John Reid: A good draw in the Derby is vital to win *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    Masar was an unexpected winner of this year’s Investec Derby at Epsom. However, in my opinion, he should not have been. In Saturday’s paper, I had put a big circle around his name — yes, he was beaten into third in the 2000 Guineas (won by Saxon Warrior), but he was a very impressive winner of the Craven Stakes in April and on both occasions he beat Roaring Lion, the Derby second-favourite.

    The favourite Saxon Warrior finished a disappointing fourth and I think we’ll see a better horse in him in the future. I was at Epsom for the draw on the Thursday and, when Saxon Warrior was drawn in stall one, I was concerned for him.

    Number one is a very difficult draw and only leaves the jockey with two options; kick up — which can easily burn your horse out — or drop in and hope you get lucky.

    This didn’t happen, and Ryan Moore found himself behind a wall of horses. He then had to pull his horse to the right, up the camber, to make his challenge, and this is a big negative at Epsom.

    The start is probably the most important part of the Derby. First, you move to the right-hand side of the track, then back to the inside rail — this all takes place in the first two furlongs.

    The climb to the top of the hill is substantial. You then turn left and descend to Tattenham Corner and into the home straight, where you have the steep left-to-right camber to contend with. From a jockey’s perspective, you want everything to go right on the day and for everything to suit your mount, including a good draw and suitable ground.

    Winning is magic

    I was fortunate enough to win the Derby in 1992 aboard Doctor Devious and I can say it is a feeling like no other.

    I have won two King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, an Irish Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. They are all amazing races, but the magic of winning a Derby is so special. It is a unique place and the one race everyone wants to win. The Derby has such a great appeal to the general public, too, a bit like the Grand National.

    Doctor Devious was a bit keen to start with and I remember being worried that he wasn’t going to settle at all. However, he then relaxed; we got into a nice position and had a clean run — which is what you need.

    I won’t forget waking up on the morning of the Derby that year and saying to my wife, Joy, “I think I can win the Derby today”.

    I had ridden Doctor Devious during a racecourse gallop at Epsom the week before and he had felt so balanced and relaxed. I just felt that all I had to do was keep him out of trouble during the race and we would have a great chance of winning.

    Well done Godolphin

    It was nice to see Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation claim their first Derby success — a race which had always eluded them before.

    I actually got beaten a short-head in the 1998 Derby in the famous blue silks on City Honours when the Luca Cumani trained High-Rise won under Olivier Peslier. So I know what it is like to have won the Derby, but I also remember the disappointment of getting beaten.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 7 June 2018