'These horses don't come around often' - Derby hero Adayar emulates Galileo
They always maintained Adayar was a good Derby winner. They can now be sure he was a great one after he became the first horse since Galileo two decades earlier to win the Epsom Classic and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes in the same season.
History was stacked against them but Charlie Appleby stuck to the once popular route. Sadly, he was not there to see the plan come to fruition, though, as he was pinged by the NHS Covid app earlier this week.
Still, the trainer would not have minded too much watching from home as Adayar began to stake his claim up the straight and he would have minded even less when he finished clear of Mishriff.
It was not the grandstand finish served up by Enable and Crystal Ocean but it was arguably more significant as Adayar became only the 14th Derby winner to follow up in this battle of the generations.
"It's been 20 years since the great Galileo did the double and Adayar deserves all the plaudits," Appleby said. "He was a good Derby winner and we were confident today. When the bell rang turning for home he just put himself in the firing line and galloped powerfully to the line."
He may have just galloped himself to the top of his division, too. The trainer said whoever won the race would become king of the mile-and-a-half horses and after watching his winner make light work of a high-quality field, Appleby believes he is a worthy holder of the title.
"He deserves to hold that crown and I'm confident it's a position he can maintain for the foreseeable future," said Appleby. "He had the weight-for-age allowance but that's there for a reason. We were confident he would not look like the three-year-old in the field.
"He's a very good-moving horse so the ground wasn't too much of a concern – I wasn't going to use it as an excuse if we were beaten."
On his absence from the track, the trainer added: "Thankfully I saw the horse on Wednesday, which was the last time I was able to go to the yard. You'd love to be there for those historical moments but my job was done before today and I have a fantastic team around me."
The significance of their victory was not lost on winning rider William Buick, who punched the air not once but three times after winning his second King George, having previously struck with Nathaniel a decade ago.
"I might have gone a bit over the top with the celebration but I really enjoyed it," said Buick. "Ten years is a long time so it feels like I've won it for the first time. I'm of an age when I maybe enjoy it more.
"Horses like him don't come around too often and it's not often the Derby winner follows up in the King George so it feels amazing. He jumped better than I expected and was in a lovely rhythm. He then had that kick in the straight and stayed on all the way to the line.
"We all saw him at Epsom and we all thought he was a good Derby winner – he's just confirmed that by taking on the older horses. He's a consummate professional who possesses a fantastic will to win. It was a brilliant field, which is what the King George is all about."
Despite finishing ahead of his stablemate Hurricane Lane at Epsom, Adayar was viewed by some as falling behind the Irish Derby winner in the Godolphin pecking order but Appleby was always confident of a bold show and will map out an ambitious campaign for the winner.
"It's one of my usual cliches but we'll have the conversation," said Appleby. "If you pressed me for an answer now, I'd say he'll go for the Arc, possibly with a prep run in the Prix Niel in September, while Hurricane Lane will head towards the St Leger and possibly the Arc."
Adayar was cut to 5-1 (from 10) by Paddy Power for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The last King George winner to follow up at Longchamp was Enable in 2017.
Runner-up Mishriff will be aimed at the Juddmonte International at York next month after failing in his bid for a breakthrough domestic Group 1.
The four-year-old, who won the Saudi Cup and Sheema Classic this season, finished a length and three-quarters behind the winner and the same distance in front of Love, who was attempting to record a fifth top-level success in a row for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore.
John Gosden, who trains Mishriff in partnership with his son Thady, said: "I've always said after winning this race with Nathaniel, Enable and Taghrooda as three-year-olds that they're helped by getting a lot of weight from the older horses. The winner looks incredibly good but he's run an absolute blinder and will head to York next."
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