Reflecting on last year’s Epsom Derby

There are few races on the British flat racing calendar more iconic than the prestigious Derby — it’s one of the biggest races in the entirety of the sport, in fact. And, it’s just a matter of weeks until the premier Classic of the flat season takes centre stage at the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey for the 2022 renewal.

Her Majesty might be officially celebrating her Platinum Jubilee at the esteemed meeting, but after several setbacks — most notably the withdrawal of Reach For The Moon, who was a 7/1 shot for those looking for a bet on horses — the Queen will not boast any entries in the Derby.

That’s not the only major talking point ahead of the Group 1 contest though, with long-time favourite Luxembourg also out of the running after suffering a muscular injury following his third-place in the recent 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Given the strength of the Ballydoyle stables, it’s nothing more than a minor setback for Aidan O’Brien, who will still have plenty of opportunities for a record-extending ninth Derby victory — with the likes of Stone Age and Changingoftheguard both currently leading the way in the ante-post market.

After last year’s victory with Adayar, British flat racing Champion Trainer Charlie Appleby would like to taste back-to-back glory in the Derby. But New London and Walk Of Stars both suffered defeats in their last outings and have drifted out to general 12/1 chances in the race’s ante-post as a result.

That Adayar win was the Godolphin handler’s second victory in the Derby, taking his Classic tally to two as well — which he has since doubled with wins in the 2021 renewal of the St Leger Stakes (Hurricane Lane) and the recent 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket (Coroebus).

With the Derby due to take place at Epsom on June 4th, now seems like the perfect chance to take a look back at Adayar’s impressive victory in the one-mile, four-furlong contest.


After second-place finishes in the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown and the Listed Derby Trial at Lingfield in the build up to the race, Adayar was far from fancied for the Derby at 16/1.

In fact, Hurricane Lane (6/1) and One Ruler (17/2) were both more favoured than their Moulton Paddocks stablemate, while Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet was the short-priced favourite at 11/8.

The race

None of that stuff matters when the stalls spring open for a race like the Derby though and the 2021 renewal of the Classic was proof of that. Despite an awkward start, Adayar soon tracked the leaders on the inside and was pushed along to lead on the far rail two furlongs out.

The Appleby horse was soon ridden clear, but edged both right and left in the closing stages before staying on strongly in the final 110 yards to beat 50/1 chance Mojo Star comfortably by four-and-a-half lengths.

Hurricane Lane lost both of his fore shoes as he could fare no better than third, One Ruler made no impression to finish sixth and O’Brien had no excuses for Bolshoi Ballet’s poor performance, as the pre-race favourite came home in a disappointing ninth.

It was a maiden Classic victory for Adam Kirby. One that was perhaps written in the stars for the jockey, after he lost his ride on the more fancied John Leeper (8/1) to Frankie Dettori prior to the race.


“I’m delighted for the whole team to be in this position again [after winning with Masar three years ago],” Appleby said afterwards. “He is home-bred as well, and Frankel’s first Derby winner and it is great for Adam. Once he hit the rising ground, it was never in doubt.

“I think if you win an English Derby you don’t have to call yourself an all-weather jockey, but Adam is far from an all-weather jockey. I’m just delighted he is part of the team and that he has had a winner.”


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