By Nicholas Godfrey
So you know Serpentine stunned everyone with an astounding Investec Derby victory behind closed doors at Epsom on Saturday. You’ve also probably marvelled at stablemate Love in the Oaks – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know after an extraordinary afternoon.
What’s going on?
25-1, 50-1, 66-1: yes, it was a shock result
It wasn’t only the identity of the 25-1 Investec Derby winner Serpentine that was a shock: just look at the starting prices of Khalifa Sat and Amhran Na Bhfiann, who finished second and third. They were 50-1 and 66-1 respectively. The tricast paid £55,977.83 to a £1 stake.
Serpentine: St Leger and Arc mentioned in dispatches
Like his spectacular Oaks-winning stablemate Love, the all-the-way Derby winner could have either or both the St Leger and Prix de l”Arc de Triomphe on his autumnal agenda.
“We always thought he’d stay very well and I don’t think he’d have any problem getting the St Leger trip, if that’s what the lads decide to do,” said Aidan O’Brien.
“He could be an Arc horse – that’s in the autumn and the ground could be soft, I don’t think he’d have any problem with that.
“Love is a beautiful mover and I don’t think you’d want to be going in deep ground with her, but this horse should handle it, so it’s very possible.”
There was considerable variance in bookmaker responses to Serpentine’s victory. Paddy Power’s first show made him 25-1 for the Arc, whereas Coral make him 7-1 third favourite. He is also Coral’s 5-2 favourite for the St Leger, with Love a 9-2 chance.
St Leger betting (Coral): 5-2 Serpentine, 11-4 Santiago, 9-2 Love, 7 Tiger Moth, 10 English King, Khalifa Sat, 12 Military March, Russian Emperor, 16 bar.
Arc betting (Coral): 9-2 Enable, 6 Love, 7 Serpentine, 12 Victor Ludorum, 14 Logician, 16 Ghaiyyath, Japan, Kameko, Sottsass, 20 Alpine Star, Daring Tact, Pinatubo, Stradivarius, 25 bar.
History for record-breaking Aidan O’Brien
An hour after landing his eighth Oaks with Love, Aidan O’Brien set a new all-time record for Derby victories thanks to Serpentine’s extraordinary 5½-length triumph – only seven days after the colt had broken his maiden at the Curragh.
“We are so delighted,” said the Ballydoyle trainer. “We are in a very privileged position to have such unbelievable horses and such unbelievably well-bred horses. We are working with special people. It is a position very few people will ever get into. The horses have such incredible pedigrees, top and bottom.”
O’Brien’s previous Derby winners are Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler of the World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings of Eagles (2017) and Anthony Van Dyck (2019). He last completed the Oaks/Derby double in 2012 with Camelot and Was.
Galileo, who sired both Love and Serpentine, is now the most successful Derby sire of all time with five winners. His other scorers are New Approach (2008), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014) and Anthony Van Dyck (2019).
Emmet McNamanara: ‘I got a little bit of a freebie’
Ballydoyle backroom boy Emmet McNamara hadn’t ridden a winner of any kind since October last year before getting what he described as “a little bit of a freebie” in the Derby on Serpentine. “I’ve been saving myself,” grinned the 30-year-old.
“Things are very tough getting rides in Ireland and I’m in Aidan’s every morning, so I’m not going here, there and everywhere to ride out.”
Quarantine beckons for winning rider
Narrowly denied victory seven days earlier on Irish Derby runner-up Tiger Moth, Emmet McNamara goes to France on Sunday to ride Fort Myers in the Prix du Jockey Club – after which he will return to Ireland for 14 days’ quarantine due to the current travel restrictions in place to combat coronavirus.
“I told Aidan I wouldn’t mind 14 months in quarantine, never mind 14 days!” he said. “Hopefully it will be another big day in Chantilly. I’ll have ridden in three Derbys in little over a week, which is crazy really, but I’m just glad to have the opportunity.
“I’m sure I’ll be OK in quarantine for 14 days – it will give me plenty of time to watch the replays!”
Kameko to cut back in trip
Andrew Balding said the 2,000 Guineas winner will not be asked to run 1m4f again after the 5-2 favourite was beaten into fourth. “That will be his last run at a mile and a half,” said the trainer. “Kameko ran well to a point – Oisin [Murphy] just felt he emptied out a little bit late on.
“We had to give it a go,” added Balding, who also saddled second-placed Khalifa Sat. “Sheikh Fahad is a proper sportsman and he’ll take it on the chin. He’s got a Guineas winner who’s going to be very exciting over a mile and quarter later in the summer.”
Oaks: fillies’ Triple Crown under consideration for Love
The Irish Oaks (July 18) is the likely next target for nine-length Oaks winner Love and Aidan O’Brien was quick to mention the Arc in the autumn. However, there is a serious possibility the dual Classic winner may bid to emulate Oh So Sharp by attempting to complete the fillies’ Triple Crown in the St Leger.
