Snowfall in June Breaks Records – Derby Won by Adam
It seems only a very short time ago that we were reporting on the successes of Aidan O’Brien having the double at Epsom last year for both the classics – The Derby and The Oaks. This year, he was back again, in an attempt to repeat his last year’s achievement. One thing was certain about the renewals of the two classics this year, is that both were very open races, and Aiden had both favourites for the races. The one thing that would be different in 2021, is that Cazoo, the on line car sellers, sponsored the Epsom Meeting for the first time which took in both classics.
Thus far this season, we don’t think that this term’s three year olds are up to much in comparison with recent years. The colts particularly have looked backward and their races so far in the various trials seem to back that view up! As for the fillies, they too have looked below par with no outstanding prospects. However, this has been a difficult spring for trainers. The weather throughout the whole of April and three of the four weeks of May has been really cold, and in May very wet as well. This has obviously had the effect that horses have not done nearly as well as expected in themselves and with no doubt the horses have not come in their coats as they would have in a normal weather pattern year.
Without doubt, these two classic races were considered to be the most open for many years, and therefore perhaps the most anticipated? The Derby celebrated several mile stones this year. It was 50 years ago since the great Mill Reef won; it was 30 years ago since Shergar, won the Derby in such convincing style before his untimely kidnap and demise when he went to stud; and it was 20 years ago since Aidan O’Brien won his first of his thus far eight Derbys with Galileo. Will he make it nine in 2021 with Bolshoi Ballet?
So, before these classics were run, we all had to ask ourselves; what are we to make of them? Have we got ourselves a bunch of very disappointing three year olds, or are one or two going to come out and shock us now they have had some decent warm sunny weather on their backs for ten days or so? We suspect and hoped the latter. However, there was not much encouragement from Bally Doyle and Aidan O’Brien, in that he had six colts entered in the Derby at the five day stage, but when it came to the two day declarations, only one was left in the race. This must be the lowest number of O’Brien runners in the Epsom Derby, pretty well since he started training in 1996.
The Cazoo Epsom Oaks
In the Cazoo Oaks, Aidan O’Brien did leave five of his fillies in the contest out of the fourteen runners declared. Thought to be Aidan’s best hope and favourite for the race was Santa Barbara, a filly by Camelot out of a Danehill mare. She never ran as a two year old and was beaten in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas by Mother Earth – since beaten herself in France recently. Like the colts, are there any decent 3 year old fillies this year? The fact was that many of the runners could argue that they had the credentials to win this race.
The most interesting runner in our humble opinion was the late Sheikh Hamdan’s bred Shadwell Estates filly Zeyaadah. She is by Tamayuz out of an Act One mare. She has had only one run this term for trainer Roger Varian, at Chester, and was beaten by another runner in this race – Dubai Fountain trained by Mark Johnston. Zeyaadah was unbeaten as a two year old. We have to admit though; she has not really beaten anything yet? One other we thought might be of interest was the second home in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas, Saffron Beach, trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam. This is a filly out of first season stallion New Bay by the great Dubawi, out of a mare by Raven’s Pass. There was a doubt, however, that she just might not have the legs for 1 ½ miles round Epson? Finally, a consideration was needed for Snowfall, one of the Aidan O’Brien quintet, and winner of the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York recently. Also, there was little doubt about her stamina being by Japanese sensational sire Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare.
The Oaks Race Itself
As Cazoo Oaks day dawned, the rain started to fall. The going was called as good to firm for the afternoon’s racing, and it was not expected to have much effect on the ground. However, the rain got harder and harder and by the time the race was run, the going had gone to soft.
The race started at a good gallop with several horses wanting to be in the lead. After about half way, the pace settled a little with a considered ‘no hoper’ Mystery Angel and Dubai Fountain heading the field. Santa Barbara was well at the back, Ryan Moore obviously trying to stretch out the filly’s stamina, when out of the pack came Frankie Dettori on Snowfall. He swept into the lead and just kept going. He won by a massive 16 lengths. Unheard of in a classic. It was an extraordinary victory and a record winning margin for the Oaks; after which Frankie said that “he even had the luxury of taking his goggles off at the 5 furlong marker, he was so far ahead.” This was Aidan O’Brien’s fortieth British classic win, a feat not seen since John Scott trained as many between 1827 and 1863. It was also Frankie Dettori’s twenty first British classic win. He also was making history as he now equalled the best ever classic win haul with Fred Archer, also in the 1900s. At last, we can say that there is a decent three year old. Snowfall could well win the Arc in October if she carries on like that!!!Second home was Mystery Angel with Divinely third.
The Cazoo Epsom Derby
In the Cazoo Derby, the sole Aidan O’Brien representative was Bolshoi Ballet who has been unbeaten in his two outings this year, both Group 3 races at Leopardstown in Ireland. Admittedly, he did win his second race by 6 lengths, but did he really beat anything? Those who were so keen to have him go off favourite were happy to tell you that Bolshoi Ballet did win a Group 1 last October in France. We certainly were not to put money on him however, as he has never run over 1 mile 2 furlongs. We were worried that he had not really beaten anything that special (but that could go for them all) and our biggest worry was his pedigree. Yes he is by the great Galileo, but out of an Anabaa mare, a stallion far more noted for his sprinting offspring.
