Jockey Adam Kirby captured the greatest prize in Flat racing when partnering Adayar to an emphatic victory in the Group 1 Cazoo Derby (1m4f) at Epsom on Saturday.
Adayar, one of three runners in the race for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation and trainer Charlie Appleby, was the least fancied of the trio according to the betting, despite having finished second in two trials at Sandown and Lingfield.
Kirby enjoyed a ground-saving trip on Adayar, sticking to the rail just behind the leaders Gear Up and Youth Spirit while Bolshoi Ballet, the sole runner for Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien, failed to get any cover, forced to travel three-wide under Ryan Moore through the opening few furlongs.
As the field rounded Tattenham Corner, Ben Curtis asked Gear Up for maximum effort as his rivals closed in, with Frankie Dettori and John Leeper, who had been settled in last place, making their bid for glory down the outside.
When Gear Up moved slightly off the rail in the straight, Kirby seized his chance and bravely drove Adayar through the gap, setting the son of Frankel alight and asking him to put his seal on matters.
Hitting the front two furlongs from home, Adayar ran on powerfully and was soon in the clear, shifting right and then back to the rail but in no danger as he crossed the line four and a half lengths clear of maiden Mojo Star, running a mighty race on just his third start under David Egan for owner Amo Racing and trainer Richard Hannon. Hurricane Lane, a stablemate of the winner partnered by William Buick, was three and a quarter lengths away in third.
The result was extra special for the winning rider, who had been ‘jocked off’ the fancied John Leeper in the run-up to the blue riband, only to be given the chance on the Godolphin third-string.
Kirby said after the race: “There’s ups and downs, swings and roundabouts. When it comes to Charlie Appleby, he’s a top man. I can’t thank him enough. He’s a true gentleman and a great trainer. Thanks very much for putting me on this lad.
“I had no choice [to go up the rail]. He was gutsy, he got in there quick. I can’t believe it and I can’t thank everybody enough.”
The winning trainer said: “All the credit goes to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and team Godolphin. Everyone works so hard at this game. We saw the trials and tribulations in the build-up. I’m delighted or Adam. It was a fantastic ride and it’s something that every jockey wants to achieve. He was hungry for it – and I’m delighted he got the results.
“Adam knew this horse better than most – he broke him in! So well done to the team at Vicarage Farm. Most importantly he’s a homebred. It’s a huge team effort. I can’t thank everybody enough to be standing here again [after Masar in 2018] on this hallowed ground.”
Earlier on the Epsom card, Oisin Murphy delivered a front-running masterclass on Parent’s Prayer in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes (1m½f) for owners Ecurie Ama Zingteam and trainer Archie Watson, while Tom Marquand delivered the Team Wallop-owned, Richard Hannon-trained Oh This Is Us right on the line in the Group 3 Cazoo Diomed Stakes to deny Century Dream his second win in the extended mile contest.
David Egan, 21, enjoyed his first winner at Epsom when guiding Mokaatil to success in the World Pool ‘Dash’ Handicap (5f) for owner Midtech and trainer Ian Williams, swiftly adding another success for the trainer when taking the closing handicap on Paul Wildes’ Ejtilaab.