| 16°C Belfast

New stars emerge on a weekend with everything

Investec Derby


Surprise package: jockey Emmet McNamara celebrates with derby winner Serpentine

Surprise package: jockey Emmet McNamara celebrates with derby winner Serpentine


Surprise package: jockey Emmet McNamara celebrates with derby winner Serpentine

Serpentine and Ghaiyyath gloriously confounded expectations on a remarkable and unique weekend of racing.

Love kickstarted Aidan O'Brien's Saturday afternoon Classic double, completed roughly inside the time-frame of a concurrent programme of Premier League matches by Serpentine's shock Investec Derby win.

Yet it says it all about the highest quality condensed into two breathless days of action that the Oaks heroine must settle for third billing, despite dominating her age group even more so than she had in the 1000 Guineas last month.

Instead, it was Serpentine's surreal 25-1 victory - by five and a half lengths, from the front and chased home by two even bigger-priced outsiders - which left a cavernously quiet Epsom aghast at what was witnessed by the few permitted admission during ongoing social-distancing protocols.

The majority of broadcast audiences were doubtless stunned too after Emmet McNamara stole a 12-length advantage three furlongs out on yet another Ballydoyle son of Galileo who then duly did what he was always likely to do best - stay the Derby trip emphatically.

A host of better-fancied rivals, some ridden with tactical restraint to try to preserve unproven stamina, never got remotely into winning contention.

A day later, 20 miles up the road, another shock was in store.

If those at Sandown had gathered in the hope that order would be reassuringly restored by Enable's successful defence of her Coral-Eclipse crown, Ghaiyyath was having none of it as he too made all and stayed on powerfully to beat the great mare by two and a quarter lengths as the 9-4 second favourite.

Enable's trainer John Gosden had warned the even-money favourite would improve significantly for her first race since finishing second in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - and he was reading a very similar script in valiant defeat afterwards.

Her many supporters can therefore reasonably retain optimism for this month's King George at Ascot, and another bid for a historic third Arc too - after a result somewhat easier to interpret than the tale of the unexpected with which Serpentine flummoxed a raft of racing brains.

British raider Mishriff provided trainer John Gosden with his first victory in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.

Belfast Telegraph