Friday 23 March 2018

Australia fulfills his destiny by landing Epsom Derby in style for O'Brien team

Australia ridden by Joseph O'Brien (right) wins the Investec Derby from Kingston Hill ridden by Andrea Atzeni (left) at Epsom
Australia ridden by Joseph O'Brien (right) wins the Investec Derby from Kingston Hill ridden by Andrea Atzeni (left) at Epsom

Tom Peacock

Australia lived up to the hype when giving Aidan O'Brien his third successive Investec Derby at Epsom.

Third in the Qipco 2000 Guineas off the back of O'Brien's claims the regally-bred colt is the best horse he has ever trained, the son of Galileo travelled beautifully throughout.

Having hit the front over a furlong out the 11-8 favourite kicked clear of Kingston Hill and while it looked like he may go away and win by further, he still had a length and a quarter to spare from Roger Varian's gallant runner-up.

John Gosden's Romsdal outran his 20-1 price to finish third, another three and a quarter lengths away.

By a Derby winner in Galileo out of an Oaks winner in Ouija Board, the blue riband Classic was the race Australia was destined to win.

Joseph O'Brien looked confident throughout on the chestnut, sitting on the outside of the 16-runner field in mid-division.

He moved into contention so stylishly, having come down the famous hill without a hitch.

Andrea Atzeni gave Kingston Hill every chance and took over at the head of affairs with a quarter of a mile to run, but in truth he always looked a sitting duck for the market leader.

The placed horses from the Dante, Arod and True Story, were just behind the main protagonists with Red Galileo running a massive race, too.

The major disappointment was the winner's stablemate Geoffrey Chaucer, who was tailed off.

Winning rider O'Brien said: "I had a grand position and was going very easily coming down hill, nearly too easy.

"I got there a bit too soon, I was cantering all the way - I got there too soon but I had to stay going when I did.

"Horses don't come easier to ride than this fellow - he's the best (I've ridden)."

Aidan O'Brien said: "We're in a very privileged position to have the horses we have, so it's thanks to everybody. There are so many people involved just to get him to this position.

"Joseph had it in his mind where he wanted to be all the time, to keep it uncomplicated and safe and that is what he did - he gave him a beautiful ride.

"We said what we thought (about him being best Flat horse O'Brien has trained). Maybe it is best to say nothing, but we've always thought he was very special - the way he is bred makes him very special.

"The way he travelled through the race he must be very special.

"We're going through a tricky time with our horses back home, they were very sick in the spring and they all had to get medicated. It was tricky training them after that, some were slower to respond.

"The lads (Coolmore) will speak about targets. He has a lot of options because he has a lot of pace, anything from a mile up."

The winner ran in the colours of Derrick Smith, part of the Coolmore triumvirate, and Kingston Hill is owned by his son, Paul, who said: "I'm delighted, dad can pick up the bill tonight!

"I always knew what they thought of Australia, but our horse has run a great race."

Varian said of Kingston Hill: "I'm really pleased. Andrea gave him a great ride and had him in a good position throughout.

"He had every chance to win and we really served it up to him. He has run a great race without winning.

"The winner looks very good, so I'm absolutely thrilled.

"For his first ride in the Derby Andrea did everything right, he's a pretty relaxed boy.

"We'll just have to see if we take him on again, Aidan may drop him back to 10 furlongs but I think the Curragh (Irish Derby) would suit our horse - we'll just digest everything, he's had a hard race there.

"I'm sure they'll meet again at some stage."

Gosden saddled two, with Romsdal's third bettering that of much-fancied stablemate Western Hymn in sixth.

"Romsdal ran a great race, he looks like a St Leger type to me," said Gosden.

"Yet again the Guineas form has come to the fore, it was obviously a very strong race. Kingman, The Grey Gatsby and now Australia have won the last three Classics since running at Newmarket.

"Western Hymn met a bit of trouble, which you'd expect at a place like this with a big field.

"I think a more conventional track will suit him better, but we picked up sixth-place prize-money and covered our expenses.

"The time was well inside standard, so it was a very good renewal. The right horse has won."

After his Inchila finished fourth in the Oaks on Friday, Arod filled the same position for Peter Chapple-Hyam.

"I'm delighted. That was really his first proper race, he's still a big child, but he's getting there," said Chapple-Hyam.

"He was trained for one day, and that's it. Jamie (Spencer) said he'd have liked to be a bit closer and he struggled a bit going down hill.

"I was the only one wanting it (ground) to be as fast as possible!

"He'll have a break now, and I think next year he'll be an even better horse."

Paying tribute to O'Brien as he became the first trainer ever to send out three consecutive Derby winners in the 235-year history of the Epsom Classic, Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: "To win the Investec Derby three years in a row is a remarkable feat and a fantastic achievement. Well done to Aidan, Joseph and all of the team at Ballydoyle.

"Australia's inspiring win today at Epsom underlines the strength of Irish Flat racing and enhances our reputation around the world.

"We look forward to showcasing our talent at home during Irish Champions Weekend in September, which will be the greatest concentration of quality Flat racing ever staged in Ireland."

Online Editors

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