Mohammed realises Derby dream
After 41 years of being an owner in England, Sheikh Mohammed, the biggest single investor in the history of the sport, finally achieved what he set out to do yesterday when Masar, a homebred carrying the blue colours of Godolphin, outstayed all his rivals to land the 239th Investec Derby at Epsom.
The colt, a 16-1 shot, slipped in under the radar despite running an encouraging third in the 2,000 Guineas, to give trainer Charlie Appleby his first Classic and jockey William Buick a first success in the Derby, a race the jockey described as the "holy grail, the be-all and end-all, the everything" of racing.
He beat the Yorkshire-trained Dee Ex Bee, also bred by Godolphin but owned by Sheikh Mohammed's son Sheikh Hamdan, a length and a half. Roaring Lion, who did not quite get the trip on the ground, was a close third with Saxon Warrior, the 4-5 favourite a disappointing fourth. At no stage did he ever give odds-on backers or his jockey Ryan Moore any hope of collecting.
The race turned out to be a bonanza for bookmakers who were saved a multi-million pound pay-out on Saxon Warrior.
Moore was at a loss to explain his tame effort in fourth and instead of joining the select band of horses to win a Guineas and a Derby, he now joins another less glamorous band by becoming the 15th odds-on shot to get beat in a Derby.
"It's disappointing," said Moore. "He just didn't pick up. I don't think he fired but I don't know whether it's the ground or the track."
Saxon Warrior was, however, the first home of Ballydoyle's five runners but, for once, the all-conquering stable had to take a sup of the medicine it has been dishing out to Godolphin for most of the current century.
Masar means 'journey' and there have been a few bumps along the way for Godolphin since it was founded in the early 1990s. It did win the 1995 Derby with Lammtarra but he did not carry the stable's colours and was technically owned by Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum, an obscure cousin. Though the 'royal blues' have always been considered one of racing's super-powers along with the Coolmore-Ballydoyle axis, it has very much been second in the superpower pecking order in recent years.
"This is what it is all about - winning big races across the world," said Sheikh Mohammed afterwards. "It is something very special to win the Derby.
"I was confident during the race as I thought William was going very well but before the race, I don't know. We knew the favourite was a very good horse but we liked ours too. I wasn't nervous for the last part - I was excited and jumping around. Horses are my blood so this is a very special day for me. I love horses and I love racing."
Sunday Indo Sport