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Impressive Derby victory for Masar


Masar provided Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and William Buick with a landmark first Royal Blue success in the G1 Derby as he stormed home to capture Britain’s premier Classic at Epsom Downs, UK, on Saturday, 2 June.

The three-year-old colt emulated his sire New Approach, who took the Blue Riband of the turf in 2008, with a decisive victory over the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Dee Ex Bee, trained by Mark Johnston, in a thrilling renewal of the 12-furlong showpiece.

Masar, stepping up in trip after coming home third in the first British Classic of the season, the G1 2000 Guineas over a straight mile at Newmarket on 5 May, broke smartly and raced towards the head of the 12 runners initially before being taken back to seventh after the first quarter-mile.

He held the same position as the field swept round Tattenham Corner and was switched out by William Buick approaching the final three furlongs.

Masar travelled powerfully into a challenging position, taking up the running from Hazapour with just over a furlong and a half to race before quickening clear, comfortably seeing off the challenges of Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion win in 2m 34.93s on ground described as good, good to soft in places.

Dee Ex Bee stayed on gamely to take second, a length and a half behind Masar, with a further half-length back to Roaring Lion. Godolphin had come close in the past to winning Britain’s richest race in the Royal Blue colours, finishing second on three occasions with City Honours in 1998, Rule of Law in 2004 and Jack Hobbs in 2015.

Today’s victory gave Godolphin’s founder and driving force, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, another famous G1 success.

“This is what it is all about – winning big races across the world,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“It is something special to win the Derby. I am very happy that Masar has won today and very proud that the horse has come from Dubai.

“My daughter is here and she brought all the luck. “I was confident during the race as I thought William (Buick) was going very well but before the race, I don’t know.

“We knew that the favourite was a very good horse, but we liked our horse too. I wasn’t nervous in the last part of the race – I was excited and jumping around! “Horses are my blood so this is a very special day for me. I love horses and I love racing.”

Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikh Mohammed’s wife, added: “I am so happy for Sheikh Mohammed, who so deserved it. Everyone in the team has worked so hard for this.”

Charlie Appleby was wreathed in smiles as he became the first trainer to provide Godolphin with an Investec Derby victory in the Royal Blue colours – his ambition since coming a Godolphin trainer

He commented: “It is fantastic – the win still hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t do for days, probably weeks.

“It has been a season where we have been knocking on the door and I have always been hoping that the door would just open. I thought it was going to happen with Wild Illusion in the Investec Oaks - it was a long journey home yesterday.

“The team I have behind me and more important His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, supporting me all the way, who said to me ‘don’t worry Charlie about that, just keep going and it will come’.

“We were beaten on the day with Wild Illusion (second) – I am realist – I have been in this sport all my life. We were beaten yesterday by a better filly. You have to take that on the chin – take the positives out of the race and move forward.

“Coming into today, I knew I had a horse who I felt put up a great performance in the 2000 Guineas and I always felt that was going to be the best trial.

“Brett Doyle rides Masar in his work and the team at home have done a fantastic job looking after the horse. Brett was confident he was going to run well.

“All I could think of in the last furlong was that I wanted to be the first trainer to win the Derby in the Godolphin Blue.

“We just wanted to get Masar to switch off and we thought he’d stay. William has given him a brilliant ride, but the last 100 yards seemed a long time! It’s such a special day with the Royal family being here.

“I came here today very relaxed and just wanted the horse to do his best. I’m very lucky to have been given this position and all I wanted to do when I got it was to win the Derby for the team. Each year, I’ve watched it go by without having a winner, but you’ve got to keep trying.”

William Buick was thrilled by the Derby success. He reported: “I am not going to explain myself very well, but this victory on Masar is huge, it’s massive.

“I have had a few rides in the race and come close a couple of times. I think this is my eighth Derby ride and I know some people have ridden more Derbys without winning, but there were a couple of times when I was thinking “is my time ever going to come?

“To do it for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and his family in the famous Royal Blue colours is brilliant – they are very loyal supporters of me and I am just very, very happy to be part of it.

“Masar stayed the trip and travelled beautifully today. The Guineas didn’t happen for him, but he is a very good horse and the team believed in him. I am just very pleased.

“I have dreamed of this since I wanted to be a jockey. This is everything.

“I knew before the race that he would be a straightforward ride in the Derby. Charlie was very confident that this horse would stay and convinced me he would stay.

“It is something really special. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, the Holy Grail, the be-all and end-all of everything.”