North Light sparkles in Derby

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  • North Light and Snow Ridge had been jostling for favouritism ever since Kieren Fallon put in a magical performance on Ouija Board in yesterday’s Oaks. In fact it was Frankie Dettori’s chosen ride Snow Ridge who led the betting as the field of 14 set off.

    But the favourite never featured in this premier classic, and as his Italian jockey explained “the horse just ran out of petrol, he didn’t have the stamina” Frankie Dettori had high hopes of his ride before the race, and in spite of last minute nerves retained confidence in his ride.

    “I have had some OK chances in the Derby but this one is knocking on being favourite and was second in a good Guineas, so he seems the right type for the Derby”, he added.

    But ultimately, the horse’s performance was disappointing, and the classic title eludes Frankie Dettori and Godolphin once again.

    Kieren Fallon has been a thorn in the side of the Godolphin stables at this year’s Derby meeting, and today’s feature race was no exception. He tracked the Aidan O’Brien-trained Meath in second place until Tattenham corner and the home turn, when he pounced with North Light, leaving the pack streaming behind him down the hill to the finish.

    The victory was reminiscent of his outright win in the fillies’ equivalent yesterday, and as well as completing the Derby-Oaks double, the champion jockey asserted his status with back-to-back Derby wins, a feat last achieved by Willy Carson almost quarter of a century ago.

    The County-Clare born jockey had been convinced of North Light’s class early on in the horse’s career:

    “He is one of my favourite horses. I liked him from the first time I sat on him when he was beaten in his maiden at Sandown last year, I thought this was a Derby horse. It was a performance with promise.

    “He won the Dante impressively, and now he’s won the Derby, and lets hope he keeps on improving to become a really great horse.”

    The Danehill colt’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute also achieved successive wins, and the fourth Derby win of his career, as he and Fallon made a winning team with Kris Kin last year.

    First second and third placings were, unusually, exactly the same as those in the 1m 2½f Dante Stakes at York last Month. The Godolphin colours made it into second place with their second horse, Rule of Law, ridden by Derby first-timer, Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy. The colt finished a more distant second than in his previous outing, but he was going on well at the end of the race.

    Let the Lion Roar put in a ripping run, proving his trainer John Dunlop correct in his assertion that the trip would suit the youngster.

    Behind him was Percussionist, who had been thought to want softer going than the official good going on the Derby course. He finished well, pipping both American Post and Salford City to fourth place. Although both of the other two colts ran great races, with American Post running on freely early in the race, and Salford City almost making a late challenge, neither quite managed the distance, running out of puff in the final furlongs.

  • Read the full report of the Vodafone Derby in this week’s Horse & Hound, on sale 10th June
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