside having won neither race, I would rather pinpoint one – because we all know in the autumn it is a big ask to do a St Leger and then an Arc.”

Appleby has also begun making plans for Hurricane Lane and One Ruler, who finished third and sixth respectively behind Adayar at Epsom.

Hurricane Lane (left) winning the Dante Stakes at York
Hurricane Lane (left) winning the Dante Stakes at York (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hurricane Lane is bound for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on June 26, while One Ruler could drop back in trip for the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot next week.

Appleby added: “I was delighted with Hurricane Lane. He was the horse I thought in the paddock looked magnificent – and I thought he took the preliminaries very well.

“What did surprise me, but we took it as a positive, is that he was very much learning on the job there. He showed his inexperience. Going into the Derby, I thought he was one run short of what I would have liked.

“I’m delighted with how he has come out of it, and the plan is to head straight to Ireland.

“We will drop One Ruler back to 10 furlongs. James (Doyle) said he didn’t handle the track particularly well, but he didn’t see it out either. We might look at something like the Hampton Court – we will see what his wellbeing is like.

“He would carry a penalty in that from his Autumn Stakes success, but we could look at something like that – or wait for an Eclipse.”

Monday Musings: Epsom Wonders

Friday morning 6 a.m. and I was keeping one of an increasing number of early-morning assignments with my good friend Steve Gilbey, long-term right-hand man of Raymond Tooth, writes Tony Stafford. He habitually – for Steve is very much a man of routine – starts his morning at crack of dawn at the North Audley Street, Mayfair, Grosvenor’s Café just along the road from Selfridge’s.

His first unofficial action is to help the early-morning setting out on the generous pavement of nine round tables and 36 chairs, using his boxing and security-man strength to speed up the operation.

But as we approached on Friday, there was a difference. A nicely-tanned, fit-looking gentleman came towards us, beaming at Steve, interrupting his own initialising that first task of the day at the café.

“How are you, my friend?” he asked. Steve had often mentioned the owner over the years but only on our previous visit the week before to my enquiry, said: “No, it’s been ages since I’ve seen him; he’s been stuck in South Africa because of Covid”.

So here we were on the morning of the Oaks and I was being introduced to the café owner, Mr Bernard Kantor. It wasn’t exactly a year before, more like eleven months, that Mr Kantor was standing alongside The Queen on the presentation dais for the Investec Derby as she gave the trophy to the Coolmore partners of shock winner Serpentine.

Co-founder and long-term managing director of the bank which had for ten years sponsored the entire Derby meeting, he had since retired upon reaching the age of 70 – you would guess ten years less when you see him.

So here was a highly-successful man actually enjoying the physical release of helping his bijou business – “I love it, it is so old school”, he says – start its day.

We had a pleasant chat, as racing people usually do, with the news that he had already been speaking to his trainer William Haggas and expected a call from him before we left after our toast and in my case some very tasty bacon in between.

As we went out, he thrust a napkin with an email address and imparted the news that Sans Pretention was fancied for the 3.00 race at Catterick that afternoon. When I got a chance to look up the race I discovered not only was the Haggas-trained three-year-old a daughter of Galileo but that she was owned and bred by a certain Bernard Kantor.

Naturally she won and this went along as just another of the ridiculously-fortuitous encounters I have experienced in my long life – even longer than the man who sponsored the Derby and who in 2018 dreamt on the morning of the race he might be winning it himself.

Haggas-trained Young Rascal, a son of Intello, had just come out on top in the Chester Vase, beating Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee, but at Epsom while Dee Ex Bee filled the same position behind Masar, Young Rascal was back in seventh.

He won two more Group 3 races, both at Newbury, and a Kempton Listed to make his career tally five wins from ten starts and then he was passed on to Australian interests to continue his career.  There is clearly a strong bond between owner and trainer and Kantor describes Lester Piggott’s son-in-law as “the perfect gentleman, someone who brings great credit to his profession and to racing”.

Obviously, there was little time to sample the benefit of the experiences of a man whose husbandry of his company even though he had basically lived in London for almost a quarter of a century, maintained its South African roots, always with the theme of inclusiveness of the entire population of his homeland.

But he did offer one nice moment. One year as they were erecting the presentation platform for the Derby, one of his staff showed him the three steps he had sourced up which the monarch would climb to reach the presentation area.

