Betfred Derby (Group 1)

AUGUSTE Rodin (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) bounced back from a poor run in the 2000 Guineas to provide Aidan O’Brien with a ninth victory in the Betfred Derby on Saturday, running down the gallant King Of Steel (Roger Varian/Kevin Stott) who briefly looked to have stolen the contest after a big move early in the straight.

Sent off at 9/2, with Arrest preferred as favourite half a point shorter, Auguste Rodin – like Little Big Bear at Haydock – proved the Guineas showing of the Coolmore horses to be all wrong with what was a hard-fought but impressive victory from an outsider who clearly lived up to the praised lavished on him by his trainer.

Settled in mid-division as stablemates San Antonio and Adelaide River set what was a solid pace initially, Moore was content to bide his time, and after the pace had slackened in the middle section of the contest, it was Stott who made the decisive move on King Of Steel, who got a good run around the inside at Tattenham Corner, and was allowed to stride on, with the big colt opening up impressively to hit the front just after the three-furlong marker.

Took aim

King Of Steel wasn’t long in front before Moore had set down for the drive and took aim at the leader on Auguste Rodin, and with a quarter of a mile left, it was a straight match between the pair.

Auguste Rodin closed inexorably until getting to the front inside the last, and while the runner-up kept on gamely to the line, he was half a length in arrears when it mattered most. White Birch (John Murphy/Colin Keane), last entering the straight, stayed on best of the others for third, five and a quarter lengths behind Auguste Rodin in a race the front two had to themselves in the closing stages.

Total homebred

O’Brien said: “All the people in Coolmore have made this happen – this is a total homebred horse. It’s all credit to them to make this happen every day. He came with a massive reputation as a beautiful horse but he kept stepping up to all the markers all the way, which is very unusual.

“He’s totally unique – he’s out of one of the greatest Galileo mares by the greatest stallion ever in Japan. Ryan said it probably didn’t suit him, he would have preferred a lot stronger pace but he said he had to quicken twice, so obviously he’s so exciting for us.

“I feel so grateful and so delighted for all the lads, everyone. It’s a great pleasure for us to have anything to do with him really.

“In February, Ryan rode him in work and said he was very special, as a two-year-old, so you can imagine what he was like then. His movement was so spectacular and sometimes horses lose that but he never changed the whole way. He’s the most unbelievable economical way of going, his action, temperament and breathing but his movement is just incredible.”

Asked what the plans were for the winner, he replied: “I’m not sure, but obviously these type of horses come here and if they’re good enough we often have a look at the Irish Derby, but the lads make all those decisions. We’ll see how he is, tell the lads and they’ll talk about it, talk to Ryan and then we’ll make a decision.

“I don’t think he had too tough a race as it wasn’t a strong early pace. All those options are open to him.”

Moore said: “We had a smooth run. We landed in a smooth spot, I had William (Buick, on Military Order) and Frankie (Dettori, on Arrest) ahead of me and was always confident I had them covered.

“We didn’t go that quick, it turned in to a bit of a dash, but I was getting a nice smooth run. He was a bit babyish, I always thought I had the race won, but I just had to get into him in the last furlong there and he responded very gamely. He’s done that quite cosily, I think.”

When asked about O’Brien’s effort to get Auguste Rodin to a career high so soon after his flop at Newmarket, Moore said: “He is the only man who could do it. I’ve seen him get horses back. There’s been horses that have run bad in the Guineas and have come back. Roderic O’Connor springs to mind and Qualify ran badly in a Guineas and came and won an Oaks. Aidan can just do things.”

Roger Varian saw Kingston Hill beaten by an O’Brien star in the shape of Australia here a few years ago, and he had a definite sense of déjà vu seeing his King Of Steel in the same situation.

“I knew he was good,” said Varian in the aftermath. “I’m gutted, but that’s horse racing. Hopefully, he’ll come out of the race ok and he’s a very good horse. Credit to the winner though, who is a very good horse.

“I never thought I had it, as I’d been in the same position in 2014 with Kingston Hill, who was clear of the field but you could just see Australia coming to us. Again, I could just see Auguste Rodin coming to us. I hoped when he got to us we would find a bit more, but he ran huge – he’s a very good horse.”

Done deal For Reality

REGAL Reality (Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore) has not always been an easy conveyance, but he was on his best behaviour in taking the Group 3 Diomed Stakes under a cool ride from Ryan Moore.

The eight-year-old was quite a weak 5/1 shot in the betting after disappointing on much softer ground at Newmarket, but sporting the silks of sponsor Peter Done, he bounced back to something like his best to deny the strong-travelling Highland Avenue (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) by three quarters of a length. Kolsai (Roger Varian/David Egan) was third, with the trio clear.

