Racing

Champ O’Brien unstoppable

Irish trainer wins both the Derby and Oaks at Epsom

Serpentine sprang a huge surprise to give top Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien a record eighth Epsom Derby on Saturday in front of deserted stands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Just two races earlier, he won the Epsom Oaks for fillies with Love (see story on next page).

Both Group 1 races were over 2,400m.

The 50-year-old O'Brien was not at England's famous racetrack to experience history in the making and watched from the stables in Ireland.

Serpentine led from start to finish to give jockey Emmet McNamara his first win in the race at 25-1. Two outsiders filled the other placings with 50-1 shot Khalifa Sat second and another of O'Brien's six runners, Amhran Na Bhfiann, third at 66-1.

O'Brien was typically humble about his achievement.

"The big races, it is incredibly satisfying when they do win," said O'Brien via Zoom.

"They are so difficult to make them happen. It is such a long road from the breeding process to the present time. Everyone is so important and you never really expect anything. You do your best and, when it happens, you accept the result."

O'Brien said Serpentine's performance did not surprise him, like it did those who had been able to watch on course - a stunned silence greeted the winner as he passed the winning post.

"I was always convinced of his ability and that he would stay and young Emmett gave him a cracking ride," he added.

McNamara had to pinch himself after passing the post, especially as it was his first win since last October.

"Surreal empty stands and I did not hear a sound from behind me all race," said the 30-year-old McNamara. "All I heard was the horse breathing.

"I think I am about to wake up from doing a piece of work on the gallops. I got a little bit of a freebie.

"Aidan said go your own tempo, give him a breather and then keep going. He was right." - AFP

HORSE RACING