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Derby analysis: 'He's better than this', 'Don't give up on him', 'Eclipse next'

Mark Brown picks out the Epsom also-rans who should do better next time

Adayar won the Derby, but who is worth watching from those in behind?
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The Derby has become more random in recent years and there was another turn up on Saturday with horses available at 50-1 and 200-1 earlier in the day coming clear and the favourite flopping.

Mohaafeth was withdrawn due to the ground and hard to be enthusiastic over the form, Charlie Appleby conceding afterwards that Adayar, who provided a slap in the face for the stall 1 statistics, was considered a St Leger horse who may have gone for the Queen's Vase had he not run here, with a maiden chasing him home and nearly all the fancied runners failing to live up to expectations.

The pace was far from frantic, with several racing keenly, yet the race still fell apart somewhat.

Cazoo Derby: full result and race replay


Adayar looked a potential Derby winner when ploughing through heavy ground to win by nine lengths at Nottingham last October, and again when coming from off the pace (against a bias) to finish second in the Classic Trial at Sandown in April, but a disappointing reverse behind Third Realm in the Lingfield Trial, after which his trainer suggested he may not even turn up here, altered that view and he was widely available at big odds in the build up to the race with him looking the clear Appleby third-string.

He was being considered for the Queen's Vase had he not run here (trainer took some convincing to run him) but thankfully for connections, especially Adam Kirby who'd been elbowed off John Leeper, he was allowed to take his chance as he galloped right away from them hard against the far rail, providing the great Frankel with a first Derby win as a sire.

He had a perfect position throughout and the gap opened at just the right time, whereas things weren't going so well for the market leaders on his outside, but this big, strong sort shouldn't be crabbed too much and will presumably be taken to the Curragh next, where the track will suit.

Mojo Star

Mojo Star, narrowly denied in maiden (1m2f) and novice (1m) contests at Newbury seven months apart, looked the definition of a Derby no-hoper but the son of Sea The Stars showed greatly improved form going 1m4f for the first time, readily moving through the field and finishing a clear second. The race fell apart somewhat but he's clearly a useful performer and it'll be interesting to see if he's given his chance back in a maiden/novice next or goes on to the next big battle. His performance could be worth upgrading as he was struck into, too. 

Hurricane Lane: finished third despite appearing not to handle the track

Hurricane Lane

Hurricane Lane, the apparent Appleby first-string who had reportedly worked most favourably against the winner recently, was the only unbeaten runner in the field, making it 3-3 in the Dante, but having initially looked to be in the ideal position he raced somewhat awkwardly climbing up the hill, losing a couple of lengths, and hardly looked a natural descending it into the straight. He ran with credit and very much remains a promising middle-distance three-year-old. He also lost both front shoes.

Mac Swiney

Mac Swiney had been hammered by Bolshoi Ballet in the Derrinstown before showing his toughness and bouncing back to win a soft-ground Irish 2,000 Guineas two weeks ago. He could have done with the rain from 24 hours earlier, but travelled kindly and handled the track, just not picking up with it looking doubtful he wants to go this far. He could be the sort to rock up in an Eclipse.

Third Realm

Third Realm was twinkle-toed in skipping around Lingfield to beat Adayar on testing ground in the trial there, but the early stages of the race didn't go his way here and, although, staying on, he was never a threat. He's better than this and is entered in the King Edward VII.

Third Realm: beat Adayar at Lingfield and didn't get the luck of the draw this time around

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One Ruler

One Ruler, the third and final Appleby runner, was closely matched with Mac Swiney on Group 1 two-year-old form, but he'd been comfortably held in the 2,000 Guineas on reappearance and never threatened to get into this, upped four furlongs in trip and looking less than happy down the camber.

