The Derby 2021: Adayar surges to victory at Epsom – as it happened

By: Tony Paley, with Greg Wo Sunday 6 June 2021

Some quick reflections after the last race on what was an intriguing Derby for many reasons. The two big stories in the lead-up to the race were Aidan O’Brien only running one colt and Frankie Dettori grabbing the ride on John Leeper when it became available after O’Brien didn’t have a horse for the Italian to ride any more. Many thought in advance that O’Brien must be thinking he had a potential superstar in Bolshio Ballet on his hands given he was only sending out one runner - the answer may be, given that the Ballydoyle trainer failed in the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas, that his three-year-old colts may not be dominant this season and that gives a chance to plenty of others.

Adayar, the convincing winner, does look very decent all of a sudden and all the big middle-distance prizes, the Irish Derby and the King George at Ascot for instance, will be there for him to go and tackle but the St Leger at Doncaster does look made for him. The big story of the race, however, was the triumphant jockey Adam Kirby. The twists and turns that took him to the winner’s podium is some tale and there’s no doubt of the rider’s popularity among his fellow jockeys, given the reaction among his weighing room colleagues after the race. This was a hugely popular success within the racing community. Finally, Richard Hannon, hardly renowned for 12-furlong horses, trained the runner-up and the career of the lightly raced Mojo Star will be worth closely following from now on. Good night and see you back here for all the thrills of Royal Ascot.

1 Ejtilaab (David Egan) 3-1 Fav
2 Muscika (S De Sousa) 25-1
3 Kimifive (Oisin Murphy) 6-1
9 ran
Also: 11-1 Aberama Gold 4th
Non Runners: 1,6,10,12,14

The disappointing Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet may not have liked the ground (as his trainer suspects) or may not have been good enough but this would not have helped ...

Aidan O’Brien @coolmorestud @Ballydoyle has just sent me this video of Bolshoi Ballet - hind leg injured after 150y in the Derby @EpsomRacecourse @itvracing.

1 Midnights Legacy (W Buick) 12-1
2 Soto Sizzler (Oisin Murphy) 3-1
3 Group One Power (S De Sousa) 11-8 Fav
10 ran
Also: 22-1 Australis 4th
Non Runners: 1,6

Andrew Goldie has been in touch ... “lovely spot, Tony, but of course Freddie was a bowler man, not a topper. I see Michael Tabor as the Artful Dodger 50 years on. And if you want me to be very, very clever on Derby Day to make an even better Freddie Davies connection (if you remember it), Teenoso was bred by Ralph ‘Budgie’ Moller ...”

Of course Freddie was a bowler man, great spot by you Andrew.

Adayar, a late gamble down to 16-1 at the off, and ridden by late replacement Adam Kirby, won the Derby at Epsom. The jockey only got the ride late in the build-up to the race after his original mount, John Leeper, was claimed by Frankie Dettori. You can read my full report on the race here.

1 Adayar (A Kirby) 16-1
2 Mojo Star (David Egan) 50-1
3 Hurricane Lane (W Buick) 6-1
11 ran
Also: 11-8 Fav Bolshoi Ballet, 8-1 Mac Swiney 4th
Non Runner: 7

And they’re off ... Gear Up goes to the front with Youth Spirit and Bolshoi Ballet is handy ... John Leeper is switched off in last place ... Adayar is just behind the leader and Bolshoi Ballet is third in the early stages ... Hurricane Lane is in fifth and Mac Swiney is in midfield ... down towards Tattenham Corner ... Adayar leads ... Mojo Star is second but a shock result as Adam Kirby wins on the late punt Adayar after being jocked off John Leeper.

Late betting news: One Ruler has been backed into 8-1 and Adayar is a springer, into 16-1 from 40-1. Bolshoi Ballet is solid at 11-8.

John Leeper is sweating up and Frankie Dettori has borrowed a towel to wipe down his horse as he gets nearer the start. The great jockey is leaving nothing to chance. It’s the same for Aidan O’Brien ...


Our correspondent is ready in his usual spot to bring you all the action and news after the world’s most famous Flat race ...

Not the standard 'Epsom awaits' pic a few minutes before the #Derby, but good to see at least a few thousand fans here for the 242nd running of the great race.

Youth Spirit a little warm between his back legs as he heads to post ... has not got any warmer than in the paddock so not boiling over as he goes down to the start ... I remember when all Group One races, including the Derby, had a proper parade in racecard order before the start ... obviously in the Covid age it’s not a priority but it should be when life is back to somewhere near normal ... John Leeper throwing his head around a little bit and he’s extremely keen to post and Frankie Dettori will need to calm him down before the start as this runner can run with the choke out in the early stages.