“I said, “can you get two taller steps?” and he asked me why. “Wait and see”, I told him. “So when the Queen came to the top step of two I had to bend down to reach her hand to help her up. As I did, right behind me a massive banner depicting “Investec” came into view. I thought he knew why then”, said Bernard.

By the way, I can’t wait to go back and try to get in between the two powerful senior citizens at least to take a couple of chairs out and next Tuesday is already in my diary.  As I said, the bacon is delicious and so too are the lunches according to Steve. Grosvenor’s is open until five p.m. so if you want to sit in the sunshine just up the road from Selfridge’s, and sample “the life” I can heartily recommend it.

**

Ten hours after we left the café, a filly won the Cazoo Oaks by six lengths more than Shergar had won the Derby; four more than St Jovite’s margin in his Irish Derby and only second in terms of a Classic-winning distance in an attributed leading racing nation to Secretariat’s 31-length romp in the Belmont Stakes.

Big Red, though, was unbackable and faced only four vastly-inferior non-staying opponents already worn out by taking him on in the Derby and Preakness. Snowfall wasn’t even her stable’s first choice, that distinction going to beaten 1,000 Guineas favourite, Santa Barbara.

Two starts before the Oaks, Snowfall had finished eighth at 50-1, beating only two home in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket although if you have another look at the race you will hear the commentator calling her a close third in her pink cap.

But that was the day the caps between her and better-fancied stable-companion Mother Earth were inadvertently switched, so the white cap, intended for Mother Earth ended on Snowfall who was just hunted up once victory was out of the question.

The Aidan O’Brien team were given a disciplinary sanction for the mix-up but events for the two fillies in 2021 have been ample compensation. Mother Earth, ridden by Frankie Dettori as Ryan Moore partnered the much-lauded favourite Santa Barbara, won the 1,000 Guineas and on Friday, Snowfall, also with Dettori as Moore was again more-or-less obliged to stay with the now Oaks favourite but Santa Barbara never held up much hope as Dettori landed on his feet on an O’Brien Group 1 winner.

There was a race in between the 50-1 no-show and the best Oaks winner of all the years I’ve been watching racing and probably any in the previous two centuries. That was the Musidora when Moore made all the running on the 14-1 shot and just when it looked as though the better-fancied challengers would be coming to get her at the end of the ten and a bit furlongs she opened out again. Most observers on the day thought she might struggle to repeat it at Epsom.

I mentioned last week that O’Brien horses could suddenly make massive strides from two to three. Already up from an official 90 after the Fillies’ Mile, she was raised to 108 after York and with the look from that race and in her pedigree that stamina would not be a problem, she had to come into the Oaks argument.

But this was not an argument. Projecting the late York surge away from the trio that were chasing her at York another almost two furlongs on a more testing track and on rain-drenched ground clearly produced extra dimensions of superiority.

In the last furlong and a half, perfectly in tune with his filly, once Dettori grabbed the stands rails with a little tickle to the long-term leader Mystery Angel, the margin stretched exponentially. As with Secretariat who, once his far-inferior rivals were stone cold, put in an exhibition for the Belmont Park crowd, so did Snowfall in leafy Surrey.

If the Epsom finish line had been another furlong on, 30 lengths would have been a realistic margin. How Snowfall can lose the Arc off bottom weight with all the allowances against her elders and male opponents is hard to imagine. I wonder how daring Dominic Gardner-Hill will be in rating her after this?

We all expected, especially once Aidan removed his other five acceptors from the path of favourite Bolshoi Ballet, his own ninth Derby to go with the same record number of Oaks (Oakses? Ed.) looked almost a case of going down and coming back.

But while that can happen occasionally in a Derby, there are always potential pitfalls. Afterwards everyone was musing on why the favourite had so clearly under-performed. It was only as the generous praise for hard-working Adam Kirby, winner on Charlie Appleby’s well-deserved second score in the race with strong staying Adayar, that Aidan O’Brien was tweeting a ghastly-looking wound on the favourite’s off-hind leg where he had been struck into in the early scrimmaging.

Hopefully he can be brought back to full health to challenge Adayar later in the season, though maybe their future diverging distance requirements might make that unlikely.

Not 24 hours later, with last year’s Dewhurst winner St Mark’s Basilica annexing the Prix Du Jockey Club yesterday in such emphatic fashion to add to his earlier French 2000 Guineas success, Coolmore and O’Brien instantly re-established themselves at the top of the three-year-old colts’ division, too. It all makes for an exciting year.

