Anthony Van Dyck Prevails In Galileo-Dominated Derby

5th at EPS, Gr. Stk, £1,623,900G1 Investec Derby S. (12f 6y)Winner: Anthony Van Dyck (Ire), c, 3 by Galileo (Ire)

Anthony Van Dyck and Seamie Heffernan |

When quizzed on ITV Racing before Saturday’s G1 Investec Derby which of the Ballydoyle protagonists would hold sway, Michael Tabor was at a loss and now we know why. At the end of another pulsating Epsom finish over two days blessed with them, there was just over a half length between the winner Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and fifth-placed Sir Dragonet (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), with the stable’s Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) and Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) in between. Only the runner-up and fellow Irish-trained Madhmoon (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) could get embroiled in the Rosegreen scrap and deny the Co. Tipperary outfit a remarkable whitewash completed by the sixth-placed Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Partnered by Seamie Heffernan, Anthony Van Dyck was giving Aidan O’Brien a record-equalling and post-war record-setting seventh renewal and became the first winner of the May 11 Listed Lingfield Derby Trial to go on to glory here since High-Rise (Ire) 21 years ago. Not always at ease on the terrain as he raced on the rail in mid-division, the 13-2 shot was short of room in the straight and had to be switched to the far rail for his effort as the 11-4 favourite Sir Dragonet battled with Madhmoon up ahead. Picking up with the pace that saw him win a G2 Futurity S. and G3 Tyros S. at two, the bay struck the front 150 yards out and led the four-horse blanket by a half length at the line. Madhmoon had a nose over Japan, with two short heads back to Broome and Sir Dragonet. The Galileo sire line was responsible for the first four home and the mighty stallion’s significance was not lost on the winning rider. “He was hard-pushed the whole way down the straight, but he’s a Galileo and I knew he’d be with me when I needed him,” Heffernan said.

Early indication of Anthony Van Dyck’s inherent potency came on his second start and first win at Killarney in mid-July when he had the energy to run through the rail with Donnacha O’Brien after crossing the line with eight lengths to spare over his nearest pursuer. The following week he was taken to Leopardstown for the Tyros which has so often proven such a vital staging post for the future Irish luminaries such as King of Kings (Ire), Teofilo (Ire), New Approach (Ire), Rip Van Winkle (Ire), Cape Blanco (Ire), Zoffany (Ire), Gleneagles (Ire) and Churchill (Ire). Settling that seven-furlong contest by 4 3/4 lengths, he went to The Curragh a month later to secure the G2 Futurity S. before running second to TDN Rising Star Quorto (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National S. back there in September and third in the G1 Dewhurst S. at Newmarket in October.

By the time he got to Churchill Downs, Anthony Van Dyck might have been feeling the effects of a tough campaign and could manage only ninth when favourite for the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but it is interesting that the last two Derby heroes both went to that race at the end of their 2-year-old season. Meeting with a training hitch during the spring preparation, the vibes were not the customary strong ones that can emit from this stable when reappearing at Lingfield last month. Much as the Oaks Trial had been before the success of Anapurna (GB) (Frankel {GB}) here on Friday, the Derby Trial which used to carry group 3 status has come to be seen as a lesser prep for the blue riband. Winning comfortably despite the lack of market support, he travelled more smoothly on the soft surface he encountered in that contest than he did on his sun-baked ground.

Shuffled back to seventh after being more prominent from the break, the colt who sported Susan Magnier’s pink silks was soon being chivvied along by Heffernan to keep his spot while others were too keen off the pace set by Sovereign (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Sir Dragonet and Ryan Moore had a trouble-free passage throughout and appeared to travel with elan and as the action unfolded in early straight Telecaster (GB) (New Approach {Ire}) was the first to feel the pinch and backtrack.

While Sir Dragonet, Broome and Japan all had clear passage down the centre of the track, Anthony Van Dyck was caught up behind a wall as he began to give Heffernan the right signals. Looking at every stage like a colt unhappy on this unique track, he was nevertheless coming on all the time in willing fashion and when the gap was made next to the tiring Circus Maximus approaching the furlong pole the chase was on. Drawing on his Australasian sprinting blood to cut back a length-and-a-half margin to Sir Dragonet and Madhmoon in the space of just over half a furlong, he was ultimately a decisive winner of one of the tightest Derbys in some time.

