THERE is always a sense of disappointment when a colt touted as the likely new superstar of racing flops in the biggest race of them all, the Investec Derby.
Epsom therefore wore an air of anticlimax when Dawn Approach, easy winner of the 2,000 Guineas, finished a long last in yesterday’s 233rd running of the Classic.
For the fourth time, master trainer Aidan O’Brien of Ballydoyle took the Blue Riband for Ireland with proven stayer Ruler Of The World who was given a vintage ride by Ryan Moore.
Everything that could go wrong with Dawn Approach did go wrong. Since the Guineas, trainer Jim Bolger had been pestered about whether he would stay the 12 furlongs, handle Epsom’s fearsome undulations and be cool on the big occasion. The colt did none of them.
Ruler Of The World certainly did, and his victory was thoroughly deserved. He wore the dark blue colours of Susan Magnier, the wife of Coolmore Stud’s owner John – she is no mean judge of horseflesh herself, as she loved the colt so much she gave him that dramatic name.
The son of Derby winner Galileo was having only his third outing, but his facile win in the Chester Vase had shown he would stay every yard at Epsom, and at 7-1, in retrospect he had to be the each-way bet of the year.
Epsom was on Royal watch with Her Majesty the Queen in attendance. It was her grandfather King George V’s horse Anmer that suffragette martyr Emily Davison threw herself in front of 100 years ago, and the racecourse duly commemorated that tragic event yesterday.
Wearing the bright blue colours of Godolphin, Dawn Approach seemed to go down to post well, but O’Brien’s son Joseph took Battle of Marengo into the lead after three furlongs.
As they climbed up the famous hill it was clear that Dawn Approach had not settled – something which is absolutely necessary over the 12 furlongs.
As Battle of Marengo led them down towards Tattenham Corner Dawn Approach was all over the place, pulling hard and jinking from side to side, so that jockey Kevin Manning had no choice but to let the favourite go to the front. His race was over a hundred yards into the straight, Dawn Approach simply crumpling and trudging home.
Battle of Marengo galloped on but now we had a different Derby, and his stablemate Ruler Of The World was clearly going best of the rest under Moore, who won the Blue Riband in 2010 on Workforce.
Moore had also won the previous race, the Investec Woodcote stakes, with a brilliant performance on Duke of Firenze, and now he showed that he is the new king of Epsom by producing Ruler Of The World to pass Battle of Marengo and forge clear at precisely the right time.
Libertarian at 14-1 and Galileo Rock at 25-1 ran on late and robbed Battle of Marengo of a place, but up ahead, Ruler Of The World had stayed on to win by a one-and-a-half lengths.
Some pundits did not like the fact that Ruler Of The World was wearing cheek pieces, but O’Brien does his own thing and the winner thus became only the second horse to win the Derby with any kind of headgear, the last one being Aboyeur in that ill-fated running of the race in 1913. O’Brien was humble as always: “We’re just so lucky, we get these incredibly-bred horses and even before they are mated the dream is for this to happen.
“The owners understand the game so much, they are given all the information and usually come up with a plan and we try and carry it out.”
Ryan Moore said: “It was a very messy race. I had no option but to go on when I did. I knew he’d stay the trip very well but I got there a bit soon and he was very green. He’ll get further.”
There was earlier jubilation for the Coolmore-Ballydoyle camp when St Nicholas Abbey made history by becoming the first horse in the 111-year history of the race to win the Investec Coronation Cup for a third time, taking him past £5 million in career earnings.
The trainer’s son Joseph gained another Group 1 success and the small matter of a £200,000 first prize for the Coolmore owners, the horse running in the colours of Derrick Smith, and he also made history for his father who recorded a record seventh win of the Cup, all of them achieved in the last nine runnings.