The Duke’s Derby review

Sometimes the bookies get it wrong and sometimes the punters are the foolish ones, but on Saturday I can’t imagine many fancied Wings Of Eagles to win The Derby.

His starting price of 40/1, the fact he’d only ever won a maiden at Killarney and that he was ridden by a jockey having his first ride in the big race, were all reasons to put people off him. But, winning rider Padraig Beggy said it best when he commented that you should never rule out any horse trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Wings Of Eagles was given a superb ride by Beggy too. Held up near the back, he finished very strongly, running down his rivals, including the market leaders Cliffs Of Moher and Cracksman.

Wing of Eagles ridden by Jockey Padraug Beggy

If the horse was an outsider, so was his 31-year old jockey. Beggy has been through his fair share of ups and downs, like many of his better-known peers, including a ban for cocaine use in Australia. To come back from that and even get to the stage where he was riding in The Derby for the greatest trainer in the world, shows Padraig has steel, determination and an unnatural talent.

Fair play to him. Anyone can make a mistake, it’s how you respond afterwards that defines you as a person – and now he’s a history maker.

It’s funny how many of the same mirrors could be held up to Frankie Dettori. He’s clearly a household name, but also a man who has overcome significant mistakes. He was celebrating with a flying dismount on Friday after partnering Enable to victory in the Oaks. The John Gosden-trained heroine looks a filly of real quality, with stamina in abundance, pulling five lengths clear by the winning post.

So how can the weekend’s Classics be summed up? Well, quite simply they were both deserved winners. I think Cliffs Of Moher and Cracksman could well be better than Wings Of Eagles in the future, but he was the best horse on the day that it mattered.

If he turns out to be a one-hit wonder, so what, he’s won a Derby! Enable may have even more to offer. She was simply the best filly in the Oaks and she will continue to be a horse to follow.

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