Bolshoi Ballet

Bolshoi Ballet was most disappointing. Much had been made of the fact he was O'Brien's first sole Derby representative since 2004 (Meath; finished well beaten) with the other five remaining entrants, including long-time favourite High Definition, being deemed surplus to requirements at declaration time, but he got sweaty beforehand, raced three wide seeing plenty of daylight, and was done with over two furlongs out. Clearly not the same horse who'd impressively taken apart the Derrinstown last month, he could have done without the watering and rain the course had seen in the run up to the race and it might be a different story back on a fast surface, but perhaps most importantly it emerged he'd been struck into in the early stages of the race.

Bolshoi Ballet: has an excuse for running so poorly in the Derby

Youth Spirit

Youth Spirit won a weak Chester Vase and had his limitations exposed here. He's in the King Edward VII.

John Leeper

John Leeper was mighty impressive in winning a Newcastle novice in April, but not so much in winning a Listed event at Newmarket next time (both races 1m2f) when admittedly overcoming the fact he failed to settle, but this occasion on such an idiosyncratic track always seemed likely to prove beyond his level of maturity at such an early stage of his career and, following a brief and rather wide move rounding Tattenham Corner, he was done with three furlongs out. Looked after late on, there'll hopefully be other days for this exceptionally well bred three-year-old.

Gear Up

Gear Up, a French Group 1 winner on testing ground at two, where he had Bolshoi Ballet behind, was a bit disappointing in the Dante on reappearance and he cut out quickly here having made the running. Back to the drawing board.

Southern Lights

Southern Lights didn't handle the undulations and was tailed off, but he'd earlier shaped better than the result behind Bolshoi Ballet and Mac Swiney in the Derrinstown and isn't one to give up on just yet.

Southern Lights: beaten out of sight but can clearly do better

What they said

Charlie Appleby, trainer of Adayar
All credit goes to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and team Godolphin. I did feel Adayar was more of a Leger horse and he convinced me to run him in the Derby. I'm delighted for Adam. He gave him a fantastic ride and he was hungry to achieve this. Adam knew this horse better than most as he broke him in. We'll let the dust settle on this but as a team we always thought the St Leger would have been his target. If we hadn't come here, we might have gone for the Vase. He should improve with experience.

Richard Hannon, trainer of Mojo Star
Mojo Star has always been the most gorgeous horse we've had at our place for a long time. He travelled like a really good horse. He didn't handle the undulations, and we've got enough money now to throw at some fancy entries.

Mac Swiney (left) may not have liked the ground according to his rider

Kevin Manning, rider of Mac Swiney
I had a good run all the way but Mac Swiney just didn't pick up in the straight. The ground may have been a bit dead for him but it was a good run.

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Bolshoi Ballet
It doesn't work everyday and that's the way life is. Bolshoi Ballet raced lifeless. I wouldn't want to make any excuses as I don't want to take away from the other horses. He wants nice ground but that's the way it is. I don't think it was stamina. He was just lifeless and whether that's the ground or not I don't know. He had the perfect position and it just wasn't for us today.

Tom Marquand, rider of Youth Spirit
Youth Spirit probably melted a bit just beforehand – we travelled beautifully throughout and probably just galloped the legs off him over a mile and a half on this ground. We'll probably come back a couple of furlongs and hopefully see him back to his best.

John Leeper: looks likely to return to ten furlongs

Frankie Dettori, rider of John Leeper
It was just too far for John Leeper at this stage of his life. We'll go back to a mile and a quarter.

Read more on the 2021 Cazoo Derby:

'It's mad, it's crazy' – Adam Kirby revels in breakthrough Classic on Adayar

The dramatic moment when Adam Kirby and brave Adayar secured Derby glory

'The most impressive winner since Golden Horn' – our experts' Derby assessments

O'Brien at a loss over Bolshoi Ballet's defeat following 'lifeless' display (Members' Club)

All-weather to all-conquering: Kirby rises to occasion to become a Derby hero (Members' Club)

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This big, strong sort shouldn't be crabbed too much and will presumably be taken to the Curragh next, where the track will suit
E.W. Terms