It had been 20 years since the very recently deceased super-stallion Galileo completed the Derby/King George double so it was fitting, with the memory of his passing still fresh, that his grandson Adayar became the first horse since then to achieve the same feat.
Adayar’s Derby was run on good to soft ground on Epsom’s helter-skelter but conditions at Ascot today were very different. The overnight rain that had been expected failed to materialise, resulting in the withdrawal of the improving filly Wonderful Tonight, and the resultant good to firm ground on this flatter track provided a new test for the Charlie Appleby trained colt.
Appleby himself was unable to attend the racecourse, having been alerted via the UK’s coronavirus track and trace app that he was required to isolate.
Adayar’s chief rival, according to the bookmakers at least, was last season’s star filly Love, who’d been trained by Aidan O’Brien to win the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks in an undefeated three year old campaign. She’d started off 2021 in similar Group one winning fashion, taking on the colts for the first time in the Prince Of Wales’s stakes at Royal Ascot, duly winning while looking like she’d come on from the race.
Love was preferred in the betting, starting 13/8 favourite with Adayar second best at 9/4. Despite market confidence she faced a daunting task on the face of it, trying to give the Derby winner 8lbs, the weight allowance he was entitled to on the weight for age conditions of the race.
In the race itself Adayar was smartly out of the stalls, disputing the early lead with Lone Eagle. Love’s pacemaker Broome, a classy horse in his own right, was pushed up to make the pace but just in behind William Buick on Adayar was holding onto his mount hard as the colt ran a bit freely.
Once Broome tacked across in front of Adayar it helped Buick to settle his mount and the order remained unchanged until they turned in for home at which point Buick set after Broome and quickly reeled him in.
In the last two furlongs Mishriff emerged as the main challenger to Adayar but he never quite got on terms with the Godolphin colt and, with Love in third having never really struck any sort of a telling blow, Adayar powered on and eventually hit the line a length and three quarters to the good.
Appleby was quick to point out afterwards that the ground was not a big concern for the horse, “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.”
Winning jockey Buick was understandably delighted, punching the air repeatedly after he passed the winning post. “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.”
Regarding the colt’s future targets Appleby pointed out that nothing had been decided yet. “If you pressed me for an answer now, I’d say he’d go for the Arc, possibly with a prep run in the Prix Neil in September, while Hurricane Lane will head towards the St leger and possibly the Arc.”
Adayar is by Frankel out of a Dubawi mare, Anna Salai. He is the first of the mare’s progeny to excel on the racecourse, her previous two, a colt and a filly, both failed to win. That Frankel/Dubawi link is one that plenty will be looking to exploit now that Galileo is no longer available to the top breeders.