Adam Kirby is such a nice bloke. One day coming back from a race meeting up north, one of my tyres blew but luckily it was close to the services on the A14. I limped into the garage and luckily noticed Big Paulie, formerly Adam’s driver, who had just stopped to re-fuel.

Paulie looked into the car, spoke to a bare-chested and clearly sleepy passenger who hastily pulled on some clothes and came out to look with Paulie at the damage. Within minutes they had changed the tyre with minimal help from the driver and we were all on our way. As I reiterate, very nice bloke is Mr Kirby!

Godolphin’s second win in four years started an astonishing day, rounded off by Essential Quality, who made the Belmont Stakes – the third leg of the US Triple Crown – his sixth win in seven career starts.

Before yesterday, Essential Quality, a son of Tapit and, like Adayar a home-bred Godolphin colt, suffered that sole defeat when fourth to the controversial Medina Spirit, absent from the field last night and with his trainer Bob Baffert now under a two-year ban from having runners at Churchill Downs.

Even if Medina Spirit is disqualified, as seems inevitable after two positive drug tests, the latter in a laboratory Baffert chose to carry out the test, there is no prospect of Essential Quality being the beneficiary beyond being promoted to third. Had he won the Derby, I’m sure trainer Brad Cox would have run him back in the Preakness.

In any case it was a memorable weekend for Godolphin, but even if they win ten more Derbys and three US Triple Crowns, it will never wash away for me the memory of a horse and jockey in perfect synchronicity slicing up the last furlong in the biggest show of superiority I have ever witnessed in a championship Flat race.

Cut that hindered Bolshoi Ballet Derby chance not expected to sideline colt for long

Bolshoi Ballet was reported to be very sore on Sunday by Aidan O’Brien after sustaining a cut on his right-hind leg early on in the Cazoo Derby.

Though the injury is almost certain to have contributed to his ultimately disappointing run, it is not thought to be serious and should only set him back between seven and 10 days.

The Galileo colt, who was sent off the 11-8 favourite at Epsom on the back of two impressive Leopardstown victories, was in the right position to make a challenge but he could not go through with his effort and was beaten 17 lengths in seventh place behind Adayar.

“He was very sore this morning. We played back the videos of the race. At the top of the hill he had it, so he obviously got it in the first 150 yards,” said O’Brien.

“Usually with a horse if that happens late in a race it doesn’t affect them much because their blood is up, but this happened very early so it suggests it was a good reason for a disappointing run.

“It was just off the tendon at the back.

“We’ll see how he is for a few days. The lads thought seven to 10 days is when we should be able to do something again with him.”

Dettori full of praise for Derby hero Kirby

Frankie Dettori was delighted to receive Derby-winning jockey Adam Kirby’s thanks for his part in the unlikely sequence of events which resulted in Epsom glory on Adayar.

Kirby, who stormed to a four-and-a-half-length victory on the apparent Godolphin third-string, began Cazoo Derby week planning his challenge instead on the well-touted John Leeper.

He lost that ride to Dettori, however, after Aidan O’Brien decided to field just one of his six possible challengers for Saturday’s Classic – leaving stable jockey Ryan Moore to partner the ultimately unplaced favourite Bolshoi Ballet, and the Italian newly available.

John Leeper’s owner responded by swiftly snapping up Dettori. But Kirby was not left without a Derby mount for long as Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby updated his bookings by switching him to Adayar, in place of dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy.

Adayar was the least-fancied of Appleby’s three contenders but proved the best of his generation at Epsom, becoming the first this century to win the great race from stall one – and ending an incredible week for Kirby on an undoubted career high with his first Classic at the age of 32.

As Dettori reflected on contrasting fortunes, having himself been beaten more than 20 lengths into ninth on John Leeper, he described the “great story” of the 2021 Derby.

Asked about the aftermath of Kirby and Adayar’s victory, on Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday, Dettori said: “He thanked me for taking him off John Leeper.

“I was partly responsible for him winning the Derby.”

Kirby spoke with an admirable combination of clarity and emotion following the race, having admitted beforehand that the disappointment of being taken off John Leeper had briefly been hard to take.

Dettori added: “Adam was shell-shocked yesterday. It was great to see his big smile, and I thought his interview was amazing…it nearly had me in tears.

“The Derby was run at a good pace, and the best won on the day.

