Horse Racing

Continents collide as Derby prevails under duress

EPSOM DOWNS, UK–Asked to hold up nine fingers to indicate his number of wins in the Derby, Aidan O’Brien laughed as he deliberately counted each finger. Two more—and let’s face it, he’s 53 years old and shows no signs of stopping—and he’ll need to borrow someone else’s hand to keep counting.

Just last weekend, O’Brien’s record for Group or Class 1 wins hit 400. It’s now 401 and the most recent addition is arguably the most important to the racing world. larger car. The 243 runs of the previous Derby were not without controversy. From the 1844 Running Rein rider to the tragic 1913 death of heartbroken woman Emily Davison, who threw herself under the King’s horse, the history of the Derby is filled with fraud and scandal.

Of course, in 2020, it was a month late with almost no one in Epsom to watch the Serpentine (Ire) procession as Covid wreaked havoc on sporting events. This year, with the racecourse and surrounding areas reinforced with a ring of steel barricades and uninformed officers, it happened again, in 2 minutes 33.88 seconds, largely completed without incident, but under great duress during construction.

The Serpentine offered an important reminder, like the 40/1 hit Wings Of Eagles (Fr) had taken three years earlier, that it is never wise to remove an opponent from Ballydoyle when speaking to the race is still rated higher than any other product from the Coolmore team. In Auguste Rodin (Ire), we had an all-clear winner, although even he arrived here with a question mark hovering over his head after a bitter disappointment over 2,000 Guineas. The sages have always said the Guineas are the best Derby challenge, but perhaps that has more to do with a horse that finished fourth than a horse that has been beaten 22 distances in twelfth place. .

Auguste Rodin also carried on his shoulders the burden of expectation from the early days. According to O’Brien, one of the only 24 ponies in the final season of the hugely influential Japanese Deep Impact (Jpn), he was once the subject of super hype Ryan Moore. , full praise.

“The hype of expectations was immediate,” he said. “He has been measured, measured, measured all the way, and he is on top of the measurements all the way. And then he went to Ballydoyle and I remember Ryan sitting on top of him in February when he was two years old and saying, ‘This is so special’. And then the bar got even higher.

O’Brien continued, “I think this is the most important horse [for Coolmore] ever, because he came out of Rhododendron, one of the best mares, if not the best, Galileo, and he was probably the best Japanese stallion ever, and we know what happens after the Japanese crossbreed, and we know about our own breeding, and him after connecting the two of them together. This horse has it all: he has temperament, he has movement, he has personality.

“I think he’s the most important horse we’ve ever had because he’s bringing two continents together. We always say it is the most special horse we have in Ballydoyle.”

Galileo fans may have something to say about that last statement, but, as O’Brien pointed out, his first Derby winner had a role as Auguste Rodin’s assassin in the series. a cross we’ve seen work well in his fellow Ballydoyle Classic winners Saxon Warrior (Jpn) and Snowfall (Jpn). A similar blend will be on display Sunday at the Prix du Jockey Club as Moore collaborates with Continuity (Jpn), who is the other son of Sunday Silent in the Cry of the Heart (Jpn) and in addition to Fluff (Ire), a half-sister. ARRIVE Saxon WarriorDam Maybe (Ire).

Coolmore’s mating planners clearly weren’t afraid to patronize the best Shadai’s steed list had to offer. Speaking shortly after the Derby, Coolmore’s MV Magnier said, “Aidan is very confident in winning. He thought he was going to bounce off the ground, and again he got it right.

“I just want to say a big thank you to the Yoshida family for everything they’ve done. They took good care of us and our horses and we are very grateful to them.”

Magnier also mentioned the extensive – and costly – security operation that took place in Epsom over two days to protect participants from the actions of the protesters.

“The work that the Jockey Club and Nevin Truesdale have done is a great achievement for them,” he said. “They did a great job and they worked really hard and I’m glad nothing happened.”

It was a sentiment widely echoed by those at Epsom on Saturday. A desperate situation is that one of Britain’s most historic sporting events, enjoyed by tens of thousands of people live and by millions more on television, could be demanded money by a small group of activists. Redeemed with dubious claims to be in the best interests of animals From the heart. Apart from the Covid year, this is the most silent Derby in living memory, when a collective breathless match took place in the Downs as the athletes ran to the finish line.

As a precaution, the horses were saddled in the stables of the racecourse and in the parade ring for a shorter period of time than usual. The circumstances are understandable, but it’s a shame for those gathered at the parade ring, who enjoy spending time observing the physical and, often more important, demeanor of runners before the biggest challenge of their lives. their youth.

After being arrested in raids on homes early in the morning, Derby day appeared to go smoothly and despite many complaints about early start times to avoid clashing with the FA Cup final , but in the end this is probably a mercy, so don’t prolong the anxiety.

A loud cheer rang out as the 14 runners ran out of the gate on time, but within seconds a male protester somehow breached the security fence along the tracks on both sides of the road. race to rush to the track. Moments later, a woman tried to jump over the fence from the stands, but, like her predecessor, was quickly lowered and handcuffed.

In the winner’s round at the end of the presentation, Brian Finch, racecourse president and Epsom local, congratulated those connected with Auguste Rodin and admitted with great relief that The race went on without any major incidents.

“The pressure comes from knowing you have an underlying problem but not quite knowing where the problem will manifest itself, so you keep planning multiple events, which will help,” he says. put pressure on the group.

“But I applaud everyone for coming together. It was effective. Everyone wanted to make sure the 244th Derby actually took place and happened as close to 13.30pm as possible and we got there.

“Our teams will remain vigilant until the end of the day. We owe it to the sport to protect the Derby and all those who came before us. They have carried us through 243 years, through the wars and everything else that happens between them.”

Advertising banners on and off the field boasted of the Derby being ‘historic, incomparable, eternal’. The first two are undeniable. The third, we hope, is a requirement we won’t have to give up anytime soon.


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