Just as many people thought, Aidan O’Brien dominated the Epsom Derby on Saturday. Although it perhaps wasn’t with the winning horse that many people had at the top of their list. O’Brien ran seven horses in the 13 runner race, giving him over half field. Remarkably he had five of the first six home in the race. That included four out of the five horses that were separated by less than a length in what was a thrilling finish.

Anthony Van Dyck was the winner despite being the third choice out of O’Brien’s seven runners, according to the official SP’s. Behind him, in 5th place was race favourite Sir Dragonet. However, there was no doubting that he was a deserving winner of the race, even though the margins were very small.

He didn’t get a clear passage up the home straight and had to eventually dive towards the inside rail to get going, picking up those who were battling it out towards the centre of the course.

He crossed just in front, with tiny margins separating the four horses that came in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th behind him. Despite finishing in 5th place, Sir Dragonet was just three-quarters of a length behind the winner, showing just how tight it was.

You can probably mark up the performance of Anthony Van Dyck based on his passage through the race. Usually, when we see a big close finish like that it points to the form being a little suspect. But with a clear run, there is no doubt that he would have gone on to win by a much bigger margin.

If you’re looking for another to mark up from the race then that is probably Sir Dragonet. He went into the race with the widest draw of them all. And that certainly hampered his ability to get into a good position early in the race. He then had to challenge down the outside which is not easy to do, especially for a horse that is so inexperienced like he is.

With a better draw, we would have seen him settled early in a better position and then able to challenge nearer to the rail instead of coming around runners.

If he goes to the Irish Derby next month, which seems likely, he will probably be sent off as the favourite again. And he would be strongly fancied to overturn the form of this race by many, despite officially coming 5th at Epsom.

As for the others in the Epsom Derby, both Japan who finished 3rd and Broome who finished 4th look like they could handle another furlong or two. As a result, that makes them possibilities for the final classic of the season, the St Leger. It is run over 1m6f at Doncaster, and although they didn’t taste success in the Derby, they both ran very good trials for the Leger.

So Aidan O’Briens’s dominance continues. Can his son, trainer Joseph O’Brien emulate his success? He saddled his first Grand National runner earlier this year and the signs are good that it certainly won’t be his last!



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