“Adam gave him a fantastic ride – and the further they were going, the further away Adam was going.

“It’s a great story, great for Charlie, Godolphin, for everybody. I thought he was a good Derby winner.”

Dettori is confident John Leeper will have many better days ahead – but, in the immediate term at least, over a shorter trip.

“He’s quite a free-running sort, so I spent most of the race trying to get him settled,” he said.

“So I advised to bring him back to a mile and a quarter. He’s a good horse, but he wasn’t ready for this kind of test at the moment.

“It was very plain and obvious that he didn’t get home at all.”

Epsom’s two-day meeting was nonetheless another memorable success for Dettori, who broke new ground at the age of 50 by steering O’Brien’s Snowfall to Oaks victory on Friday by a record-breaking margin of 16 lengths.

Snowfall and Frankie Dettori were record-breaking winners in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom
Snowfall and Frankie Dettori were record-breaking winners in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

It was also his 21st win in a British Classic, equalling the historic achievement of Fred Archer – dating back 135 years.

“I’m very proud of it, of course – 30 years of being in the sport, and it’s a big number,” added Dettori.

“Snowfall was breathtaking. It goes without saying they went too fast the first bit.

“She travelled at ease, enjoyed the ground – and had everything beat at the three (furlong pole). It is very unusual for a Classic – they’re very hard to win, (but) I had the race won at Tattenham Corner.

“When I got on the fence she took off. I could probably have squeezed another couple of lengths out of her if I’d pushed her out. It was an amazing performance.”

Dettori envisages an ambitious plan for Snowfall to try to follow in the hoofprints of Enable, whom he famously rode to Oaks success in 2017 and then victories against colts and her elders as a three-year-old – culminating in the first of her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe wins.

He said: “I spoke to Aidan about it and I said ‘with all the allowances she will get in the future she will be very hard to beat’.

“Enable did it for three years in a row. Snowfall is just starting – but when you have a filly of this calibre you’ve got to go for the big races.

Victory in the 2017 Oaks was just the start of the Enable-Dettori story
Victory in the 2017 Oaks was just the start of the Enable-Dettori story (Adam Davy/PA)

“I’m sure they’re going to make a huge plan, and it goes without saying that the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the season – with the fillies’ allowance – will be a prime target.”

Before then, Dettori will focus next on his “favourite week” of the year, at Royal Ascot – including a string of prospective big-race chances for John and Thady Gosden, and American trainer Wesley Ward.

“In an hour’s time, I’ going to ride (Commonwealth Cup favourite) Campanelle (work) for Wesley,” he said on Sunday morning.

“So already, we’re gearing up to Royal Ascot.

“We’ll have a pretty big team for John Gosden. The only thing left to fill in is all those handicaps – but we’ll tackle them when we get the entries.

“Royal Ascot is my favourite week. I love it – it’s why we work so hard every morning, to get horses to Ascot

“Now the Derby and Oaks are gone, it’s full steam ahead for the Royal meeting.”

Connections of Mojo Star so proud of huge effort in Derby

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.”

Derby delight for bookies as Adayar scoops Epsom honours

Bookmakers were struggling to contain their delight after Adayar stormed to Cazoo Derby success at Epsom.

Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet was sent off the red-hot 11-8 favourite and although seemingly in the ideal position approaching the business end of the mile-and-a-half showpiece, he could only manage a well-beaten seventh under Ryan Moore.

Others fancied contenders that failed to make an impact were Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Mac Swiney and John Leeper, the mount of Frankie Dettori.

Adding further joy for the layers was 50-1 chance Mojo Star finishing second to the 16-1 winner.

Bookmakers shared Adam Kirby's delight at the Derby result
Bookmakers shared Adam Kirby’s delight at the Derby result (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Coral’s David Stevens said: “The Derby is always the biggest betting race of the Flat season, and going into this year’s renewal, two horses emerged as the most popular with punters, favourite Bolshoi Ballet and Frankie Dettori’s mount, John Leeper.

“But neither could land a blow once the stalls opened, and although Adayar attracted some late support, his victory was still very much in our favour.”

For Ladbrokes, Nicola McGeady said: “Adam Kirby is the toast of Ladbrokes this afternoon after landing the Derby on Adayar. Every horse in this year’s renewal attracted support at some stage, but Adayar was the best result in the book.”

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield added: “The winner didn’t go unsupported each-way at fancy prices, but despite that and Mac Swiney finishing fourth not being ideal with our extra place, it was still a good result for us.”