Hurricane Lane - the pick of the paddock ahead of the @CazooUK Derby, says @nickluck

Our spies at the track say ‘no negatives’ for the Derby runners in the paddock with Youth Spirit the only one getting a little bit edgy.

Bolshoi Ballet looks great ahead of his date with destiny - the @CazooUK Derby is upon us!

Simon Cowell just told Matt Chapman on ITV that “racing is his second passion”. With his earnings some trainers should be pricking up their ears.

You'll want the sound on for this...

Having auditioned twice for X Factor but sadly not ever meeting the judges, life is made for @MCYeeehaaa as he finally gets an audience with @SimonCowell #ITVRacing

A little over a week ago, a report suggested that Aidan O’Brien could send as many as eight colts to Epsom Downs for Saturday’s Cazoo Derby. Instead, for the first time since 2004, O’Brien will rely on a single runner – Bolshoi Ballet, the favourite - just as he did two decades ago when Galileo, Bolshoi Ballet’s sire, gave him the first of his record eight victories in the Classic.

It could be pointed out that Meath, O’Brien’s only runner 17 years ago, finished last of the 14 runners, was subsequently gelded and then sold to race in Hong Kong. The parallels between Saturday’s market leader and his sire, though, are more compelling, not least the fact that both horses were impressive winners of the Derrinstown Derby Trial in May.

He’s just on ITV and have to say that Michael Tabor, one of the Coolmore backers and owners behind the famous Aidan O’Brien yard, always looks like his top hat is too big. Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davies (one for the youngsters) has nothing on Michael.

"The Epsom Derby will always be the number one derby, it is the race to win, especially for Coolmore."@MCYeeehaaa spoke to Bolshoi Ballet's co-owner Michael Tabor

Now the Racing TV bods are saying the ground appears to have dried out to ‘good’ after studying the time taken to run the five furlongs in the Dash at Epsom . We’ll keep you posted with any more views but there will be plenty of “no excuses on account of the ground” comments between now and when the 11 runners set off in the Derby at 4.30pm

1 Mokaatil (David Egan) 25-1
2 Only Spoofing (Tom Marquand) 13-2
3 Stone Of Destiny (S De Sousa) 5-1
4 Mondammej (Cam Hardie) 6-1
16 ran
Also: 9-2 Fav Copper Knight
Non Runners: 4,5,12,14

And they’re off ... Copper Knight got out with a blast and leads ... Son And Sannie now takes the lead ... Mokaatil bursts through and kicks away to win with plenty in hand. Easy!

He’s not wrong (and you can follow all the action from Royal Ascot with us here on the live Guardian racing blog) ...

The King Edward VII at Royal Ascot is going to be some race with Bay Bridge and now Mohaafeth expected to head there.

Late 3.45pm preview update:

Sunday Sovereign is now a non-runner in the next race, the “Dash” sprint handicap down one of the fastest five-furlong courses in the world. This could prove to be quite significant, since it was as certain as these things can ever be that Tim Easterby’s gelding would set a strong pace down the stands’ side from stall 19. Copper Knight (in 16) and Only Spoofing (20) now look like the most obvious pace-setters from the high numbers, while Ornate (6), who made all the running to win from stall two in 2019, is likely to lead overall assuming he makes his customary fast start.

The favourite Sunday Sovereign is a non-runner in the ‘Dash’ (3.45pm)

BREAKING: Sunday Sovereign is a non-runner in the World Pool "Dash" Handicap ❌

Mohaafeth will head to Royal Ascot after being taken out of the Cazoo Derby due to ground conditions at Epsom. William Haggas had made no secret of the fact he thinks the Shadwell-owned colt is not at his best on rain-softened ground, and following the significant downfall at Epsom on Friday, the going was officially described as good to soft for the premier Classic.

Haggas subsequently believed it best to sidestep the race with Mohaafeth, who is unbeaten in three starts so far this term, and instead point towards the Royal meeting with the Frankel colt.

The “Dash” is the traditional curtain-raiser for the Derby and as ever, you could back half the field and still fail to find one that makes the first three. There is blazing speed across the track, with Sunday Sovereign looking a likely leader on the stands’ side from stall 19 while Ornate – a previous winner - should give them a good tow further out on the track from six.

