Well many people might disagree with that statement these days but regardless tomorrow is THE Derby. Not the “Epsom Derby” just the Derby. The original one.
Tomorrow I go for the 29th successive year (it will have to be a celebration in 12 months). Yesterday’s blog talked about Quest For Fame winning my first in 1990. Since then so many great memories.
The following year was one of the best with my ante post choice Generous powering away from Marju to win in style. That Derby was just a few days before my wedding (have I been married that long?) so no doubt those winnings came in handy. Those with decent memories will remember the controversy of jockey Richard Quinn, probably my first ‘favourite jockey’ being ‘jocked off’ by owner Fahd Salman, who close to the race decided to retain little known Alan Munro to ride in his famous all green colours. Generous went onto to be a great horse, destroying the field in the King George later that summer.
Fast forward ten years through the likes of Commander in Chief beating stable companion and odds on favourite Tenby, and less celebrated winners such as Shaamit, Benny the Dip and Erhaab and good winners such as Sindaar to 2001 the year of the horse who holds the mantle for being the pre-eminent sire of his generation Galileo. Another ante post bet landed easily as he got first run and stayed on resolutely to beat the decent Golan. I love Mark Johnson’s commentary when he bellows “Here comes Galileo on the outside” as Mick Kinane made the winning move on 2f out. As good a horse as he was, who was to know what an impact Galileo was to have on the breed in the years ahead. This was also the only time that I’ve been in the Queen’s Stand to watch the Derby, hence dressing up in full morning suit.
Aidan O’Brien was at it again the following year when High Chaparral outstayed stablemate (and my bet) Hawk Wing with the rest nowhere. People said Hawk Wing didn’t stay – clearly he did stay finishing 12 lengths ahead of Moon Ballad who was third – but just not as well as the winner. Incidentally, enjoy the video. The only one I can find was in Japanese 🙂
Motivator was pretty good in 2005 and there were great scenes when Frankie finally won the Derby on Authorised two years later. Hard to forget Mickael Barzelona, who Richard Hoiles exclaimed “celebrated as if he’d won the Derby” standing up in the irons before passing the post (and while still second or third) on Pour Moi in 2011 and the following year Camelot threatened to be a triple crown winner when cruising to victory against a poor field.
Golden Horn was great three years ago and then last year when I was cheering my ante post bet Cliffs of Moher until 40-1 chance (and stablemate) Wings of Eagles hit the front in the last strides for the upset and the tears.
And I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Sea the Stars, Australia and Harzand.
Another star will be made tomorrow, another horse will go into the history books. Hopefully that horse will be Saxon Warrior to set up the triple crown bid for later in the year. But no horse is a certainty. Before my time El Gran Senor and Dancing Brave both somehow managed to not win the race, and Entrepreneur was an odds on failure as a Guineas winner, not staying.
Will Saxon Warrior stay, will he act on the ground, will he act on the track, can he overcome the unfavourable draw. We’ll find out tomorrow.