Where better to start the first day of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations than at one of her favourite haunts the annual meting at Epsom of the World’s most famous and important horse race, The Derby. Literally hundreds of thousands of people turned out on a glorious day for racing and the place was decked out in red, white and blue and of course the union jack to commemorate the occasion. But getting down to the business of the racing itself what a couple of days it has been for Aiden O’brien and his all conquering Ballydoyle team. The main attraction The Derby itself was won by the classy Camelot. In a race that was made up of only 9 runners there was plenty of room for the horses to take their preferred position from an early stage and it was ran at a reasonable pace. 5 furlongs out one of O’Briens other horses, Astrology had taken the race up and looked to be running well being able to hold off Main Sequence and a host of other horses closing in. But in the final few furlongs Camelot sprouted wings and in a few strides easily brushed his stable mate aside in impressive fashion. He kept going clear and finally crossed the line a whopping 5 lengths ahead of the running-on Main Sequence who in turn pipped Astrology by another length. In doing so he prevented a 1-2 for O’brien who won his first English Derby for 10 years.
There were also some nice side stories to accompany the main prize. Firstly Aiden O’Brien ‘s son Joseph rode the winner home to become the first Father-Son/trainer-rider combination in the 233 year history of the race. There were fantastic scenes all round as his mother couldn’t contain her emotions at watching her son create such a piece of history. Secondly for one of the 4 main owners at the Ballydoyle stables, Derek Smith, it was his first Derby success after finishing runner-up in the 4 years previous and in winning reached the 100 mark as an owner in which the winning horse was carrying his colours. At Ballydoyle whatever owners name is first on the list will carry that owners colours for the race. A very softly spoken Aiden was full of admiration for his son’s achievement but as always included praise for every member of the Ballydoyle stud as he is so adamant for all to know it is always a group effort.
Camelot’s win topped off a wonderful weekend at the Derby meeting for O’Brien and co. having won all group 1 races on offer. St. Nicholas Abbey was as impressive in dismantling the field to win the Coronation cup. The day before that was another classic, The Oaks, and the first of the 3 big races of the weekend. Was (horse’s name) wasn’t as impressive as her male counterparts but nevertheless got the job done. Today’s Derby win was Aiden O’Briens and Ballydoyle’s 4th classic of the season from the 4 on offer adding the 1,000 Guineas and 2000 guineas to the Oaks and Derby And so it will be on to the St. Leger at Doncaster to try to complete the first classics clean sweep since the great Nijinsky in 1970. The bookies have her at 1/3 on to complete all five. Irish horse racing has been going through a golden age for the best part of 10 years constantly winning all the big races in both jumps and flat and they don’t look like stopping any time soon. It’s only 2 years ago that John Oxx’s Sea The Stars went into the history books and folklore winning the 2000 Guineas, The Derby and the arc’ treble something never done before and considered by many to be never repeated again. Fingers crossed Aiden and the team can complete the full house in September.