The drying ground could make it a little more likely that the pace will hold up, but there are several interesting “closers” to pick from if you would rather sit and suffer as they look for a way through, with Mondammej and Stone Of Destiny the most obvious candidates for a last-gasp success. The hopeful pick is RECON MISSION, with the excellent Ray Dawson taking off 3lb in the saddle, as his win over track and trip in April put down a very solid marker for today’s unique test.

1 Oh This Is Us (Tom Marquand) 18-1
2 Century Dream (James Doyle) 2-1 Jt Fav
3 Bell Rock (Oisin Murphy) 2-1 Jt Fav
7 ran
Also: 11-2 Duke Of Hazzard 4th
Non Runners: 7,9

And they’re off ... Marie’s Diamond leads early ... Century Dream is up there ... Bell Rock is there ... Duke of Hazzard cannot get through ... Oh This Is Us and Century Dream went past together in a race that Frankie Dettori on Duke Of Hazzard will want to forget after being trapped on the rail when going well at the time.

Expert time watchers conforming the ground is still good to soft ... and the fact that the going hasn’t dried to good is the reason Mohaafeth has been pulled out off the Derby.

Probably a bit quicker based on the time in the second @EpsomRacecourse - perhaps 15. Still Good to Soft.

Newmarket trainer William Haggas has just revealed on ITV Racing that the fourth favourite, Mohaafeth, is out of the Derby. Haggas said he didn’t believe the horse would be suited by the softish ground. Haggas told @itvracing: “After lots of soul searching and discussion – and my god, we’ve had some – we have decided to scratch and go to [Royal] Ascot.”

Mohaafeth is out of the Derby @EpsomRacecourse@itvracing

Another race that has suffered from a couple of scratchings after Friday’s rain, with two very live contenders in Maximal and Prince Eiji now non-runners. That could leave the way open for CENTURY DREAM to land this Group Three for the third time in four years – although last year’s renewal was switched to Newbury - and while his reappearance run in the Lockinge at Newbury did not exactly scream “winning in waiting”, he looked a natural at the track on the way to his victory in 2018.

Bell Rock, the second-favourite, is making his Epsom debut but has an obvious chance on the form of his win at Newmarket in May if he handles the twists and turns, while another dependable veteran, Oh This Is Us, would have a squeak on his very best form but has yet to register a win at anything above Listed level.

1 Parent’s Prayer (Oisin Murphy) 4-1
2 Nazuna (Andrea Atzeni) 15-2
3 Statement (David Egan) 7-4 Fav
8 ran
Also: 14-1 Tomorrow’s Dream 4th
Non Runners: 4,7

And they’re off ... Nazuna and Parent’s Prayer get off to a fast start ... with Lottie Marie up there too ... Parent’s Prayer has the lead now at Tattenham Corner ... Statement is trying to catch up on the outside but Parent’s Prayer is clear and never looked like being caught. Easy!

Two non-runners have reduced the field to eight runners but this is still a competitive Group Three, in which STATEMENT will attempt to get off the mark for the season after finishing six lengths behind Mother Earth in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The concern for favourite backers is that the Classic was her first attempt at a mile and today’s trip is a little further still, but the drop in class is significant and a repeat of her run to finish a close second in the Fred Darling in April would make her tough to beat.

She is not the only runner dropping back from the highest level, however, as Nazuna was last seen finishing 10th of 14 in the Grade One Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf in November, having previously run the very useful Isabella Giles to two lengths in the Rockfel at Newmarket. Maamora, the probable pacemaker, could also have quite an easy time of it in front and needs to be considered, while Parent’s Prayer also has snippets of form last year that would give her a chance.

Epsom Downs 2.00
1 Solent Gateway (Hayley Turner) 28-1
2 King Frankel (B A Curtis) 5-2
3 Greatgadian (S De Sousa) 5-1
7 ran
Also: 15-8 Fav Patient Dream 4th
Non Runners: 4,7

And they’re off ... Zhang Fei leads and King Frankel is being pushed along early ... the ‘King’ is last and not looking happy ... Zhange leads and King Zain is second and King Frankel looks awful ... Patient Dream is hemmed in and King Xain with Greatgadian goes clear with King Frankel coming late and Solent Gateway may have got up! What a finish!

Frankie Dettori was down at the start for the first race and somebody shouted: “Where’s your horse!” The Italian doesn’t have a ride in the opener at Epsom but explained to ITV Racing why he was there ... “I like to walk the track on Derby day!” Of John Leeper, he said: “He has got low mileage but might lack a bit of experience - it’s an open Derby and I’m going to give it my best shot.”

