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Epsom hero Masar looks set to target Derby double


Winner alright: William Buick pilots Masar to Derby victory
Winner alright: William Buick pilots Masar to Derby victory

By Thomas Kelly

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh is the most likely next port of call for Masar following his heroics at Epsom on Saturday.

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 2,000 Guineas.

However, stepping up to a mile and a half, Masar 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.

"We had a quiet night and the horse pulled out well this morning," said Appleby yesterday. "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."

Bookmakers were spared a multi-million payout when 16/1 shot Masar gave Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, his first Epsom Derby win as an owner as the heavily-backed odds-on shot Saxon Warrior could trail in only fourth.

The winning owner had his first winner at Brighton in 1977. In the intervening 41 years, he has become by some margin the largest investor in the history of the sport, buying up tracts of Newmarket and Kentucky, the finest studs around the world, building racecourses in Dubai and paying top dollar for the best bloodstock.

The Derby was the one race which had eluded him either as an owner or breeder.

Though Saeed Bin Suroor, one of Godolphin's two trainers, sent out Lammtarra to win it in 1995, the colt officially carried the colours of a relation, not the outfit's famous royal blue silks.

Well positioned in the middle of the pack just on the outside of Saxon Warrior, as Knight To Behold and Kew Gardens cut out the pace, William Buick gave Masar some daylight once round Tattenham Corner and at the top of the home straight.

The chestnut started running on strongly and looked the likely winner three furlongs out.

Having waited before pushing the button on Masar, Buick hit the front two furlongs out and galloped home to beat Dee Ex Bee by a length and a half.

Buick, who has been first jockey for Godolphin since 2015, said: "He handled Tattenham Corner well and when I pulled him out to give him a look at the straight he came alive underneath me. It was just a case of timing my run."

A delighted Sheikh Mohammed, who also had the satisfaction of having wintered Masar in Dubai, said: "It's amazing to win the Derby. We have tried to win it so many times. To finally win is very special. Horses are my blood so it is a special moment."

With Saxon Warrior only fourth - jockey Ryan Moore unable to put his finger on why the colt failed to fire - none of Aidan O'Brien's other four runners in the money, Frankie Dettori, the 'housewives' choice' only fifth, and the 16/1 winner friendless in the market, it was a terrific result for bookmakers.

Belfast Telegraph


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