ADam Kirby’s uplifting triumph over Adayar, after he was dumped from his original partner in favor of Frankie Dettori, has been one of the best and most memorable Derby stories of recent years. Whether the race itself is seen in similar terms, or even as an above-average renewal of our most famous Classic, remains uncertain to say the least.
Few could argue that Adayar was the best horse of the day in some way, a point he underscored as he attacked the final climb to the winning post with real pleasure. Dante’s previously undefeated winner Hurricane Lane was back in third after looking a little uncomfortable on the track and losing both of his front shoes. And if the sight of Mojo Star, a two-run maiden, finishing second raised some questions about form, Richard Hannon’s colt deserves at least a chance or two to show that his run was no fluke.
But there is only one Derby, and the Bolshoi Ballet’s failure to show anything close to its form in Derrinstown at Leopardstown last month was a disappointing setback to Kirby’s jubilation. The subsequent discovery that the 11-8 favorite had been knocked out at an early stage is a plausible explanation for his loss, but leaves an obvious question mark over the ultimate value of form.
In previous years, the frontrunner was said to have been sent into the race with support from Operation Coolmore-Ballydoyle – to offer insurance against such an incident and also against the odds that a less advertised son of Galileo would improve considerably. for a step up to a mile and a half. Instead, they relied solely on the Bolshoi Ballet to get the job done, an abandonment of the ârun everything with a glowâ policy of recent seasons that has had a significant impact on the race.
The most obvious beneficiary was Kirby, who was only kicked out of John Leeper when high definition – the winter favorite for the Derby – was surprisingly ruled out three days before the race and Dettori was suddenly available.
But it was also a Derby that looked and felt quite different without the usual participation of Aidan O’Brien’s team. Few classics in Britain and Ireland these days go without at least one, and often two, Ballydoyle riders controlling the pace, and it made a refreshing change to see different colors leading the turn home.
At the same time, however, the sight of 11 runners – the smallest field in nine years – heading for Tattenham Corner was a reminder that most Derbys over the past 20 years would have had equally small contingents without Coolmore’s participation.
Time may show that the Bolshoi Ballet were unhappy on Saturday, but even if they beat Adayar in the Irish derby – and there is no certainty that either of the foals will run at the Curragh – his only chance to win the original (and best) version is gone. .
His loss turned out to be the only significant setback for O’Brien this weekend, however, as the coach’s failure to win a ninth Derby on Saturday was followed by a first success in the French equivalent at Chantilly. Sunday. Last year’s Dewhurst winner St Mark’s Basilica recorded a comfortable quarter-hour success, leaving O’Brien two-for-three in the weekend classics after Snowfall’s dominant victory in the Oaks Friday.
The reasoning behind the âguysâ decision to send only the Bolshoi Ballet to Epsom is to be seen. Maybe they just considered him unbeatable. But it is also possible that they no longer see multiple entries as desirable. Instead, they – and their rivals at Godolphin – may now want to focus on one horse, the ârightâ type of Derby winner, with speed as a strong point and just enough stamina to last. the House. For at least another year, the research continues.