A tricky little handicap to open the Derby card, and an uneasy former favourite in KING FRANKEL, who was top-priced at 5-2 overnight but is out to 11-4 in the face of strong support for Patient Dream (9-4 from 9-2). The new market leader has the benefit of course form, having shown improved form on his return to action to win a handicap over an extended mile here at the April meeting. He is stepping up in trip today and is 7lb higher in the weights for a one-length success, but that race has produced several subsequent winners and the drying ground is also in his favour.

King Frankel will be a stern opponent, however, having run four lengths second to Bay Bridge in the London Gold Cup at Newbury last time, a contest that has been won by a future Pattern-race winner in five of the last six seasons. Bay Bridge looked very much up to the usual standard of winner and while King Frankel is 6lb higher, his mark still looks a little on the low. At bigger prices, Freak Out is also worth a second look, as the form of his second at Newmarket last time is also working out well even if the step up in trip is not certain to suit.

Elie Lambert, who lives in Deauville in a studio apartment overlooking the racecourse, and who in his time was racing correspondent for Paris-Turf and the former Sporting Life, has an exhibition at the Osborne Gallery in London’s West End from June 14th to July 3rd. The artists who have influenced his work are interesting in their variety from the more traditional iconic Sir Alfred Munnings to David Hockney and Jack Butler Yeats. I love this painting of the William Haggas string at Newmarket, and the trainer will be hoping for a winner in the Derby with 9-1 shot Mohaafeth.

Frankie Dettori has taken over the mantle of Lester Piggott (whose mount back in the day was labelled in what would now not pass muster the ‘housewives choice’). Everyone wants to know who he’s riding, many want to back him and the pre-Derby run-up usually involves another jockey being “jocked off”, as was the case this year when he switched to today’s ride, John Leeper, after Aidan O’Brien decide to have only one runner. That’s even truer after the jockey’s amazing Oaks victory yesterday.

Ladbrokes spokesperson Nicola McGeady reports: “The horse we do not want to win is John Leeper, with Frankie fans praying he lands a Classic double.” You can still find some 10-1 but ‘the Leeper’ is down to 17-2 with SkyBet.

Some of you will be having a go at the ITV7 or backing in other races at Epsom. Here are your non-runners with Caspian Prince, who won the race in 2014, 2016 and 2017, a significant absentee in the ‘Dash’ Stakes at 3.45pm due to the going:

Epsom non-runners
2.00 4 Camelot Tales (going)
2.35 4 Posted (going), 7 Illykato (going)
3.10 9 Maximal (going), 7 Prince Eiji (going)
3.45 5 Caspian Prince (going), 12 Rose Hip (going)
5.15 1 Lost Eden (going), 6 Koeman (going)
5.50 1 Danzeno (going), 6 Justanotherbottle (temperature), Canagat (going), 12 Open Wide (going), 14 Indian Sounds (going)

Tips are always flying around for the biggest day in the Flat racing year and everyone is usually interested in the Amato pub selection at the famous Epsom wishing well.

The Grumpy Mole Pub (ex Amato) in Chalk Lane, Epsom has its traditional say on this year’s @CazooUK Derby winner @EpsomRacecourse...

Thanks to the diligent research of @HonestFrank here ... the mystery tipster must be hoping this breaks a long-losing run for the traditional ‘Amato’ Inn Derby selection

Not jealous at all ...

What a difference a day makes... ⁦

The British weather has been notoriously changeable this spring and yesterday’s atrocious conditions when Snowfall sluiced through the rain-softened ground to record a record Oaks-winning distance have given way to brilliant sunshine and we seem set fair for a blazing afternoon at Epsom. The official going is good-to-soft now but it could be good by the time of the Derby as Greg, who is there, has pointed out.

After latest walk of the course @EpsomRacecourse on @CazooUK Derby Day we will leave the going for now as Good to Soft. Currently 21 degrees and sunny (max 22?).

Greetings from the home of the Derby, where what is sure to be the second-lowest attendance in the Classic’s history – 4,000 spectators – is starting to gather for the 242nd running of the world’s most famous Flat race.

And what a splendid day it is after the unexpectedly damp experience that was Oaks day 2021, an afternoon that was immeasurably brightened by Snowfall’s 16-length romp in the fillies’ Classic but which also saw the going change from good, good-to-firm in places to good-to-soft all over after 11.8mm of rain.

Related: Frankie Dettori steers Snowfall through rain to pulverise rivals in Oaks

Related: Jim Bolger: ‘I know I still have to come up with a good horse every few years’

Related: Talking Horses: Hurricane Lane can blow rest of field away in Derby

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