Dubai: Dubai-owned Madhmoon was narrowly denied victory in the Epsom Derby, the world’s greatest flat race, after being beaten half a length by Anthony Van Dyck in Saturday’s 240th running of the historic contest at Epsom Racecourse in England.
Trainer by 86-year-old Kevin Prendergast and ridden by Derby debutant Oisin Murphy, Madhmoon was shaping like the winner only to come up short in the final 50 metres of the 2,400 metre contest.
Madhmoon was bidding to give Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance a third success in the English blue riband following the wins of Nashwan in 1989 and Erhaab in 1994.
A son of 2008 Epsom Derby-winning stallion New Approach, Madhmoon defended his second place ahead of Japan, who like Anthony Van Dyck, represented a seven-strong raiding party representing the powerful Irish stables of Aidan O’Brien.
In a heart-stopping finish, five horses crossed the line closely locked together with Japan, another O’Brien contender, a nose back in third.
Two more Irish raiders were involved in the photo-finish which placed Broome, ridden by Donnacha O’Brien, a further nose back in fourth and a similar distance from the fifth-placed favourite, Sir Dragonet, the mount of Ryan Moore.
Humanitarian, racing in the colours of Shaikh Zayed Bin Mohammad Racing, ran on for seventh place ahead of ninth-placed Line Of Duty, who was looking to give Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby back-to-back wins in the Derby.
O’Brien, who tied Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling as the most successful Derby-winning trainers with seven victories, said: “It’s incredible. I’m so delighted for everyone and privileged to be part of the team.
“The lads (John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith) put so much in and everyone who works in Ballydoyle and Coolmore — all the way along. There’s so many people, from the ground up to the riders, that I’d like to thank.
“I wasn’t sure (if he would win), they were all there with a chance and I knew Kevin’s horse was there (Madhmoon) and I knew he’d be in top shape and he’s a very good horse.
“We were just hoping and so delighted to be involved at that part of the race.”
Anthony Van Dyck was ridden by O’Brien’s veteran team-member, Seamus Heffernan whose previous best placings in the race were a pair of seconds with Fame And Glory in 2009 and At First Sight in 2010. It was his 12th ride in the Classic.
O’Brien commented: “Seamus had been placed so many times and has worked for us for so long — he’s such a special fellow.
“He’s always been a world-class rider and I’m so delighted for him.”
Earlier, Anna Nerium brought up a landmark 1,000th winner for trainer Richard Hannon when she came from last to first to win the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes.
Ridden by Tom Marquand, the winner scored by 1¼ length from Awesometank.
Hannon, who took over the licence from his father Richard Hannon senior in 2014 said: “It’s lovely to get it in a significant race and she’s a very good filly who was unlucky in this race last year. Dad’s not here — he was 74 two days ago and is at home with tears in his eyes according to mum — but I’ve got the rest of the family here.
“I think Dad finished up with around 4,500 successes, so I’ve got a long way to go, but 1,000 is a lot of winners and I’ll be delighted if I end up with half as many as him.
Kingsclere trainer Andrew Balding took the opening Handicap when Le Don De Vie who was a decisive 4½ length winner.