Sheikh Mohammed’s quest for an Investec Derby winner in the blue of Godolphin was realised as Masar triumphed in the premier Classic at Epsom on Saturday.
The 16/1 shot, trained by Charlie Appleby, was always travelling kindly under jockey William Buick in the 239th running of the iconic race and won with authority from Dee Ex Bee, running in the colours of the Sheikh Mohammed’s son, with Roaring Lion third and Saxon Warrior, the hot favourite, fourth.
Buick had previously finished second in the Derby on two occasions – with Jack Hobbs in 2015 and Libertarian in 2013 – and was exultant after the length and a half triumph.
“I am not going to explain myself very well but it’s huge, it’s massive,” he said. “I have dreamed of this since I wanted to be a jockey. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, the Holy Grail, the be-all and end-all of everything.
“To do it for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and his family in the famous royal blue – they are very loyal supporters of me and I am just very, very happy to be part of it.
“He stayed the trip and travelled beautifully today. The Guineas (in which he finished third behind Saxon Warrior) didn’t happen for him but he is a very good horse and the team believed in him. I am just very pleased.
“I knew before the race that he would be a straightforward ride in the Derby. Charlie was very confident that this horse would stay and convinced me he would stay.”
Appleby was wreathed in smiles as he became the first trainer to provide Godolphin with a Derby victory in their blue colours. Godolphin’s previous 33 runners, dating back to 1995, had all come up short in Britain’s richest race, worth £1.5-million.
“That was absolutely amazing,” said Appleby. “All I could think of in the last furlong was that I wanted to be the first trainer to win the Derby in the Godolphin blue. It was a fantastic team effort.
“Brett Doyle (former jockey) rides him every day and has been so sweet on him since the 2000 Guineas. We just wanted to get him to switch off and we thought he’d stay. William’s given him a brilliant ride but the last 100 yards seemed a long time.
“It’s such a special day with the Royal family being here. This season, we’ve just been knocking on the door and it was the same story yesterday (when 5/2 favourite Wild Illusion was beaten into second in the Investec Oaks).
“I went home a bit disappointed, and it was a long drive home, but that’s the great thing about His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed – owner of Godolphin), he told me not to worry and that we’d try next year.
“So I came here today very relaxed and just wanted the horse to do his best. It’s been so good. It still hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t for days or even weeks.”
Mark Johnston, the trainer of 20-1 runner-up Dee Ex Bee, said: “Second sucks! I thought with one and a half furlongs to go that he’s run a great race and we’re going to be in the first four. I think there was only a very brief moment I thought we might get back up and win.”
Connections of Roaring Lion are likely to point him towards the Coral-Eclipse. Qatar Racing’s Racing and Bloodstock Manager David Redvers said: “He does us proud, my heart is still a flutter. To see a horse travel that well in a field like that, we always had a doubt that this would be a step too far and in this ground and it has been proven thus. We’re goíng to have a fun summer though!
“We’ll aim now towards something like the Eclipse; Mr (John) Gosden and Oisin (Murphy) are both thrilled with him and if it had been fast ground today – who knows we might have been able to hold on.”
Aidan O’Brien , the trainer of hot favourite Saxon Warrior, was gracious in defeat. “I’m over the moon for Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin and Charlie Appleby for Masar’s win,” he said. “I wouldn’t be making excuses for Saxon Warrior. We’ll take him home and see how he is.
“Saxon Warrior might have just got in awe of everything, but I wouldn’t take anything away from the winner – he just didn’t fire. His next run might tell us a lot.”