Galileo reached for the stars with a glittering performance to hand Michael Kinane his first Irish Derby victory in 2001, writes Will Jennings.
At 42 years old, the jockey’s chances of being crowned Curragh king would rely on defying mathematics but Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old completed a run to almost defy physics and win by four lengths in County Kildare.
And it was a triumph that bolstered Kinane’s bulging trophy cabinet, adding to his seven previous Irish Classic victories to make it a clean sweep of successes in the Irish showpieces.
Galileo arrived at the Curragh with a formidable reputation. A majestic 14-length victory over John Oxx’s Taraza in his only race as a two-year-old marked him out as a precocious runner to watch, before a further triumph over future St Leger winner Milan
at the start of 2001 got his three-year-old campaign underway with a bang.
And he made it a hat-trick of Leopardstown victories in his second race of the season, building valuable momentum heading into the Epsom Derby in June.
Questions were raised over whether he could emulate his exploits in England, however, as he descended on the Downs as the joint 11-4 favourite alongside 2000 Guineas winner Golan.
But Galileo responded to those doubts with aplomb. With the evergreen Kinane on board, he surged to a thrilling finish to topple the Newmarket winner and prompt the jubilant jockey to - reportedly - hail him as the best horse he had ever ridden.
Back to the Emerald Isle it was then, for a joust at the Curragh where O’Brien’s runner was bidding to become just the 14th horse to scoop the coveted English and Irish Derby double.
An eagerly-anticipated rematch with Golan was the event’s pre-race narrative, with Oxx’s Exaltation I also intensifying the pressure on the O’Brien’s Ballydoyle bomber.
And with Kinane still yet to add the Irish Derby to his brilliant collection of triumphs - despite 16 attempts - the weight of expectation on Galileo was only heightened.
The 42-year-old showed all his experience in the saddle, however. Kinane delivered an intelligent performance at Newbridge, allowing Exaltation I’s stablemate Pugin to cruise at the front for large parts of the race.
And the charge to the line came with two furlongs to go, as Galileo oozed superiority to usurp Pugin’s lead and romp to a four-length victory ahead of Derby Italiano winner Morshdi.
While it made it five wins from five for Galileo it was all about Kinane in Kildare, who finally completed the full set of Irish Classics and became an undisputed immortal on the Flat.
"It's nice to get it, I've been a long time waiting,” he said.
"But sometimes we build these things up bigger than they should be. Galileo won the race, all I had to do was hold on and sit tight.
"He has that gear where everything is in his scope, he does it all effortlessly - we knew they were going to go today but he has so much speed and so much stamina.”
Galileo would go on to triumph in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and pick up the prestigious European Champion Three-Year-Old Colt award, following in the footsteps of Montjeu and Sinndar who had also reigned supreme at the Curragh
in 1999 and 2000.
2001 was Galileo’s year, however, as O’Brien’s star propelled Kinane into the stratosphere with a pulsating performance.