Godolphin’s Adayar (16/1) and jockey Adam Kirby were winners of the Group 1 Cazoo Derby at Epsom, England, on Saturday, with the pre-race favourite Bolshoi Ballet only managing seventh place in the race.
Kirby, who had been previously booked to ride John Leeper, was changed for Frankie Dettori 72 hours ago when the Italian didn’t have a confirmed ride in the race.
Trainer Charlie Appleby then turned to Kirby to ride the outsider of the three Godolphin-owned horses and incredibly ended up winning the 242nd Derby.
Mohaafeth, who had been vying for second favouritism in the betting market, was withdrawn early in the afternoon due to what was described by the colt’s trainer William Haggis as “dead” ground, leaving just 11 runners in the Premier Classic.
It was Mohaafeth’s half-brother, both being by Juddmonte Farms’ stallion Frankel, who claimed the Group 1 prize, giving his handler a second Epsom Derby in 3 years following Masar’s victory in 2018. It was a 338th Group/Grade 1 success worldwide for Godolphin since its foundation in 1992.
The long-priced runner was the firm outside of the three Godolphin representatives in the race. He had finished runner-up in both the Sandown Classic Trial in April and the Lingfield Derby Trial last month.
Well positioned in the front six runners throughout the one mile four furlongs trip, Kirby and Adayar took the lead on the rail two furlongs from home before holding off the challenge of 50/1 chance Mojo Star by four and a half lengths, with another Charlie Appleby-trained runner, also in the silks of Godolphin, Hurricane Lane, another three and a half lengths back in third place.
Adayar’s victory was a first in the Cazoo Derby for his sire the 147-rated Frankel, a winner of all of his 14 career races in the ownership of the late Prince Khalid Abdullah.
Race favourite Bolshoi Ballet (11/8f), the Coolmore partners-owned Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Galileo, was prominent throughout, before coming under pressure in the home stretch and fading back into a final finishing position of seventh.
The winning rider, Adam Kirby, on his first Classic winner, thanked the victorious conditioner Charlie Appleby for what he described as his “unbelievable loyalty”.
“I can’t thank Charlie Appleby enough; his loyalty is unbelievable. He’s a real man’s man. Clive Cox, my guvnor isn’t here today but he’s the most loyal man, and to be able to ride class horses when you’ree just a sort of run-of-the-mill jockey and you get a chance on the big day to deliver – it’s a marvellous feeling.
“There was just enough room up the rail, and I thought if I could just get in I could help them make their minds up, so I got in; luckily the horse was brave enough to go through with it and galloped up to the line and out through it. It’s a marvellous day. I hope my mother was watching!”
Charlie Appleby, a winner of 38 Group/Grade 1 races since he began training in 2013, said of today’s win:
“I’m delighted to be in this position again and it is a very privileged position to be in. To win it the way he has done it he has stamped his authority there amongst the three year old middle distance horses now. We will get back and let the dust settle and it will be interesting to see what the boys have got to say about the other pair as well.
“Once he hit that rising ground it was very much to say it was never in doubt. You see the size of this horse he is learning all the time. At Lingfield we all go there to try gain some experience but it is harder round Lingfield than coming around Epsom for those big horses. We all know the camber and undulation of both tracks. We felt Lingfield was a harder track to come round so he would have learned plenty.”
The English handler paid tribute to Adam Kirby, for whom it was only a second ride in the Cazoo Derby, for the role he played in Saturday’s victory:
“Adam is a natural horseman. You can put him on any type of horse. He can settle a horse he can tend horses. When I first took out a license Adam rode winners for us early on. He is a natural horseman. I don’t need to say what he does as he has just done it.”