It had been a bit of a case of musical chairs pre-race within the jockey ranks, but when the dust had settled jockey Adam Kirby had ridden the 2021 Derby winner at Epsom, saluting aboard the $16 chance Adayar for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby.
Just two days prior to race-day, Kirby had been dumped off John Leeper, a runner then considered to be a leading contender for the big race honours, in favour of Frankie Dettori.
Kirby, in turn, then replaced Oison Murphy on Adayar … and the rest, as they say is history, with Adayar stamping his authority on the race to win by an emphatic four-and-a-half length margin from the $50 outsider Mojo Star.
Kirby’s philosophy at the time of losing the ride on John Leeper was simply to shrug it off and to move forward with, in his words, a “don’t be bitter, be better” attitude and, as he said afterwards, “it’s worked out great.”
“There are ups and downs, there are swings and roundabouts, but I can’t thank Charlie Appleby enough. He is a true gentleman and a great trainer,” said Kirby, as quoted in the Evening Standard.
“I’ve always said I’d rather win a Derby than be champion jockey. I think it’s the greatest race,” said Kirby, ticking that one off the bucket-list.
Adayar, a son of the mighty Frankel, gave Charlie Appleby his second success in the race with the top trainer having won previously with Masar in 2018.
Appleby took time out to praise Murphy, who had originally been asked to ride Adayar, for the way he accepted the situation when Kirby became available after losing the John Leeper ride.
“Adam is a huge part of the team. He’s been with us since I started. Once Adam was available, I was always going to offer the ride to him, and Oisin said ‘I know what you’re going to say and I understand’, so a big thanks to him for being a true sportsman,” said Appleby.
The 11-8 favourite Bolshoi Ballet finished seventh while John Leeper finished ninth of the eleven runners.