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Image: David Cormack
Masar upstaged a strong Epsom Derby field

Godolphin have had multiple Group 1 and classic winners around the globe but until today they’d never witnessed those distinctive blue silks cross the line in front of the field in the Derby. Trainer Charlie Appleby put that right for them as the 2,000 Guineas third Masar overturned the Newmarket classic form with Saxon Warrior.

Trainer Charlie Appleby confessed himself more nervous the day before when he saddled the Oaks favourite Wild Illusion (who finished second) than when saddling Masar in the Derby. “After yesterday I had dinner with my wife and she asked me if I was nervous and I was yesterday but not today” said Appleby in the winner’s enclosure after the race.

It was a dream come true for jockey William Buick for whom the win “means the world to me.”

Masar had run third in the Guineas but had stayed on at the end of that race, encouraging Appleby in his view which he said he’d formed after the colt’s run in the Solario Stakes as a two year old, that a longer trip would suit him. “In the Guineas…we lost nothing in defeat there,” he said, adding that “racing in Dubai [in the early spring] put some manners on him.”

In the race Masar and Saxon Warrior raced side by side for much of the way but as they approached Tattenham Corner and the taps were turned on Ryan Moore on Saxon Warrior was first to start looking anxious as he started to niggle at the hot favourite. Masar, on the other hand, was still travelling well under Buick.

As they went into the straight Moore found himself caught in a pocket as Masar went forward and Roaring Lion loomed on their outer, trapping the favourite at a key point in the race. Heading into the last two furlongs Saxon Warrior, now with daylight to run into, was struggling, appearing to find the camber difficult to cope with, while Masar forged on. Roaring Lion briefly looked a big danger to the Godolphin horse but his challenge faded as he failed to stay on up that final, gruelling hill and it was left to the Mark Johnston trained Dee Ex Bee to follow Masar home.

In the winner’s enclosure after the race there was no disguising what the win had meant to Sheik Mohammed and his team. There has been a revival in their fortunes in the past couple of years as they’ve moved on from some difficult moments and there was no better underlining of their recent revival, in which Charlie Appleby has played a key role, than the ultimate statement provided by a Derby win.

 
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