Sports

Favourite Australia gives trainer O'Brien his fifth victory

TOO GOOD: The favourite Australia winning the Epsom Derby easily with jockey Joseph O’Brien astride.

Aidan O'Brien became the first trainer to win the Epsom Derby three straight times in England on Saturday, with the favourite AUSTRALIA prevailing in a thrilling race.

Australia, ridden by O'Brien's 21-year-old son Joseph, repelled a late challenge by Kingston Hill (15-2) to take the honours at 11-8 in the Group 1 feature over 2,400m, winning by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

Romsdal was third at 20-1, three-and-a- quarter lengths behind.

Australia, O'Brien's fifth winner overall in the race considered the "blue riband of the turf", follows Camelot and Ruler Of The World in giving the Irish trainer his hat-trick.

O'Brien refused to take the accolades as his alone, sharing it with the team from the stables in County Tipperary.

"We're in a privileged position to have such horses," said O'Brien, who had said in May that Australia was the best horse he had ever prepared for the Derby, including his sire Galileo who won in 2001.

"We said what we thought was always the case that he was very special. He showed it today. Joseph gave him a great ride." O'Brien junior was in no doubt how good a horse Australia was.

"Horses don't come better than this one. He is the best I have ridden," said Joseph, who rode Camelot in 2012.

Two of the winner's four owners, Michael Tabor and Sue Magnier, also became the most successful owners in the race's history with six wins.

"When I was a young lad, this achievement in becoming the most successful owner in Derby history would not even have been a distant dream," said Tabor, a former bookmaker.

"You don't think that far ahead."

PURE JOY

For the winner's breeder, Lord Derby, the race being named in honour of his family, it was a moment of pure joy as he became the first member of his family to breed the winner since the 1933 champion Hyperion.

"It has been so long since we bred the winner that I can't believe this has happened," said Lord Derby, whose extraordinary racemare and winner of the 2004 Oaks, Ouija Board, is the dam of Australia.

In a twist, Paul Smith, son of another Australia's owners, Derrick Smith's, saw his horse finish runner's-up.

"My father might have got the bragging rights but I am more than happy with the way my horse performed," said Paul.

"It was a great performance," added Smith, whose star will next race in the Irish Derby, according to trainer Roger Varian.

O'Brien's Kingfisher and outsider Our Channel had set the pace from the off with the fancied True Story up close under 49-year-old Kieren Fallon, with Kingston Hill keeping a close eye on proceedings.

True Story faded coming down Tattenham Corner and swinging into the straight.

O'Brien, however, was going ominously well on Australia and, although Andrea Altzeni, enjoying a marvellous first ride in the Derby, manouvred Kingston Hill to take command off the two pacemakers, it was only a matter of time before the Irish champion came to challenge.

He duly did with 400m to run and the duo battled it out until Australia put some space between himself and Kingston Hill. - AFP.