Epsom chief Cooper hails Adayar's King George success as 'great for the Derby'
Epsom director of racing Andrew Cooper has added his voice to many others in hailing Adayar's win in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday, which bridged a 20-year gap to the mighty Galileo in adding Ascot glory to his Derby victory.
Cooper has seen most things in his long tenure in charge of the historic Downs, but he admitted to being quite emotional as he watched Adayar surge clear of Mishriff and Love under a jubilant William Buick.
"I watched the race with my three sons and afterwards they said they had never seen me quite so animated watching a horserace," said Cooper, who has presided over every Derby and Oaks since 1996.
"You do try and be as impartial as you can in this game, but I must admit to giving Adayar quite a significant roar in the home straight at Ascot. It was a brilliant performance."
Adayar was only the third Derby winner since Galileo in 2001 to attempt the double, with plenty of trainers and owners plotting a different route away from Epsom in the wake of their Classic success.
Cooper is no different from any other interested observer in wondering just how good a particular crop might be but, with Adayar's third-placed stablemate Hurricane Lane also prospering at the Curragh and Longchamp since the Derby, the form is there for all to see.
"Every year you go away from Epsom on Derby day hoping that the winner will prove to be a good horse," said Cooper. "Equally you accept that some years are better than others and it depends on the crop.
"There's never any such thing as a bad Derby winner, but some are obviously better than others and this fella looks very good."
Cooper is in a good place to judge the way this Classic generation measures up to the established older middle-distance stars given he also tends the turf at Sandown, where dual French Classic hero St Mark's Basilica dominated his rivals in the Coral-Eclipse.
Cooper said: "Since St Mark's Basilica won my 'other' race, the Coral-Eclipse, I've been pondering just how good this crop might be in relation to the older horses.
"There was a time I wasn't sure how this bunch of three-year-olds would compete against the top older horses. Snowfall hasn't done that yet, but with St Mark's Basilica and now Adayar, it looks strong.
"They are competing against their own age group around the unique course that is Epsom and however impressive the Derby winner is, you still want and need them to go on and prove it again at the highest possible level."
Cooper also pushed back on some of the prevailing commentary that the Derby was in any way in need of a standard-bearer such as Adayar.
"I think it is great for the Derby, although I feel there is a little bit of a tendency in some quarters to be rather more negative over recent winners and runnings of the race than needs to be the case," said Cooper.
"You're not going back very far to winners like Golden Horn and Australia. As with several recent Derby winners like Wings Of Eagles and Pour Moi, Masar wasn't able to go on and prove the validity of his Epsom run through injury and therefore no fault of his own. But on ratings that 2018 race – with Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in behind – was the best three-year-old event run in the world and about fourth best overall.
"It is good for the Derby, but I do think that we shouldn't be overly critical of its current state and status. You have to look at the overall depth of the race in a wider context."
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