Regal Reality has now won five Group 3 races in five separate seasons, all on good or quicker ground, and while he has his limitations at the top level, that is an enviable record for a horse of his ability, and a tribute to his brilliant and patient trainer.

Last Voyage for Frankie

IT wasn’t to be for Frankie Dettori in the Derby, but he signed off at Epsom with victory aboard Prosperous Voyage (Ralph Beckett) in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.

A slow start wouldn’t have been in the script for a filly who showed her best form last year when making all in the Falmouth Stakes, but Dettori didn’t panic, and gradually let the 6/4 favourite work her way into the race, and she battled well to get to the lead inside the final furlong, scoring by three quarters of a length from outsider Random Harvest (Ed Walker/Saffie Osborne).

“My last one!” said a grinning Dettori. “And we won. She was a bit rusty in the spring. To finish on a winner after riding here over 30 years is brilliant. I’m going to enjoy it. She always runs pretty forward, but she didn’t jump this time.

“She smacked her head in the gates and I was last. It was Plan B then. She has been making the running and perhaps she was sick of it, so she was very brave and the gaps were tight.”

Animal Rising fail to land a blow

MUCH of the build up to the Derby was unfortunately marred by a fear that the race may be stopped before or while it was taking place, with the Animal Rising activist group claiming they would be sending 1,000 protestors to Epsom.

As it transpired, bar one activist making his way onto the track, inexplicably while the race had already begun, the impact of the activists was minimal. That intruder, prominent spokesperson for the group Ben Newman, was swiftly removed by security.

Surrey police reported that 31 arrests related to the protest were made outside and inside of the racecourse and while that likely dented the effect the group were hoping to make - to prevent the race from taking place at all - most estimates stated that there were only around 40 protestors in attendance.

It is likely that the High Court injunction against Animal Rising’s plans to disrupt the Derby Festival was a significant deterrent.

Newman was charged with causing a public nuisance and refused bail on Sunday. He was due to appear before a court on Wednesday for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

It is hard not to conclude it was a bad day for Animal Rising, who again were given a disproportionate amount of air time on various platforms last week but were well discredited either by hosts or representatives from the sport of horse racing. Significantly, it was well publicised that the group’s beliefs extend to banning people from having any sort of pet at home.

One of their spokes people said that disrupting the race while it had begun would be “an absolute red line for us” but that line was jumped and rightfully condemned by the Jockey Club as “deplorable, reckless and dangerous behaviour.”

Fair dues to the Jockey Club, whose meeting with Animal Rising was an eye-raising move but key in them getting the High Court injunction granted, while they also spent €150,000 in security measures.

It seems likely that Animal Rising will continue to hassle and pester racing this summer, but they seemed to lose credibility last week, with British racing standing up to them.

Carmichael in clover as Navello lands long-term plan

OWNER Fiona Carmichael is having a fabulous year, with Jessica Harrington already training her four winners in Ireland this season, but she scooped her biggest success yet when Navello surged home late to claim the Aston Martin “Dash” under Andrea Atzeni.

Trained by George Boughey, the 25/1 shot came down the centre of the track and poked his head in front late in the final furlong, denying the Middleham Park-owned pair of Silky Wylkie and Clarendon House by a short head and head respectively, in a typical blanket finish.

This was a fine achievement from Boughey, who had this race in mind since last year.

He said: “He likes fast ground and I thought a stiff pace would probably suit him. It was a bit of a nervy last furlong, but he’s progressive. He was still very immature last year; I know he was an early two-year-old, but I was pretty keen to persuade Fiona to keep him in training and she bought the other shareholders out, with this race in mind, so it’s nice when a plan comes off.”

After the race it transpired that four stalls (16, 18, 19 and 20) opened fractionally slower than the remainder due to Alligator Alley (14) forcing his stalls to open earlier which caused a malfunction.

The incident caused much furore on racing social media and with connections of the affected horses, not least the favourite Live In The Moment (20), whose rider Kieran O’Neill lost an iron briefly when he did eventually get out of the stalls. There were calls for a void race but it has subsequently been understood that the stewards only became aware of the incident after the jockeys had weighed in and the result made official. They decided to take no action.

The Aston Martin 3YO “Dash” went to Tatterstall for Conor Beasley and Michael Dods. The son of Bungle Inthejungle came up the stands’ side rail with a sustained effort to wear down Miss Brazen and Dickieburd.

Though only seventh on his previous run at York, he was beaten less than three lengths, and this being just his seventh ever start, so he has a progressive profile now.

One of his part-owners nearly missed the presentation as he couldn’t find the winner’s enclosure. Dave Stone said: “I asked every steward where the winner’s enclosure was, but nobody knew. I had £500 each-way on him at 9/1!”