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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid celebrates 'special' first Epsom Derby victory for Godolphin as Masar wins

Trainer Charlie Appleby delighted with "fantastic team effort" as his colt finishes ahead of Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, spoke of his pride after seeing Godolphin win the Epsom Derby for the first time yesterday as Masar triumphed.

Ridden by William Buick, Masar raced behind the five horses ahead of him in the first half of the race before unleashing a run from the outside to win by a length and-a-half from Dee Ex Bee in the race in south England.

“It is not easy to win the Derby but we have won it,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a post-race television interview.

“This a big race and there is always something special about it. My daughter is here and the horse came from Dubai. I’m very happy. Horses are in my blood. I love horses, and I love racing.”

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Godolphin had come close in the past to winning Britain’s richest horse race, which is valued at £1.5 million (Dh7.3m).

They finished second on three occasions with City Honours in 1998, Rule of Law in 2004 and Jack Hobbs in 2015.

Saxon Warrior, who had beaten Masar in the 2000 Guineas, had been the pre-event favourite to win the race.

But the colt trained by Charlie Appleby turned the tables when it mattered as he timed his charge right to be triumphant in the 239th staging of the race.

Saxon Warrior could only finish fourth after meeting trouble in running, with Roaring Lion completing the top three in third spot.

Appleby told reporters: “It’s not sunk in yet. It still feels a dream.

“I’m delighted for Sheikh Mohammed, firstly for giving me the position to be here and I’ve always said that all I want to do is be the first person to have a Derby winner in Godolphin blue.

“I’ve always said when I started this job I wanted to be the first person to have a Derby winner in Godolphin blue.

“It’s a fantastic team effort, Brett Doyle rides him every day and has been sweet on him since the Guineas. He said he would stay and William has given him a peach of a ride.”

Of his emotions as Buick guided Masar down the home stretch to take the victory, Appleby admitted he did endure some anxious moments. He added: “The last 100 yards felt a long way. It’s just great. To have a Derby winner for Godolphin is fantastic.”

Appleby said that he had come to the race with minimal expectations of Masar being triumphant and that had helped, in hindsight, make the victory that bit sweeter along with the disappoitment of missing out on winning the Oaks on Friday when Wild Illusion had to be content with second.

“I came here today very relaxed and just wanted the horse to do his best,” he said.

“It’s been so good. It still hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t for days or even weeks.

“I was always just hoping the door was going to open for us this season and, to be honest, I did think it was going to be yesterday.

“The great thing about the team around me, especially His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, is that they are so supportive.

“I’m a realist - I’ve been in this game all my life and we were beaten fair and square yesterday. You’ve just got to take it on the chin and take the positives out of it.

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“Today was another day though. He put up a great performance in the Guineas and it was always going to be the best trial I thought.”

Buick admitted that winning the race completed a childhood dream. He said in a TV interview: “Since I wanted to be a jockey this was the day I was dreaming of.”

The jockey added he had feared he might go his entire career without a Derby victory.

“I’ve come close a couple of times, 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 added. “I knew before the race that Masar would be a straightforward ride which is what you want in the Derby and that was how it worked out.

“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.