Epsom Derby 2019 Meeting Review: Aidan Awesome Again

And it’s all over for another year. The most anticipated flat race of the season – and Britain’s richest flat race – never fails to deliver, and this year served up a real thriller. Here we take a look at how this year’s Epsom Derby unfolded, pick out a couple of other high points of the meeting, and take a look ahead to the final Classic of the season.

Van Dyck Masterpiece In Derby

There are those who decry the number of runners Aidan O’Brien invariably sends to post in these Classic contests but, for better or worse, the fact remains that the best horses in the game do hail from his Ballydoyle operation. We only need look at the result of this years Derby as a case in point.

Seven of this year’s 13-runner field were representing O’Brien, and five of those runners finished in the first six. With the odd one out being Kevin Prendergast’s second placed Madhmoon, the first six home were all from an Irish yard in what was a desperately poor year for the British runners.

The race itself produced one of the most thrilling finishes in years as a wave of five horses al lined up with a chance inside the final furlong. Favourite Sir Dragonet was the first to make his bid for glory but cracked close home to be swamped by those around him. Madhmoon was plugging on gamely whilst Japan and Broome were finishing with a real flourish. Staying on best of all up the rail on the far side though was Lingfield Derby Trial winner, Anthony Van Dyck. It was he who prevailed at the line, as once again the combination of O’Brien and sire Galileo proved impossible to deny on the big stage. A fourth Derby win for Galileo as a sire and a record equalling  seventh for O’Brien. It is surely only a matter of time before he is out in front on his own.

Gold For Gosden In Oaks

Aidan O’Brien wasn’t quite so mob-handed in Friday’s big one, the Oaks, with “only” four of the 14-runner field calling his Cashel yard their home. Three of that quartet finished in the first five, but crucially not in that all important first place this time.

It looked like being a case of the same old story as O’Brien’s Pink Dogwood swept around the field in ominous fashion in the straight to hit the front inside the final furlong. John Gosden’s Anapurna had other ideas though. Having raced up with the pace from the off, she was far from done with once headed, and had enough left in the tank for one last burst to the line to get up by a neck under the Frankie Dettori drive. A fifth win in the race for Frankie and a third for Gosden.

Hannon Joins The 1000 Club

Saturday’s Princess Elizabeth Stakes may not have been the highest profile race at this meeting, but it is one which will likely live long in the memory of trainer Richard Hannon. Having finished an unlucky in running second in the race twelve months ago, Anna Nerium simply wouldn’t be denied this time around. Kept wide to avoid any potential traffic problems, she fairly powered home on the run to the line to win going away by 1¼l.

As significant a win as this was for the hose, it was even more so for her trainer, with this win representing his 1000th since taking up a license. A fine achievement for a handler who likely has many years ahead of him yet.

St Leger Pointers

Just one Classic left this season now, with Doncaster’s St Leger as ever rounding off the elite three year old calendar. Anyone looking for pointers towards that 1m6f event, were certainly well catered for in the Derby in Oaks, with three in particular catching our eye, all hailing from the O’Brien yard.

Broome is a horse who takes a while to get going, but stayed on to good effect to fill third in the Derby. He’s a 7/1 shot for the Leger. For us the most eye-catching run though came from his stablemate Japan. The Galileo colt stayed on from well back to snatch third on the line, seeming likely to have been in front in another 100 yards or so. The step up in trip seems sure to suit Japan who can be backed at 6/1.

Anyone looking for one at a bigger price may want to consider Oaks third, Fleeting. Second last approaching the furlong mark, this unheralded 25/1 shot didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs – having to switch twice – but gained ground all the way to the line, and is another likely to enjoy the greater stamina emphasis of the Doncaster race. At 16/1 she looks an appealing each way proposition.