The famous blue silks of Godolphin dominated today’s Investec Derby at Epsom Downs (Saturday, 2 June), as William Buick steered the Charlie Appleby-trained Masar to victory — giving Sheikh Mohammed’s powerhouse a long-awaited first success in the prestigious Group One race.
On the lead up to the big race, the focus was on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Saxon Warrior — this year’s 2000 Guineas victor who went off the 4/5 favourite.
However, under Ryan Moore, the Ballydoyle colt experienced some traffic problems during the race and was never a threat to the leaders, finishing fourth.
The eventual winner — a 16/1 shot — stayed on well and had a clear run up to the finishing line on the stands’ side, holding off runner-up Dee Ex Bee (Silvestre De Sousa) by one-and-a-half lengths, with Roaring Lion (Oisin Murphy) in third.
“All I could think of in the last furlong was that I wanted to be the first trainer to win the Derby in the Godolphin blue,” said Charlie Appleby, who also trained the second-placed Wild Illusion in yesterday’s Investec Oaks.
“It was a fantastic team effort. Brett Doyle rides him every day — we just wanted to get him to switch off and we thought he’d stay. William [Buick] has given him a brilliant ride, but the last 100 yards seemed a long time.
“It still hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t for days or even weeks. I was always just hoping the door was going to open for us this season and, to be honest, I did think it was going to be yesterday [in the Oaks],” he added.
William Buick, meanwhile, was enjoying his first taste of Derby success, having come close on occasions before.
“I’ve had a few rides in the race and I’ve come close a couple of times,” he said. “I know that some jockeys have ridden in the Derby more times without winning it, however, I often asked myself if my time would ever come. To do it for Sheikh Mohammed and his family — in the famous blue colours — is special, they are loyal supporters of mine and I’m very happy to be part of it all,” William added.
“Masar stayed the trip and travelled beautifully today. The Guineas didn’t happen for him but he’s a very good horse and the team believed in him.
“I’ve dreamt of this moment since I wanted to become a jockey, this is everything. A ‘Derby-winning rider’ — it sounds very good.”
O’Brien’s Oaks success
Aidan O’Brien may have missed out on this year’s Investec Derby victory, however, Forever Together’s brilliant four-and-a-half length win in the Investec Oaks (Friday, 1 June) was a seventh in the fillies’ mile-and-a-half Classic for the top trainer.
Forever Together was ridden by Aidan’s son Donnacha, who won the 2000 Guineas aboard Saxon Warrior last month.
The daughter of Galileo is out of the Theatrical mare Green Room — also dam of Group One winner Lord Shanakill — and she is the first maiden to win the Investec Oaks since Sun Princess in 1983.
Don’t miss the full report from the Investec Derby Festival in Horse & Hound magazine — on sale Thursday, 7 June.