After decades of trying to land the most coveted prize in world racing, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai finally won the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday as the William Buick-ridden Masar (16/1) powered home to a memorable success.
Third behind Saxon Warrior in the Qipco 2000 Guineas over a mile having previously landed the Group 3 Craven Stakes over the same course and distance by a massive nine lengths, Masar had been the forgotten horse of the Derby as all eyes focused on Aidan O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior (4/5f), the horse bidding to put himself in line for the Triple Crown. The favourite was denied a run over two furlongs out but never appeared to be going well enough under Ryan Moore, who had been niggling at him from the home turn. He eventually kept on at one pace to finish fourth.
Masar, on the other hand, travelled beautifully through the blue riband event, sailing down the centre of the track to take over from the fading Hazapour well over a furlong from home. John Gosden’s Dante Stakes winner Roaring Lion (6/1) went off in pursuit of the Charlie Appleby-trained winner inside the furlong but never looked likely to peg him back. In the end he was just edged out of second by the valiant Mark Johnston-trained Dee Ex Bee (20/1), who stayed on well – and ran a fine St Leger trial – but was a length-and-a-half behind the hero of the day at the line.
“This is huge, it’s massive,” said Buick in his post-race interview with ITV Racing. “I think I’ve had seven or eight rides and while I know people have had more without winning, I was wondering if my time was ever going to come.
“He stayed the trip, he travelled beautifully. The Guineas didn’t happen for him, but he’s a very good horse and the team believed in him. Since I wanted to be a jockey this was the day I was dreaming of.”
“I was jumping up and down in the final furlong,” admitted Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of the Kingdom of Dubai. “Horses are in my blood. I love them.”
Previously 40/1 in the ante-post market for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October, Masar is now a top priced 12/1 shot with Bet365 for Europe’s greatest all-age mile-and-a-half race.
Aidan O’Brien, trained of the defeated odds-on favourite was philosophical about his potential superstar’s defeat. “This is probably the first complicated track he’s had to handle,” said the Ballydoyle maestro. “It could have been he was just in awe of everything. The next run is going to tell us an awful lot. We’ll see how he is but I wouldn’t rule out the Irish Derby.”