Racing News – 6 June 2016

Aga Khan Wins The Derby Again and Magnificent Minding

Friday and Saturday brought the next two instalments in the 2016 classic adventure, with Epsom playing host to the Oaks and Derby. The fillies were first up on Friday in a race which produced a scintillating performance from the hot favourite.

The Oaks

Minding had shown her brilliance when strolling to success in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, and her heart and determination when only beaten a head in the Irish 1000, despite running the whole race with a burst sinus.

On Friday at Epsom all of these qualities were required in The Oaks. Badly hampered when push came to shove in the home straight, having to be switched left, then right, the O’Brien filly still seemed to have a mountain to climb to reel in Architecture who had shot clear. That Minding was able to bridge that gap, and win going away in the end, rubber stamps the impression she had created at Newmarket. This is the best filly we have seen in a long, long time.

The Derby

The sight of the Ballydoyle colours coming home in front in the British Classics seems to occur with such regularity that it almost invokes a feeling of déjà vu. It had been rather a while however since we last witnessed another set of famous silks carried to victory in the most famous classic of them all. Not since Sinndar in the year 2000 had the green and red of the Aga Khan claimed glory in the Epsom Derby. That is a long time to wait for one of the world’s most powerful owners and breeders and a lot has changed in the intervening years. Aidan O’Brien, for instance, was yet to register a Derby win in 2000, but backed by the new Ballydoyle superpower now has five.

Saturday then, was something of a blast from the past as the Aga Khan’s Harzand, given a peach of a ride by Pat Smullen, held off all comers, including a late surge from the O’Brien runner US Army Ranger to mark himself out as the leading colt of his generation. Whilst it may have been a long time coming for the Aga Khan, he does now have five Derby wins to his name, for trainer Dermot Weld this was a lifetime in the making.

Weld certainly had not been short of success with wins in the Melbourne Cup, Breeders Cup, 15 Irish Classics and two English Classics counting amongst his haul. Until this year however the Derby had proved elusive. Given the right materials Weld has proven he has what it takes to succeed and in this son of Sea The Stars he had a more than willing accomplice. Looking further ahead we have what could be a mouth-watering Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe taking shape, with Harzand, Minding and brilliant Coronation Cup winner, Postponed, all possible runners at Chantilly.

Royal Ascot Next

Before all that though there is the five-day extravaganza that is Royal Ascot to look forward to. The form study for that meeting will be beginning in earnest now and what a menu we have in store. A Shin Hikari vs Time Test vs The Grey Gatsby in the Prince of Wales, Quiet Reflection vs Acapulco in the Commonwealth Cup and best of all Awtaad vs Galileo Gold vs The Gurkha in the St James’ Palace Stakes. In the training ranks we could see a case of O’Brien vs O’Brien as both Aidan and his newly licenced son Joseph look set to clash. With the action kicking off on the 14th June be sure to tune in – and of course we’ll have betting tips and the best offers for all of the biggest races right here.