Ruler of the World (second right) takes things up inside the final furlongPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
World rules as Dawn disappoints in Derby
Report: Epsom, Saturday
Investec Derby (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo entire colts & fillies
THE big question going into the Derby was whether or not Dawn Approach would stay. If he did, the result was expected to be emphatic.
Yet the only thing emphatic about the 5-4 favourite's performance was just how disappointing it was, fading tamely out of the equation to finish a distant last as the Aidan O'Brien-trained Ruler Of The World passed the line in front.
"It is just incredible," said O'Brien. "We are so lucky to be in the position that we are in, to get such horses. They are incredibly bred horses and the dream is for this to happen."
The race revolved around Dawn Approach but he was in obvious trouble from the start, pulling hard and refusing to settle as the field climbed to the highest part of the course. They went no sort of gallop and the favourite suffered as a result.
As they crested the hill Kevin Manning took the brave decision to let his mount have his head in a bid to get him to settle and coming round the outside of the field on Tattenham Corner the pair made such headway they led the Derby field into the home straight.
But no sooner had they hit the front than they started to go backwards. Joseph O'Brien and Battle Of Marengo reasserted and as soon as they did Manning knew the game was up.
Dawn Approach burned so much energy fighting his jockey in the early stages, whether or not he stayed never really came into question. He was beaten with three furlongs to go and as the race heated up, the favourite exited via the back door.
"He just didn't settle," said Bolger. "There was no pace and even when Kevin got him back in behind he was climbing on horses' heels. When he pulled him out there was nothing there. I doubt you will see him again at a mile and a half.
"Kevin said he jumped out all right and was okay for about ten strides but then there wasn't much pace on, he grabbed his bridle and from there on he was more or less out of control. He has been running over a mile where they've been jumping out at a strong pace."
It left the race delicately poised, suddenly everyone all too aware they could win the Derby. With the field spread wide across the course, O'Brien and Battle Of Marengo at the head of affairs on the rail, a fascinating finale became a very real prospect.
Seven horses all had realistic claims entering the final few furlongs, but it was Ruler Of The World, who burst to the front under Moore, who was able to hold them all off.
Ruler Of The World: good attitudePICTURE: Edward Whitaker
"It was a very tactical race," said Moore. "I had a handyish spot and he quickened up impressively. He got there very quickly and easily, showed a good attitude and put his head down."
Libertarian finished fastest down the outside to steal second close home, while Galileo Rock also swamped Battle Of Marengo close home to rob him of a place.
There was a length and a half between Ruler Of The World and his nearest challenger at the line, but with a short-head and a short-head separating Libertarian, Galileo Rock and Battle Of Marengo, it was a thrilling finish.
Karl Burke, assistant trainer to wife Elaine, said of Libertarian: "That was unbelievable. With any pace in the race he'd have won. We can't complain. It was a fantastic run and he's come so far in three runs. He lived up to all of our expectations and more.
"Back in January we thought he was just a nice raw staying type. It's unbelievable, and fair play to the whole team, who have done a great job.
"What a nice horse to look forward to for the future. He could well go to the Curragh but he'll have to be supplemented, although that's to our advantage in a way as we can just sit back for now. Obviously the St Leger would be nice."
David Wachman said of Galileo Rock: "He's a smart horse and we're very happy with that. He's still very babyish and ran green and rolled about a bit in the final stages of the race.
"He's travelled nicely though and the slow pace wouldn't have suited him that well as they didn't go a gallop at all. I'd think he will improve for this run but I don't know where he'll end up next."
William Hill's St Leger market reflects the Derby result. Ruler Of The World is the 2-1 favourite, with Galileo Rock 4-1, Libertarian 5-1, Battle Of Marengo 6-1 and Talent, Friday's Oaks heroine, 8-1. BetVictor make Libertarian their 3-1 favourite, with Ruler Of The World 9-2 and Galileo Rock 5-1.
Dawn Approach was expected to dominate in the 2013 Derby, maintaining his unbeaten record and stamping his class on his peers. But he didn't, and in failing to live up to expectations, a far more exciting finish was played out, with seven horses crossing the line within four lengths of each other.
Paddy Power reacted by going 8-1 about the Derby winner following up in the Arc, while BetVictor went 6-1 for the same contest.