“I’m in the last ten years of my riding career, so it means a lot,” commented the 46-year-old Heffernan, who had won the 2012 Oaks on Was (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and was having his 12th ride in this Classic in which he had ridden the runner-up in 2009 and in 2010. “I rode his father in a trial and I’ve ridden plenty of Derby horses and ridden in plenty of Derbys, so I’m always confident riding for Aidan. He trains them for the big day. I haven’t had to take a pull going down to the two for a long time, so I knew I was going to get plenty of money. Having to take a hold of him two down probably helped and he’d been running up the back-ends of horses over seven furlongs as a two-year-old.”

At the end of another landmark Derby, it is hard to know which aspect of the outcome to champion the most. All of them are equally notable, from Aidan O’Brien putting himself on a par with the 18th century, 19th century and pre-WWII legends Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling, from Sadler’s Wells dominating the whole line-up with a far-reaching influence of great historical magnitude, and from his best sire son Galileo exercising such an iron grip on the finish of the race that marked the first for his sire and his stable back in 2001. It was also the first time in history that an all Irish-trained first six was in evidence.

Typically, Aidan was ushering the praise elsewhere. “I am privileged to be part of the team with everybody–the lads put so much in day in, day out,” he said. “There are so many people from the ground right up to the riders, the people in the office, the farriers, the vets, the people that do the stables day in and day out, that do the farms. Patrick rides this horse out all the time and does a great job, Andrew is in charge of him, Sumi, who leads him up, and John–they are incredible people. I am so privileged and delighted and grateful to them. It is incredible to be in the position to be a record holder, we never thought we’d be in this position. We have to pinch ourselves everyday, we are working with the best people, with the most incredible horses with the unbelievable pedigrees and physiques, in an incredible facility.”

Anthony Van Dyck was not winning out of turn, having contested the Dewhurst as past Derby winners New Approach (Ire), Sir Percy (GB), Dr Devious (Ire) and Generous (Ire) had in recent times. Ironically, it is fact this year that Doncaster’s Futurity which was traditionally the reserve of next year’s Derby horses was actually won by the Guineas hero Magna Grecia (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and the Dewhurst which always points the way to that mile Classic threw up the Epsom hero. “They were all there having a chance and we were just hoping,” his trainer added. “Anthony Van Dyck is a very solid horse who danced every dance last year and did everything we asked of him. We always felt that a step up to middle-distances was going to see the best of him and he’s out of a good fast Australian mare so he’s a horse to look forward to. Ryan was very happy with him at Lingfield, as he knew he was just ready to start after a little setback five or six weeks before. He was very close to picking him, but when Sir Dragonet was declared he couldn’t not ride him. I would imagine the [June 29 G1] Irish Derby would be next. The new facilities and the stand at The Curragh–everyone has to come see it to believe it and we are glad to have the horse to run in it.”

O’Brien was quick to pay tribute to his long-term soldier Heffernan. “Seamus gave him a great ride–he’s been placed so many times and has been working for us for so long and is such a special fellow,” he said. “He has always been a world-class rider and we are so privileged to work with him. He knows how tough it is to get on the right horse and then to try and win it, so I’m delighted that it was him today. He’s a privilege to work with.”

Epsom’s Derby still remains the cornerstone of the Coolmore-Ballydoyle ideology, much as it was in the days of the late Dr Vincent O’Brien who passed away on this day 10 years ago. “John [Magnier] always says that the Derby is the Holy Grail and the backbone of the thoroughbred,” he added. “This is the ultimate test. They are all bred and reared to be here at Epsom and they have to stay, to have agility and be able to adapt. Their mind has to be very strong. It’s such a tough race to win and all the way down the straight, we had a big team of horses challenging to win and we did, but we didn’t have the second. If the winner hadn’t run, we wouldn’t have won and that’s how competitive it is.”

