Aidan O'Brien became the fourth trainer to win the Epsom Derby seven times when Anthony Van Dyck prevailed by half a length from compatriot Madhmoon. Seamie Heffernan was winning Flat racing's Blue Riband for the first time with O'Brien responsible for the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth. A high-class, if not top-class, juvenile last year, the son of Galileo has improved since tackling middle distances as a three year old winning the Lingfield Derby Trial on his return to action last month. Indeed, stamina appears to be his strong suit having been pushed along turning for home. Staying on strongly in the closing stages, he prevailed in a blanket finish involving three of his stablemates. The runner-up also improved for a step up in distance having finished well in the 2000 Guineas. It is possible ten furlongs will prove to be Kevin Prendergast's charge's optimum trip. Humanitarian fared best of the home contingent ridden patiently before running on to fill seventh position. He has more to offer. The disappointments of the race were Bangkok and Telecaster who occupyed the last two places. They are much better than they showed over the weekend.
The Maidens In Waiting section in Ahead On The Flat has made a decent start to the season with Durston (6/1) becoming the fifth individual horse to win this year. David Simcock's three year old had run creditably on his reappearance over ten furlongs at Windsor. Stepping up to a mile and six on his handicap debut off a mark of 79 at Doncaster on Saturday, the Sea The Moon colt relished the longer trip and was given a fine ride by Paul Hanagan to beat Mark Johnston's pair Themaxwecan and Summer Moon by a head and neck. The stable's horses invariably improve as the year goes on and it is not beyond the realms of possibility he could develop into a Melrose Stakes type horse in late summer.
Overall, AOTF had a good day with Durston (6/1), Indian Blessing (6/1), Le Don De Vie (5/1) and Watchable (8/1) all winning on Saturday, while Obligate (Appendix) maintained her unbeaten record in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly on Sunday. The daughter of Frankel had won a Listed contest over the same C&D on her reappearance and produced a similarly gutsy effort to fend off the late challenge of Pure Zen. Trained by Pascal Bary, she is a smart filly. Other winners in AOTF on Sunday included Aspetar (11/1), Dal Horrisgle (3/1), Newcross (2/1) and Oi The Clubb Oi's (8/13). Newcross was an easy winner of the concluding event at Listowel. Tony Martin's six year old, who is featured in the What's The Craic in Ireland section (page 123), had run well on his reappearance at Navan at the end of April and appreciated the longer trip on Sunday. Ridden by Tom Hamilton, he won by two and a half lengths off a mark of 83. It will be interesting to see if he is steered towards something like the Ascot Stakes or the Northumberland Plate. There is a good staying handicap to be won with the half-brother to Group 1 winner Fascinating Rock and Galway Hurdle winner Quick Jack.
I will be back to update the Diary early next week. In the meantime, it hasn't been a bad weekend of anyone called Van Dyck or should that be Van Dijk?
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