In what seemed like a golden age for flat racing in the early 2000s, Godolphin faced off against Coolmore on a regular basis and when Love and Adayar faced off on Saturday in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes, the two heavyweights will cross paths. iron again.
Although it is far from a two-horse race – indeed, five of the six riders are already Group 1 winners and the only one to still close that gap, Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, was a narrow runner-up in the Irish Derby – they nevertheless dominate betting.
To add to the feeling of nostalgia, 20 years ago superfather Galileo was the last Derby winner to win the race, a feat Adayar is trying to emulate this weekend.
Adayar is from Frankel, Galileo’s tallest son, yet Galileo has beaten Fantastic Light, one of Godolphin’s all-time greats, but it will be Adayar wearing the famous blue silks this time around.
“We always thought, from 24 hours after the Derby, that we would go to the King George because he is a great individual who needs a gap between his races and that would give him time to develop”, said trainer Charlie Appleby, who has an embarrassment of wealth among his three-year-old children.
“This season has been fantastic. At the start of winter we felt like we had a good two-year-old group, without having had a Group 1 winner, but they had great pedigrees and were good individuals.
“We were hoping that at three years old they would progress and they made a proper commitment. They have been in great shape all season, starting with Creative Force who progressed through handicaps to win the jersey and run well in the Cup. July.
“Then we had Hurricane Lane, Adayar and Yibir all campaigning in the trials. Some won, some really well but luckily they have improved since their trials, which is important.”
Most yards would love to have a runner in the Derby, but unless you’re Aidan O’Brien with a yard full of Galileo’s offspring, having one is always a feat. This year Appleby had three.
“The only race everyone wants to win is the Derby, so that was the goal for the spring. We haven’t had a rider in the Derby since Masar (2018 winner). Fortunately, over the years, j “Got a handle on what you need to compete at the highest level. I never want to just do numbers,” he said.
“This year we felt we had the stamp of the horse to be competitive, certainly going into the trials and His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) said during the winter to build towards the Derby and if we thought we had three, run three.
“We started the spring with five potential Derby contenders and ended up with three and they all ran very honorably finishing first, third (Hurricane Lane) and One Ruler sixth.
“We had the conversation with Sheikh Mohammed before the Derby about handling the three and I won’t run away, I felt that the only horse that would be suitable for a trip was going to be Adayar and that he was more of a St. Light Horse His Highness has said that if he is fit and healthy to run, the only thing you need to do is stay in the Derby.
“Hurricane Lane had won the Dante, he was an undefeated son of Frankel, he was our number one and luckily he justified where we thought he was in the pecking order – at the top. a question mark that increased on the trip but we had done it with Masar and it didn’t look out of place in the Derby.
“But, a few of the old sages liked Adayar. He had run in two tries and hadn’t done much wrong, he hadn’t been beaten from afar either and with the way the ground turned. , it had to be a possible.
“He’s a gentle giant, you wouldn’t want him throwing his full weight because he’s a big boy, Josh (Crane) his rider since spring has done a fantastic job. His work from home isn’t different from what he was before at Epsom, he is a kind and honest runner who covers a lot of ground. “
It’s rare for a Derby winner to show up in the King George these days, although both Enable and Taghrooda have taken advantage of the huge age and gender allowances as Oaks winners for John Gosden in recent years, but Appleby always pointed to the centerpiece of midsummer.
“It’s going to be a fascinating race, we chatted with His Highness where we place Hurricane Lane after his victory in the Paris Grand Prix and although it’s a cliché we are sitting on the fence waiting to see this that Adayar is doing to see where these classic horses are going in the second half of the season, ”said Appleby.
“I’m delighted with his pre-race preparation. There are six riders, it looks like there is pace and if you want to dig deep into form Love is a deserved favorite. We are the second favorite and with l ‘allocation, I think the market is about right. Love should be the frontrunner, but we should be there.
“Whoever wins it is king of the mile and a half division for the foreseeable future.
“Year after year we are always told that it was not a classic Derby or that three year olds look weak, but it always settles from the Eclipse.
“When Masar won they questioned his strength, then Roaring Lion came out and won the Eclipse and the Juddmonte – I don’t know what horses have to do sometimes.
“As it stands, it looks like a good Derby. He won three and a half lengths and the third horse came out and won a Classic and the Paris Grand Prix with insistence.
“It’s fantastic to be a part of these races, helping produce the goods on the same day is a great honor and this is my first runner in the King George. Most importantly he’s not just a runner, it ‘is a Derby winner. To win it, that would be a nice feather to have in your cap. “
The field is completed by Mishriff of John and Thady Gosden, Broome, the stable mate of Love and Wonderful Tonight of David Menuisier.