Of Galileo, he continued, “Over the last twenty years, his influence has been incredible in the fillies as well as the colts. It’s not something you can see, it’s an inward mental thing. They do not know when to give up. He ticks all the boxes–they take their training and never go back from it. They never wilt or disappear and just stand up and say give me more. It’s ingrained into them and all the mares put it into their foals whichever stallion they go to.”

Shadwell’s Madhmoon will be remembered as the one that stopped a total Ballydoyle domination of the 2019 Derby and trainer Kevin Prendergast, who is 87 next month, was encouraged by the effort. “We’d loved to have won, but we’re very proud of the horse,” he said. “He ran great and it was a very good ride from Chris Hayes. He did nothing wrong and the best horse won on the day.” Angus Gold, racing manager to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, added, “He stumbled at the bottom of the hill and he had to go a bit earlier than he wanted to. Whether we have to stick to a mile and a half or whether we come back to a mile and a quarter, let’s see. There are things like the Irish Champion and the Irish Derby would come into it now. I was convinced he wouldn’t stay, so I’m delighted to be proved wrong.”

Wayne Lordan dropped his whip on the third-placed Japan, who like the winner also suffered a setback in the spring. “He was a little bit babyish on the track, but he got it together and came home well. I am delighted with him,” he said. Ryan Moore said of Sir Dragonet, “He ran a very good race for a horse of his experience. Hopefully he will come on for that.” Telecaster was the race’s disappointment and his eclipse meant that the British suffered a drubbing at the hands of the Irish. Trainer Hughie Morrison said, “He ran flat. He has had three quick races in the spring and it has just caught up with him.”

Anthony Van Dyck is the fourth Epsom Derby hero for Galileo and another example of how well he mixes with fast mares. His dam, the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude winner Believe’N’Succeed (Aus) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), also produced the New Zealand champion sprinter Bounding (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}) whose career record was highlighted by victory in the G1 Railway S. The second dam Arctic Drift (Gone West) raced for Godolphin before producing Kuroshio from a mating with Exceed and Excel and he has a stallion career after winning the G2 Ian McEwen Trophy and the Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and geldings. The third dam November Snow (Storm Cat) was successful in the GI Alabama S. and GI Test S. and the full-sister to the graded-stakes winning sire Scatmandu boasts the GI Carter H. hero Morning Line (Tiznow) among her descendants. Believe’N’Succeed’s 2019 filly is also by Galileo.

Saturday, Epsom, Britain
INVESTEC DERBY S.-G1, £1,623,900, Epsom, 6-1, 3yo, 12f 6yT, 2:33.38, g/f.
1–ANTHONY VAN DYCK (IRE), 126, c, 3, by Galileo (Ire)
1st Dam: Believe’N’Succeed (Aus) (GSW-Aus, $157,067), by Exceed and Excel (Aus)
2nd Dam: Arctic Drift, by Gone West
3rd Dam: November Snow, by Storm Cat
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith; B-Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt (IRE); T-Aidan O’Brien; J-Seamus Heffernan. £921,538. Lifetime Record: MGSW & G1SP-Ire, 9-5-1-1, $1,497,861. *1/2 to Bounding (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}), Ch. Sprinter-NZ, G1SW-NZ & GSW-Aus, $578,367. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Madhmoon (Ire), 126, c, 3, Dawn Approach (Ire)–Aaraas (GB), by Haafhd (GB). O-Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum; B-Shadwell Estate Company Ltd (IRE); T-Kevin Prendergast. £349,375.
3–Japan (GB), 126, c, 3, Galileo (Ire)–Shastye (Ire), by Danehill. (1,300,000gns Ylg ’17 TATOCT). O-Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier & Michael Tabor; B-Newsells Park Stud (GB); T-Aidan O’Brien. £174,850.
Margins: HF, NO, NO. Odds: 6.50, 10.00, 20.00.
Also Ran: Broome (Ire), Sir Dragonet (Ire), Circus Maximus (Ire), Humanitarian, Norway (Ire), Line of Duty (Ire), Sovereign (Ire), Hiroshima (GB), Bangkok (Ire), Telecaster (GB). Click for the Racing Post result or the free catalogue-style pedigree. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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