The Derby Review - Did The Race Go As Planned?

The Derby Review - Did The Race Go As Planned?

Anthony Van Dyck won the Investec Derby under jockey Seamie Heffernan for boss Aidan O'Brien - who equalled the record for the most victories in the race for a trainer with seven.

Ironically, the master of Ballydoyle had a septet of runners to try and achieve this feat, eventually filling up four of the next six home after the winner, and it was no surprise to see him as a trainer prevail.

Whether trainers' should be allowed to field more than half the field in Group Ones remains for another article, but the genius of the Irish trader should never be in doubt or in question.

A son of the great Galileo - who won the Derby in 2001, Anthony Van Dyck really progressed from his Lingfield trial victory to land the second Classic of the season for the Colts, for a jockey yet to taste Derby success.

But did the race go as planned?

There have been some magnificent pictures unveiled since Saturday showing how close the finish was to the prestigious contest, and it uniquelly resembled everything a 'handicap' race actually aims to achieve.

Of course the Derby is a Group One, but a handicap should be run with all horses crossing the line at the same time due to their weight differences.

The first five home in the Derby could have been covered with a blanket; they were together less than a length-and-a-half apart.

This proves that these five horses certainly ran to their best or their optimum, together demonstrating an array of improvement, with firstly Madhmoon in second stepping up to the fold over a distance he was not bred to stay.

Japan stayed on stoutly on the outside under Wayne Lordan in third, and continues to grow his name and credential as a future St Leger contender for Ballydoyle later in the year, whilst the fourth Broome was likewise not far off and proved the market was spot on to see him sent off as the second favourite beforehand.

The favourite himself - Sir Dragonet, was next and another who ran with great credit under Ryan Moore. With lots to prove over ground he had never competed on, he looked workmanlike and circled the field stylishly looking like the winner at some stages when he poked his nose in front from the two-pole.

That was all a learning curve for him given he only made his debut six weeks ago, and on another day with a bit more experience under his belt, the result may have been different.

All those named so far would have been worthy winners, given the margin back to the rest of the field. Just like last year with De Ex Bee, Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior, these shaped to be the horses that could fight out the remaining Group Ones over the middle distance series this season.

What about the rest?

Circus Maximus stumbled out of the gates under Oaks winning rider Frankie Dettori, but did do well to go onto to finish sixth given his trouble in running, and may be on the end of some better luck on his next start.

Humanitarian's effort was expected given how steep the climb up in class was before hand, but may do better in a lower-graded Stakes race next time out.

Norway and Line Of Duty likewise may have just found this intense Group One a bit too hot to handle, and could both be now seen going up and down to varying distances - Norway over further with the St Leger in mind too, and perhaps Line Of Duty for Godolphin reversed back to ten furlongs or less.

Sovereign and Hiroshima ran to their odds suggested, but the two big disappointments were the strongly-backed British duo of Bangkok and Telecaster who filled up the last two places.

The Irish have in effect wiped out the Dante Stakes and Sandown Classic Trial form from this season already, as both the Andrew Balding and Hughie Morrison-trained three-year-olds were very much below their game.

Bangkok - sweating in the preliminaries pulled too hard for Silvestre De Sousa and was always struggling after Tattenham Corner, whilst Telecaster was prominent throughout, but faded quickly into a walk from the two-pole and was well beaten in the end.

Most will know that is not the real Bangkok and Telecaster that turned up, and hopefully a little break will sort the pair of them out. Perhaps the Dante came too close to the Derby for Telecaster who remains very inexperienced, and carried a big reputation on his shoulders having been supplemented for a hefty fee.

Bangkok is more of the unknown; perhaps the track and the occasion got the better of him, but both should be given chances to bounce back to their well-known best later in the season.

The final conclusion returns to the original question - did the race unfold as we planned?

One thing for sure, is that the race was dominated by Aidan O'Brien - a professional of his trade. He solely out-minded his opposition with his imperiously-frequent tactics at Epsom to set the pace, and dictate matters from the front end.

This kept his rivals penned away out of the frame and instead allowing stablemates with serious chances the gaps and opportunities to go onto win fairly.

O'Brien succeeded once again, and he did not just win.. he absolutely thrashed them.