“There’s always a chance with the lads,” said O’Brien. ‘They always put the horse first but they’re never afraid of everything so there’s every chance.
“We will wait and see what is next and the lads will decide that, but obviously the Irish Oaks is a possibility,” he added. “I guess it will all depend on how she comes out of today and whether she has a midsummer break now or gets in another run and has a break after that, but the Arc has to be a definite possibility.
“The St Leger comes three weeks or a month before the Arc, so would it be too tough for a filly to do that and then go on to the Arc? I don’t know, but I suppose we will see how she trains and what the lads want to do.”
Frankly Darling ‘didn’t handle the track’
According to Frankie Dettori, Love’s only serious market rival Frankly Darling did not enjoy the contours of Epsom. “The track was not for her,” he said. “She just started hanging and all sorts.”
John Gosden agreed. “Frankly Darling ran a good race, she just didn’t handle the track, and got in a muddle down the hill,” he said. “He [Dettori] felt on a flat track she would have been second – but she would never have beaten the winner.”
Shall we talk about it?
Aidan O’Brien (Serpentine’s trainer): “It’s unbelievable really, we always thought he would stay very well. We try to give each horse the best chance of winning and ride them all accordingly. This horse made the running last time and was very happy to go forward if nobody else wanted to. He won a maiden very impressively and he absolutely ran through the line over a mile and a quarter at the Curragh – to do that you have to have class.
“We all watched the race together at home and Donnacha said after five furlongs ‘Emmet wins here’. He was in front and there was no one going to challenge him – he was not going to stop. Emmet gave him a brilliant ride and judged the pace really well.”
Emmet McNamara (Serpentine’s jockey): “I think I got a little bit of a freebie! I had a huge amount of confidence in the horse having spoken to Aidan during the week. He filled me with confidence and said that he is a horse that is going to stay a mile and six furlongs for you well. He said jump, go your own tempo, from halfway after you give him a breather from the six to the five, you keep building to that winning post, he will keep going. God, he was right!”
Paul Smith (son of Derrick Smith of Coolmore partnership, Serpentine’s owners): “When you have Galileo and you have Aidan, anything is possible. It really is. Aidan knew he would stay well, we knew that, they let him go and he just ran for fun.
“It was an incredible race to watch, I was very, very hopeful because I knew he would get home, I really did. Once they let him alone, I thought this is going to be interesting.”
Andrew Balding (trainer of Khalifa Sat and Kameko): “It was a funny race but I’m thrilled with Khalifa Sat, who ran an honest, sound race – he’s a very promising horse, very exciting for the future. Kameko ran well enough up to a point. Oisin was a little bit cross with himself but I don’t know why – maybe he thought he just gave the leader too much rope but I think we’ll certainly be dripping back in trip. It’s a little bit deflating. Fair play to Aidan – he’s got the ammo and he knows how to use it.”
Oisin Murphy (Kameko’s jockey): “I am thrilled for Emmet McNamara. He has been part of Ballydoyle for a number of years and is a top-class jockey. The winner got a very enterprising ride. I wasn’t making any ground late – if anything I was stopping.”
Ed Walker (English King’s trainer): “The way the race panned out was frustrating, purely and simply. I am thrilled with everything – proud as punch of the horse, Frankie did well from a difficult draw. I have got no excuses, just a frustrating race. A Derby with no pace – there is no such thing these days, really – and we needed pace. But I am proud of the horse, he has run great. My first Derby experience; he has hit the line hard, another 50 yards and he might have been second.”
Ryan Moore (Love’s jockey): “We’ve always thought she’s very good and she proved that in the Guineas, but today she’s taken a step forward. This filly, she’s very special, I think; I don’t know how far she won by but it felt like a very long way. She was exceptional today, and hopefully she has got plenty to look forward to in the future. She would be a threat to anything. Almost her best furlong was her last furlong. She wasn’t stopping at all, she actually got down to the rail and picked up again. She is very good – very very good.”
Aidan O’Brien (Love’s trainer): “This filly is very special – it’s very hard that you could ever have a better filly. You saw what she did in the Guineas – winning by three or four lengths – and she doubled it today.
“We always felt she’d get a mile and a quarter well and she’s very genuine and tries hard, so we were always hoping the extra distance was going to improve her. She was working incredibly well – her last few canters during the week were incredible, really.”
Paul Smith (son of Derrick Smith of Coolmore partnership, Love’s owners): “Crikey, that was impressive. She seemed to grow a leg when she went the extra half-mile today. Galileo is phenomenal. We are so lucky to have him, so blessed every year he turns out these champions. He is an honour to be involved with.”
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