Epsom Derby day: a proper race and a proper horse

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  • A proper race and a proper horse. Sea The Stars’ Derby victory is full of meaning. That the 2000 Guineas winner can flash home over a mile and dig deep to find that extra half a mile in the Derby is exciting, for punters and purists alike.

    It would be a bit much to hope for to imagine he will go for the St Leger and the Triple Crown — his stud value is stratospheric at the moment and, sadly, a Leger win will only diminish that these days — but we can dream about it for a while.

    What a stallion he should be — a half-brother to champion sire Galileo, son of an Arc heroine and, refreshingly in these Coolmore-dominated times, by a Darley miling stallion in Cape Cross. Will the Tsuis, who own Sea The Stars, be able to resist the sand dollars from Dubai? But then again, would you?

    It means that the Ballydoyle/Coolmore operation isn’t invincible. Aidan O’Brien ran six horses — half the field, and although he took second, third, fourth and fifth places, there’s only one that matters. Nine out of the 12 runners were by Coolmore sires — and Sea The Stars wasn’t.

    On the subject of Aidan O’Brien, he was fined £140 for each of his six horses who were late into the parade ring. Seeing the horses before the race, making your own judgements, is an integral part of the big-race experience, and watchers were very disappointed that his horses arrived seven minutes late.

    The jockeys mounted immediately and the horses were led out of the paddock on their way to the course, so we had no chance to weigh them up and observe their demeanours.

    It is not only nice to see them, it could be crucial betting information for the punter, and if all the other horses have to put up with the intense atmosphere of the parade ring, why shouldn’t O’Brien’s? Yes, he had to six to saddle, but couldn’t they have come up one at a time, rather than waiting to come in a gun-slinging posse?

    It also meant the race was seven minutes late off, which impacts on television schedules and doesn’t exactly incline the BBC, under fire for cutting back its racing coverage, in the sport’s favour.

    But none of that can overshadow a magnificent performance by a horse bred to be king, trained by a gentleman and ridden by the man with the best eyebrows in sport.

    Don’t miss H&H’s special report on the Epsom Derby meeting, on sale Thursday 11 June, ’09

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