Looking to the future, Coral make Adayar the 4-1 favourite for the St Leger, while Ladbrokes quote the son of Frankel at 8-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Kirby stars as Adayar powers to Derby glory

Adayar sprang a 16-1 surprise as he came home a wide-margin winner of the Cazoo Derby under a jubilant Adam Kirby at Epsom.

Trained by Charlie Appleby and only ridden by Kirby after he lost the ride on John Leeper to Frankie Dettori, the Godolphin-owned son of Frankel shot clear in the final furlong to give his handler a second win after Masar in 2018.

Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star, a 50-1 chance, ran a huge race to be four and a half lengths away in second, with the winner’s stablemate Hurricane Lane another three and a quarter lengths back in third.

Gear Up set the early gallop, with Kirby on his heels aboard Adayar and Youth Spirit also prominent in the early stages.

Hot favourite Bolshoi Ballet was also towards the head of the field, settled in fourth on the outside, while the well-fancied John Leeper was restrained in last place by Dettori until the field reached Tattenham Corner.

Gear Up started to drop away with two furlongs to run, allowing Kirby a run up the inside rail and he soon put daylight between himself and the field.

Mojo Star finished well from off the pace, with Hurricane Lane also keeping on at the one pace for minor honours, but Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet and the Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper were both ultimately well-beaten.

Kirby was struggling to comprehend his achievement following the race.

He said: “There’s been ups and downs, it’s racing, but when it comes to Charlie Appleby, he’s a top man. I can’t thank him enough. He’s a real gentleman and a great trainer. It’s quite unbelievable really – I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

“It’s a Derby. He ran well in the Lingfield Derby Trial and that was obviously good form – we can all be wiser after the event.

“I got in (on the rail) and luckily the horse was brave enough to go through with it – he galloped up to the line and out through it.

“It’s a marvellous day. I hope my mother was watching.”

Appleby admitted he had his doubts about Adayar tackling the Derby, but Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed was keen to let the colt have his Classic chance.

Trainer Charlie Appleby celebrates with the trophy at Epsom
Trainer Charlie Appleby celebrates with the trophy at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

The trainer said: “I’m delighted for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Team Godolphin, being a home-bred as well and Frankel having his first Derby winner.

“I’m delighted for Adam. He knows him as well as anyone as he broke all three of the runners in.

“To win the way he has done, he’s stamped his authority there among the three-year-old middle-distance horses. We’ll just take a breath, let the dust settle and regroup. It will be interesting to see what the boys say about the other pair (Hurricane Run and One Ruler, who was sixth) as well.

“I had a conversation with His Highness on Wednesday and I sort of put it up there that Adayar would be more of a staying horse and, thankfully, he put me straight back where I should be and said ‘no Charlie, there’s only one Derby and you need to stay in the Derby’.”

Adam Kirby celebrates at Epsom
Adam Kirby celebrates at Epsom (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

Oisin Murphy had been asked to partner Adayar, but given Appleby’s long-standing relationship with Kirby, he changed the riding plans.

Appleby said: “Adam is a huge part of the team, he’s been with us since I started and does a lot on the racing side, breaks some of our horses in. I have to say Oisin was very professional when he took the news.

“Once Adam was available, I was always going to offer the ride to him, and Oisin said ‘I know what you’re going to say and I understand’, so a big thanks to him for being a true sportsman.”

Appleby admitted he felt Adayar might be more suited to a stamina test.

He said: “They all looked great and were training well and I couldn’t give a negative to any of them coming in, but I felt one horse was going to be a more of a Leger horse and that was him – I’m not saying we won’t see him there yet.

“He’s a big horse and I wouldn’t say we’re going to rush to anything yet. I think we’ll take this on and just sit back – they’re nice discussions to have of where we go next.”

Masar won the Derby three years ago for Appleby
Masar won the Derby three years ago for Appleby (Adam Davy/PA)

The trainer believes his first Derby win three years ago provided some valuable insight ahead of a second success.

He added: “When you’re in the position I’m in and have the horses I have in your care, the expectations are always there and when you have your first Derby winner it’s a surreal moment and there’s also a sort of sense of relief that you’ve ticked off one of the boxes of what you’re employed to do.

“So coming into today’s Derby, everyone was a bit more relaxed – but as I always say, unless you’ve driven a Ferrari you don’t know what one is like, and until you’ve won a Derby you don’t really know what sort of horse you need to win a Derby.

