In a thrilling finish, Anthony Van Dyck came from behind to win the Epsom Derby. The Irish thoroughbred beat a number of horses, all of which entered the final furlong with a fighting chance to win Britain’s richest race. Madhmoon finished second, while Japan, Anthony Van Dyck’s stablemate, rounded out the top three.
The victory drew trainer Aidan O’Brien level with Robert Robson, John Porter, and Fred Darling for most Derby wins with 7. O’Brien, in fact, trained 7 of the 13 runners in the race. “It’s incredible . . .” said the renowned Irish trainer. “These races are so competitive and so tough. I’m so privileged, delightful and grateful to the team.”
Also part of O’Brien’s team was jockey Seamie Hefferman, who posted his first Derby win in 12 tries. “I knew he would be with me when I needed him,” said Hefferman, who was effusive in his praise for Anthony Van Dyck.
Keeping with the odds
Anthony Van Dyck wasn’t the favorite to win the Epsom Derby. An AP report on the race showed his chances of winning were slated at 13-2, only ahead of other contenders such Madhmoon (10-1), but well behind Broome (4-1), and Sir Dragonet (3-1). As bwin Horse Racing News noted in its preview of the Epsom Derby, the Irish thoroughbred is a “smart juvenile,” one that that falls “just below the very best having come up short behind Quorto and Too Darn Hot.” However, Anthony Van Dyck didn’t come up short in the Epsom Derby, instead, he delivered a pulsating win, overcoming stiff competition from Madhmoon, Japan, and Sir Dragonet in a mad scramble to the finish line.
The big winners
Anthony Van Dyck
Anthony Van Dyck was sired by renowned Irish thoroughbred Galileo, himself a winner of the Epsom Derby in 2001. Anthony Van Dyck began his racing career last year, finishing seventh in a seven-furlong race at The Currragh. He won for the first time at the Killarney Racecourse, beating his rivals by eight lengths. He then went on to win the Tyros Stakes and Futurity Stakes last year, before adding the Derby Trial Stakes and Epsom Derby this year.
O’Brien, now tied with three others as the most successful trainers in Epsom Derby history, is just a Derby win away from owning the record. It is a remarkable achievement given how competitive horseracing is today. The 49-year-old Irishman native, who now trains horses exclusively for Ballydoyle, has been a respected trainer for over two decades, and his career includes six Irish National Hunt trainer awards. He has trained a handful of winners, the most prominent being Galileo, Istabraq, Desert King, and now, Anthony Van Dyck.
The winning jockey began his career in Ireland, where he established himself as one of the country’s best jockeys. He has wins in the Critérium International (riding Mount Nelson) in France, the Breeder’s Cup Turf (Highland Reel) in the US, and Epsom Oaks (Was) in the UK. Even so, Hefferman had always been Ballydoyle’s number 2 rider, whose previous best finish in the Derby was coming in second in both 2009 and 2010, riding Fame And Glory and At First Sight. That all changed this year, with the veteran leading Anthony Van Dyck’s winning push for the line.
A prestigious race
Anthony Van Dyck’s stirring victory came at the Epsom Derby’s 240th staging, whose prize fund, according to CNN, was $1.9 million. The mile-and-a-half race is one of the world’s most prestigious and is considered a test of both speed and stamina. No wonder Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, was left beaming watching Anthony Van Dyck’s dramatic comeback win in what was arguably one of the best races in recent history.