Out of the 12 runners, it was argued that all of them had plus points and could win and the same for minus points. A horse we liked when he won a listed contest in Newmarket was the William Haggas trained Mohaafeth, a beautifully bred colt by the late Sheikh Hamdan for the Shadwell stud, by Frankel out of a Sea The Stars mare. However, the rain on Oaks day would not have helped his chances. Another of note was Hurricane Lane, a colt bred by Godolphin. This is another Frankel colt out of a Shirocco mare, so breeding certainly suggested that he would get the distance. The other Godolphin runner, and well touted since he ran at two was Roman Ruler, a colt by Dubawi out of a Shamardal mare, so pedigree suggests he may not have the legs for the mile and half contest. Both of these two are trained by Charlie Appleby.
The nostalgic story was for John Leeper, also well fancied, and named after the trainer Ed Dunlop’s father, the great trainer John Dunlop who died in 2018. John Leeper Dunlop trained two Derby winners, Shirley Heights in 1978 and Erhaab in 1994. When Ed started training his father John sent him a few horses to get going, one of which was Snow Fairy, dam of this 3 year old colt, and who just happened to win the Oaks. He is yet another Frankel colt to boot! He won a listed contest on his last start but he faced much greater opposition on this outing. However, he did have the inform Frankie Dettori to guide him home. Finally, the Jim Bolger bred, trained and owned Mac Swiney and winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas only l0 days ago. Mac Swiney is by New Approach who won the Derby for Bolger in 2008 and out of a Teofilo and no one should ever under estimate the 79 year old Jim Bolger’s abilities!
The Derby Race Itself
Well 1 hour and 29 minutes before the off, William Haggas told everyone that it was with great sadness that he was having to withdraw Mohaafeth as the ground was holding after yesterday’s rain and therefore would be totally unsuitable for the horse to run. “While I am very disappointed to have to withdraw Mohaafeth, he is a horse we hold with huge promise and potential we believe, and that to run him and maybe ruin his future in this race would be sad and irresponsible” Haggas, who has won the Derby before today, was almost in tears as he made his announcement. That said, the other 11 runners went to post. John Leeper gave Frankie Dettori a horrible run to the start and really got wound up, far more than anyone else. He had run his race going to the start despite Frankie pulling him to the rear of the field as soon as the gates opened. He came with a run once he got into the straight, but ended up running out of petrol. It was a fast a true run race, and three furlongs out, it was clear that Bolshoi Ballet did not have the necessary stamina for this race.
Other fancied horses also failed to shine, and one that on one really gave much chance to, the third runner for the Godolphin/ Charlie Appleby team, Adayar, ridden by Adam Kirby, pushed through on the rail and went on to take a spectacular win. This was a just reward for Adam Kirby, giving him his first Derby victory; and after he was taken off John Leeper earlier last week and was put on 16 to 1 shot Adayar. The winner is by Frankel, (the first Frankel sired winner of the Derby) out of a Dubawi mare; and bred by Godolphin. Second home was also a surprise, Mojo Star, a maiden still, trained by Richard Hannon. Surely it won’t be long before he wins his first race? In third was the best of the fancied runners, Hurricane Moon.
It was certainly an interesting Cazoo Derby, as it was so wide open and the result being so unpredictable making it exciting as well. Adam Kirby deserves his success as he has worked hard to achieve everything as a jockey he can, particularly as he is a big lad and has always to watch his weight. No double for either Aidan O’Brien or Frankie Dettori, but history was made in the Oaks on several fronts and surely there will be more to come from both these 3 year old winners.
The Coral Coronation Cup
While we all got over excited about the weekend of classics, we must not forget the one other Group 1 race of the meeting, The Coral Coronation Cup, a 1 ½ mile race over the classic course for older horses. Six went to post, and William Haggas’s Al Asay was sent off as the fancied runner as he had run and won his last race at Newbury, The Aston Park Stakes. Others were Pyledriver, winner at Royal Ascot last term, a couple of O’Brien hopefuls, Japan and Mogul, both horses expected to set the world alight, but have done so quite yet! The final two runners were Highland Chief (Paul Cole trains) and the only filly in the race Albaflora. (Ralph Beckett trained)
This race was run at a reasonable pace with Pyledriver being kept up with the pace. Many thought the William Muir trained Pyledriver had lost heart in his racing as he would wander all over the place at the end of his recent races and would shy from the whip. On this occasion, jockey Martin Dwyer placed the horse right on the rail and in the lead about 3 furlongs out. He knew that any horse who wanted to pass him would have to travel close, so when the pressure was on, and the whip was used, there was nowhere for Pyledriver to go except forwards as he was hemmed in. The plan worked wonderfully well and Pyledriver took the honours with Al Asay coming second, and incidentally, helping the victor claim his victory on the way!! Rather ironic really?