Kirby stars as Adayar powers to Derby glory

Adayar sprang a 16-1 surprise as he came home a wide-margin winner of the Cazoo Derby under a jubilant Adam Kirby at Epsom.

Trained by Charlie Appleby and only ridden by Kirby after he lost the ride on John Leeper to Frankie Dettori, the Godolphin-owned son of Frankel shot clear in the final furlong to give his handler a second win after Masar in 2018.

Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star, a 50-1 chance, ran a huge race to be four and a half lengths away in second, with the winner’s stablemate Hurricane Lane another three and a quarter lengths back in third.

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Gear Up set the early gallop, with Kirby on his heels aboard Adayar and Youth Spirit also prominent in the early stages.

Hot favourite Bolshoi Ballet was also towards the head of the field, settled in fourth on the outside, while the well-fancied John Leeper was restrained in last place by Dettori until the field reached Tattenham Corner.

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Gear Up started to drop away with two furlongs to run, allowing Kirby a run up the inside rail and he soon put daylight between himself and the field.

Mojo Star finished well from off the pace, with Hurricane Lane also keeping on at the one pace for minor honours, but Aidan O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet and the Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper were both ultimately well-beaten.

Kirby was struggling to comprehend his achievement following the race.

He said: “There’s been ups and downs, it’s racing, but when it comes to Charlie Appleby, he’s a top man. I can’t thank him enough. He’s a real gentleman and a great trainer. It’s quite unbelievable really – I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

“It’s a Derby. He ran well in the Lingfield Derby Trial and that was obviously good form – we can all be wiser after the event.

“I got in (on the rail) and luckily the horse was brave enough to go through with it – he galloped up to the line and out through it.

“It’s a marvellous day. I hope my mother was watching.”

Appleby admitted he had his doubts about Adayar tackling the Derby, but Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed was keen to let the colt have his Classic chance.

Trainer Charlie Appleby celebrates with the trophy at Epsom
Trainer Charlie Appleby celebrates with the trophy at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

The trainer said: “I’m delighted for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and Team Godolphin, being a home-bred as well and Frankel having his first Derby winner.

“I’m delighted for Adam. He knows him as well as anyone as he broke all three of the runners in.

“To win the way he has done, he’s stamped his authority there among the three-year-old middle-distance horses. We’ll just take a breath, let the dust settle and regroup. It will be interesting to see what the boys say about the other pair (Hurricane Run and One Ruler, who was sixth) as well.

“I had a conversation with His Highness on Wednesday and I sort of put it up there that Adayar would be more of a staying horse and, thankfully, he put me straight back where I should be and said ‘no Charlie, there’s only one Derby and you need to stay in the Derby’.”

Adam Kirby celebrates at Epsom
Adam Kirby celebrates at Epsom (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

Oisin Murphy had been asked to partner Adayar, but given Appleby’s long-standing relationship with Kirby, he changed the riding plans.

Appleby said: “Adam is a huge part of the team, he’s been with us since I started and does a lot on the racing side, breaks some of our horses in. I have to say Oisin was very professional when he took the news.

“Once Adam was available, I was always going to offer the ride to him, and Oisin said ‘I know what you’re going to say and I understand’, so a big thanks to him for being a true sportsman.”

Appleby admitted he felt Adayar might be more suited to a stamina test.

He said: “They all looked great and were training well and I couldn’t give a negative to any of them coming in, but I felt one horse was going to be a more of a Leger horse and that was him – I’m not saying we won’t see him there yet.

“He’s a big horse and I wouldn’t say we’re going to rush to anything yet. I think we’ll take this on and just sit back – they’re nice discussions to have of where we go next.”

Masar won the Derby three years ago for Appleby
Masar won the Derby three years ago for Appleby (Adam Davy/PA)

The trainer believes his first Derby win three years ago provided some valuable insight ahead of a second success.

He added: “When you’re in the position I’m in and have the horses I have in your care, the expectations are always there and when you have your first Derby winner it’s a surreal moment and there’s also a sort of sense of relief that you’ve ticked off one of the boxes of what you’re employed to do.

“So coming into today’s Derby, everyone was a bit more relaxed – but as I always say, unless you’ve driven a Ferrari you don’t know what one is like, and until you’ve won a Derby you don’t really know what sort of horse you need to win a Derby.

“So thankfully we’re in a position now to learn what horses are needed and we have a great team sourcing horses for us to train.”