Group 1 reflections from Epsom – The Derby

The two day Epsom fixture last weekend brought us two wide margin classic winners and a cracking duel for the Coronation Cup. We managed to pick out placed horses each-way in the Classics with Divinely (20/1) and Hurricane Lane (6/1). But how did those races rate against previous renewals? We take a look back at the three feature contests.

DERBY – Winner Adayar – Owner: Godolphin Trainer: Charlie Appleby Jockey: Adam Kirby Odds: 16/1

Unlike in 2020 when Serpentine stole a march on the field via a canny ride by Conor Mcnamara, I don’t think we can be in any doubt that the best horse on the day in ADAYAR won. This scopey individual was again slowly out of the stalls, but the smaller than usual field ensured that jockey Adam Kirby was able to take a prime position on the inside just off the lead. Hew as very lucky to be able to spot a gap on the rail at the critical point in the race 2f out, but once in front he was never in any danger of being headed.

Seen by trainer Charlie Appleby as a long-term project for the Leger, he showed enough speed over 12f to ensure he will most likely be kept to that distance for the time being, with the usual options – Irish Derby and King George an obvious next target. He still has to prove he is quick enough to cope with faster going, and those slow starts could be an issue against his elders later in the season. However given his size there is room for further improvement and hopefully we have seen an above average Derby winner.

One issue with the form is the presence of maiden MOJO STAR in second place. He had been beaten in two Newbury novice races, which hardly bodes well, but he clearly relished the step up to 12f. Connections clearly rate him though as he holds entries for the Eclipse and Arc later in the season, so perhaps he will earn our respect as the year progresses.

HURRICANE LANE ran a strange sort of race. Bustled up early to take an early position, he ran in snatches for most of the way, yet kept on pleasingly for third. Perhaps he found the undulations against him, having essentially raced on flat tracks this spring? However there is a possibility he is slightly lazy and might be a candidate for headgear – or perhaps he is simply a thorough stayer being out a multiple 2m winner.

MAC SWINEY ran a game race in fourth without ever seriously threatening. The feeling is he needs soft ground to be at his best and whilst he kept on pleasingly, whether he is a true stayer at 12f remains to be seen.

Clearly the big disappointment was BOLSHOI BALLET. Whilst he was struck into during the race, receiving a nasty cut, it is not certain whether that impacted on his performance. He seemed to be in the perfect position around Tattenham Corner, but soon cut out and we will have to see whether he simply did not get home. One thing is for sure though, he is a good deal better than that – firmer going would have helped too.

Of the others THIRD REALM ran a solid race, but looks one for Group 2/3 races in the future. ONE RULER will surely be dropped back in trip – 10f will surely prove his optimum. JOHN LEEPER was ridden to ensure he settled, but in doing so had an impossible task from the back of the field. Being ridden more prominently over a shorter trip will help him.


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