A brilliant winner of the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, the son of New Approach then finished third behind red-hot Investec Derby favourite Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas.
However, stepping up to a mile and a half on Saturday, 16-1 shot Masar, who was ridden by William Buick, reversed that form emphatically in the world’s most famous Flat race, providing trainer Charlie Appleby with his first Classic success and ending Sheikh Mohammed’s long wait for a Derby winner in the royal blue silks of Godolphin.
Speaking yesterday, Appleby said: “We had a quiet night and the horse pulled out well this morning. It still hasn’t completely sunk in, to be honest. It was a fantastic result for everyone involved and as many people have said already, it’s great for racing.
“Coolmore and Ballydoyle are doing what they’re doing and fair play to them. They’re very sporting people and they’ve congratulated us, too.
“I said last week I felt he [Masar] was a big price. Obviously there was a question mark about the trip and I suppose the fact the trainer hadn’t trained a Classic winner before contributed, too!”
Asked about future targets, the trainer added: “Myself and Sheikh Mohammed watched the replays together last night and I think we’re both on the same page. We’ll see how he is and how he comes out of the race, but he stayed the mile and a half well and I think the Irish Derby is the obvious place to go. We have no reason to come back in trip at the moment.”
In the wake of Masar’s success on Saturday, Appleby said: “I’ve been with Godolphin for 20 years now. I’ve seen plenty of things come and go and fortunately when I was appointed trainer five years ago the goal was to have a Derby winner in the Godolphin blue. I’m just delighted to be here and part of it.”
Although Sheikh Mohammed, pictured, has tasted glory in many major races across the globe, this success was up there with the very best in his eyes.
He said: “It’s amazing to win the Derby. We have tried to win the Derby so many times and to finally win the race is very special. William gave him a lovely ride and horses are in my blood, so it’s very special.”
For Buick, who has finished second in the race on two previous occasions, it was also mission accomplished. He said: “It’s something really special winning the Derby. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, the Holy Grail, the be all and end all and it means the absolute world to me.”
Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion ran with great credit in second and third respectively, although hot favourite Saxon Warrior was ultimately disappointing in fourth.
Aidan O’Brien was keen to keep the faith with his 2000 Guineas hero, however, and he could meet Masar once more in the Irish Derby.
Frankie Dettori emphatically dispelled rumours of his impending retirement after steering Wilamina to victory in the Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes. He said: “I’m not retiring. There is a rumour going around saying that I’m going to retire after the Derby. I’m definitely not retiring and you definitely have another five years of putting up with me.”
The action yesterday centred on Chantilly, where Study Of Man claimed Classic glory in the Qipco Prix du Jockey Club.
Pascal Bary’s colt was among the leading contenders following an impressive display in the Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud last month and was always travelling strongly in midfield. He began to reel in the leaders early in the home straight under Stephane Pasquier and battled his way to the lead inside the final furlong.
Several horses attempted to peg him back as the post loomed, but Study Of Man, a son of Deep Impact, clung on for victory.
Betfair cut the winner to 20-1 from 33-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October.