Bolshoi Ballet was unable to dance to Derby glory as a
dazzling display from Adayar dashed Irish hopes on the Epsom Downs, writes
Aidan O’Brien had fired a single dart at the Classic but strong pre-race favourite Bolshoi Ballet, ridden by Ryan Moore, was well beaten in Surrey.
Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney finished fourth but it was Charlie Appleby’s Adayar who stole the show with a storming triumph in the 241-year-old race.
With jockey Adam Kirby on board, Adayar romped to a fine four-and-a-half length victory as Bolshoi Ballet – heavily tipped to hand O’Brien a ninth win in the race – looked to run out of steam.
The Ballydoyle three-year-old had sparkled when winning the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown last month and despite looking well-placed for much of the 1m4f bout, was unable to stay the distance and came home seventh.
Mac Swiney, under evergreen rider Kevin Manning, battled admirably but Appleby’s Adayar delivered a stunning finish to topple both Mojo Star and Hurricane Lane in style.
O’Brien was hunting his third consecutive win in the race after Anthony Van Dyck and Serpentine had reigned supreme in 2019 and 2020.
Seamie Heffernan had piloted Anthony Van Dyck to victory two years ago before Serpentine, ridden by Emmet McNamara, waltzed to an unforgettable triumph in splendid isolation behind closed doors last July.
Bolshoi Ballet – who also won in Group 3 company at Leopardstown in April – was strongly backed ahead of the contest and looked well-poised to hand O’Brien a remarkable 41st triumph in an English Classic.
But having never run further than 1m2f, he was unable to stay the distance as Kirby hit the accelerator in thrilling fashion to catapult Adayar and Appleby to a memorable victory.
Joseph O’Brien’s Southern Light, ridden by Declan McDonogh, came home 11th on a disappointing day for the Irish raiders at Epsom.
Emotional winning jockey Kirby, 32, said: “I couldn't believe it. All I could think was my mother would be watching. That made me a bit sad but she'd have been so happy.
"There's ups and downs in racing but when it comes to Charlie Appleby, he's a top man and I can't thank him enough. I had no choice but to stick to the rail and he got there quick and was gutsy."
Appleby, now a two-time Derby winner after William Buick rode Masar to victory in 2018 but still 38 Classics behind O’Brien, laughed: “I felt good and then Aidan [O'Brien] went past and reminded me I'm a few behind!
“I'm delighted for Adam. He gave him a fantastic ride and he was hungry to achieve this.
“Adam knew this horse better than most as he broke him in. He's out of a homebred mare. It's a huge team effort and I feel so privileged to be standing here after winning a second Derby.”