Australia wins Epsom Derby for Aidan O’Brien treble
Congratulations to Aidan O’Brien who became the first trainer in history to win the Derby three years running at Epsom on Saturday as Australia, the 11-8 favourite, recorded a smooth success in the 235th running of the sport’s most prestigious Classic.
The fact that no trainer had previously completed a hat-trick of victories on a roll of honour which stretches back to 1780 underlined the magnitude of O’Brien’s achievement, for all that Australia, like Camelot two years ago, was a clear favourite.
He won the race as smoothly as any of his supporters could have hoped, moving easily into contention approaching the two-furlong pole and then staying on to beat the second-favourite Kingston Hill by a length-and-a-quarter, with Romsdal, a 20-1 outsider, another three-and-a-quarter lengths away in third.
“We are very lucky and privileged to have the horses we have,” O’Brien said, “and I would just like to say thanks to everyone involved with the horse, everybody at home and all the way from the sales and when he was born.”
O’Brien had made no secret of his regard for Australia, even after he could finish only third in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, and was delighted to see his belief in the colt vindicated.
“We said what we thought about Australia when often the best thing is not to say it,” O’Brien said. “We thought that he was very special always.”
In all, O’Brien has now won the Derby five times, including with Galileo, the sire of Australia, in 2001.
Two of his last three winners have also been ridden by Joseph O’Brien, his son, who celebrated his 21st birthday a fortnight ago and is a few months younger than Lester Piggott, the greatest Derby jockey of all, when he won the famous race for the second time on Crepello in 1957.
Australia’s victory was also the first in the Derby for a horse who sire and dam – Galileo and Ouija Board – were first past the post in the Derby and Oaks, the meeting’s Classic for fillies. “I cannot tell you how proud I feel,” Lord Derby, who bred the winner and is a descendant of the 12th Earl of Derby, who gave the race its name, said. “Ouija Board is now carrying a foal by Galileo [who will be a full brother or sister to Australia