Irish trainer Dermot Weld won the Investec Derby at Epsom today (Saturday, 4 June) on his seventh attempt with Harzand.
It wasn’t the smoothest of journeys up to the race for The Aga Khan-bred colt. It was in doubt whether he would be able to run this morning after suffering a sore foot having lost a shoe travelling over from Ireland.
“I won my first Classic with Blue Wind (in the 1981 Oaks) here many years ago. I probably didn’t have horses like him to win this great race,” said Dermot.
“We had a huge worry this morning because he spread a plate travelling over and he was a very doubtful runner right up until about an hour ago. With tremendous help from all of my colleagues and my team, we made it.”
The son of 2009 Derby victor Sea The Stars is owned and bred by The Aga Khan, who has now won the prestigious race an impressive five times.
Jockey Pat Smullen enjoyed his first triumph in the Investec Derby on his eighth ride in the race. The pair started at 13/2 and went on to beat the 7/2 favourite, the Aidan O’Brien-trained US Army Ranger by one-and-a-half lengths.
“It’s what you dream of — for the boss to win this race is more fitting and I am delighted to have ridden a winner for him. He is the world’s greatest trainer and the trouble we had this morning — I didn’t know whether I was going to get on the plane or not,” said the 39-year-old jockey.
“The boys have worked absolutely unbelievably to get Harzand here sound and fit. It’s a whole team effort and I am so privileged to be in the position to ride these horses.”
The Aga Khan added: “This is a major gift for everybody who works with me in this wonderful activity. To win a fifth Derby for the family is obviously very historic.”
The Investec Oaks — the Epsom fillies’ Classic — on Friday (3 June) went to the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly Minding (pictured, below in purple).
The daughter of champion sire and Derby winner Galileo overcame a few traffic issues early on in the race under Ryan Moore.
Owned by Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor, the filly is the first to take the 1000 Guineas and Oaks double since Godolphin’s Kazzia in 2002.
“Real heart, guts and courage had to come into it during the last furlong-and-a-half, but she had all that in abundance like all the Galileos. When you go digging they usually give it,” said Aidan.
“Ryan did brilliantly to win on her given what she went through during the race — they make an incredible pair.”
Ryan added: “She is a good filly and got me out of trouble — her class got her out of trouble and she will be effective at a shorter distance.”