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|Workforce Epsom Derby romp gives Ryan Moore second Classic in two
|Greg Wood at Epsom
| Durham police are
investigating a £100,000 armed robbery at the home of a leading racehorse
trainer last night when a balaclava-clad gunman and a man brandishing a knife
forced their way into his home.
Even Ryan Moore managed a smile. A day after his first Classic
success on Friday, along came his second, and Workforce's class and authority
in the Derby were such that the most taciturn champion jockey since Lester
Piggott could not help himself. If Workforce is as good as he looked, Moore
might even find that it becomes a habit.
Victory was never in doubt
from the moment Moore and Workforce mastered At First Sight with a quarter of a
mile to run. At First Sight, a 100-1 chance, was supposedly running as a
pacemaker for Jan Vermeer and Midas Touch, the other two-thirds of Aidan
O'Brien's team, but he briefly seemed to have slipped his field at the top of
the stretch, and only Workforce was able to close the gap. "I was worried he
might have gone too soon," Sir Michael Stoute, Workforce's trainer, said, but
with a smile that suggested it had never crossed his mind.
Moore is the first jockey since Kieren Fallon in
2004 to complete the Oaks-Derby double, and now stands on the brink of a
remarkable treble on board third favourite Ice Blue in today's French Derby at
Workforce had powered seven lengths clear of At First Sight
by the line, the biggest winning margin in the race since Shergar's
record-breaking 10 lengths in 1981. He also covered the trip faster than any of
the other 230 Derby winners, taking 0.98 seconds off Lammtarra's previous
record, set in 1995.
Another stat that will need to be discarded is the
one that says no horse beaten in the Dante Stakes at York has ever won the
Derby. Workforce was well beaten behind Cape Blanco in that race last time out,
but clearly that had more to do with inexperience and circumstance the
bit slipped badly, causing him to hang than it did with lack of ability.
Moore's post-race interviews are normally reluctant, mumbled affairs
that are over before they have begun. Yesterday's success, though, was clearly
one that Moore had ached to achieve, despite his "just another race" attitude
in the buildup.
"It's the most important race and a special day," he
said. "It's been really nice to get a great reception from my family, friends
and weighing-room colleagues.
"He travelled very smoothly and the gap
opened up beautifully. He showed great acceleration and I was actually in front
sooner than I wanted to be. It's a long way up that straight. For a big horse
on fast ground on a track that doesn't suit him, it was a good performance and
I just hope that there is more to come."
Rewilding was the colt who
attracted all the money thanks to the presence of Frankie Dettori in his
saddle, while Workforce drifted slightly, out to 6-1. Jan Vermeer, the
favourite, set off at 9-4.
Rewilding was half a length behind At First
Sight, while Jan Vermeer was another four lengths adrift in fourth. Jan Vermeer
was reported to have lost two shoes during the race, so his final finishing
position of fourth may have been creditable, but even with an extra pair of
legs he would not have got within hailing distance of Workforce.
Touch was fifth for O'Brien who has not found a colt to win the race since High
Chaparral in 2002, and has now saddled 35 losers in the search for his third
Stoute, though, now has five Derbys to his name, making him
the most successful current trainer in the race. The previous four
Shergar, Shahrastani, Kris Kin and North Light have had mixed fortunes
subsequently, but only Shergar won with anything like Workforce's authority.
"They seem to get sweeter as time goes on," Stoute said. "It feels
better every time. He was seriously good today. It was an exhilarating display.
Things didn't go right for him earlier in the year because I'd wanted to give
him two races beforehand and then things didn't work out at York, but that
doesn't bother me now. I'm particularly delighted for Ryan, who has put a lot
of effort into this horse. He's got a lot of natural talent and a very good
racing brain and he's ambitious. It's a joy to have him around. The Derby is
the race he most wanted to win, and having done that, he'll want to win the
Stoute is never a man to make a firm prediction on future
engagements, but the Irish Derby at the end of this month is a very obvious
next step for Workforce. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October
is presumably now his main objective in Europe this year, which might preclude
a run in the King George at Ascot in July in favour of a mid-season break.
The bookmakers, delighted to see the gamble on Rewilding foiled, were
still giving little away in their post-race quotes, which rate Workforce
between 4-1 and 6-1 for the Arc.
The Derby is no longer a stand-alone
centrepiece of the season, but is also a starting point for a run towards
autumn's all-aged championships. On that basis, a defeat of a 100-1 chance,
even by seven lengths, is one that offers some scope for hole-picking.
The effortless burst of speed he showed down the straight, however, was
the mark of a serious horse and as significant as the eventual winning margin.
With only three starts behind him, Workforce promises to keep Moore smiling for
several months to come.