“So thankfully we’re in a position now to learn what horses are needed and we have a great team sourcing horses for us to train.”

Dash delight for Williams and Egan with Mokaatil

Mokaatil was a surprise 25-1 winner of the World Pool “Dash” Handicap for trainer Ian Williams and jockey David Egan.

The five-furlong contest was as fast and furious as ever, with Son And Sannie blazing the early trail down the middle of the track before his stride just started to shorten reaching the final furlong.

Mokaatil was just hitting top gear at that point and once he assumed the lead, he stretched right out to win by a length and a half.

Only Spoofing took second, with Stone Of Destiny third.

Egan said: “It’s a lovely way to break the duck. It’s my first Dash, so it’s brilliant.

“It’s been a little while coming. I’ve been riding here since I was a 7lb claimer without managing to come home in front, so hopefully they’ll come like London buses from now on!

“He’s a horse that’s been running over six and seven furlongs. He was able to jump the gates well and get a position without me having to put him under too much pressure for the first half of the race. He went way past the line and he’d have no trouble going back up to six.”

Williams admitted he was not certain the Epsom five furlongs would suit his charge, who has also won over six in the past.

He said: “It was a bold move really and we weren’t sure we’d done the right thing, but when the rain came that was going to help him a bit and he’s put up probably a career-best performance, which was great.

“The gentlemen that own him enjoy their racing and we spoke today about coming here and enjoying the moment, see how we go, and they’ve walked away with the winner of the Dash. It’s fantastic, we’re all happy.”

He added: “David did a very good job of getting an early position, he kept him in the race when he could have been taken off his feet and, to be fair, he finished very strongly, like a horse who does stay a bit further.

“I just thought if we were running over this sort of trip, he’s going to want every bit of help he can, he’s not going to be pulling too hard so (the blinkers) worked a treat today.”

“I’d love to say this has been in the book for the last six months and it’s a big plan, but I think we’ve been very fortunate with the way the race has been run and he’s run very well, so we’ll take him home and see what we do next – and what the handicapper does next.”

Williams and Egan made it a sprint double as Ejtilaab landed the closing Cazoo Handicap over six furlongs.

Sent off the 3-1 favourite, the five-year-old fended grabbed the lead in the shadow of the post to beat Muscika a neck, on a day that also saw Egan partner 50-1 shot Mojo Star to second place in the Cazoo Derby.

Williams said: “It was a smart enough display. A friend of a friend said run this horse over six as he will really enjoy it.

“They went very hard up front and I was confident from about two out that he would pick them up as you knew he would stay.

“It is a tough race to win this race. It is a bit strange this ground today and I don’t know how the form will hold up, but you can do no more than win.

“There is the Stewards’ Cup, but I was thinking more of an Ayr Gold Cup for him as he will get his ground and it will be a test of stamina with a horse that can hold a position early on.

“I’m used to winning three-mile chases around Newton Abbot on a Saturday and I’ve now won two races on Derby day, which is something else and quite exceptional.”

Oh This Is Us delivers last-gasp Diomed win

Oh This Is Us got up right on the line to narrowly Century Dream a third victory in the Cazoo Diomed Stakes.

The latter was dropping in class for a Group Three contest he won in 2018 and 2020 – and was always in the vanguard as Marie’s Diamond led the field along.

When James Doyle kicked on Simon and Ed Crisford’s 2-1 joint-favourite it looked to be a race-winning move, after Frankie Dettori and Duke Of Hazzard found themselves stuck down on the rail.

But the Richard Hannon-trained Oh This Is Us picked up smartly for Tom Marquand once he got out and saw daylight, and as he edged relentlessly closer, he just got there to win by a nose at 18-1.

Hannon said: “He’s my favourite (horse in the yard) and has been for some time.

“You never know when he’s going to pop up – he won at 66-1 at Ascot (in April).

“He’s never won a Group race before, so although there’s a Derby today, that’s probably mine!

“He’s won for something like eight different jockeys and Tom has won about seven on him – he’s just been a star.”

Considering future plans, he added: “He’s in the Royal Hunt Cup (at Royal Ascot), but we’ll find our way around the big meetings, like today, and be very kind to him.

“He deserved that today and it might set him up as a stallion.

“He drove the horse box here today and probably won’t retire until he’s 25!”