Padraig Beggy will ‘go down in history’ after riding Wings Of Eagles to Epsom Derby
EPSOM, ENGLAND // In the end, the Derby was won by a horse who was a rank outsider ridden by a jockey who had never ridden in the Derby.
Wings Of Eagles came from the clouds under Padraig Beggy to win the 238th Derby and hand Aidan O’Brien his sixth victory in the British showpiece.
Out of O’Brien’s six runners, Wings Of Eagles was no better than fourth in the stable pecking order beforehand, with just a sole maiden victory to his name from six starts.
Beggy had won only the single Group race in his varied and colourful career but if nobody knew who the Irishman was prior to the most valuable race ever staged in Britain, they will for years to come. He even got the opportunity to meet the Queen.
“This is brilliant to win this,” Beggy, 31, said. “I dreamt about this when I was young but I’d nearly given up. All my family are watching this. My girlfriend, family — everybody. I’ll go down in history. I’ve won the Derby, so at least I will be remembered for something.”
Beggy first sat on a horse at the age of 14 when working for a local trainer called Owen Weldon in Ireland. In 2003 he went to work for Kevin Prendergast and then divided his time between Ireland, Britain and Australia.
Following a brush with the law down under he was taken under O’Brien’s wing three years ago. The Ballydoyle trainer has now given him the ultimate leg-up in life.
“Padraig is a brilliant rider,” O’Brien said. “He is strong with a great mind and is tactically aware. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to have him working with us.”
Beggy’s tactical nous was clear from the off, and it is obvious that he is cunning, too.
It appeared to go horribly wrong for Godolphin from the start, when Benbatl, one of three runners sporting the royal blue silks, was slowly away under Oisin Murphy. Colm O’ Donoghue whipped the field along at the front end with Ana O’Brien, only the third woman to ride in the race, keeping the pace true in second on the Anvil.
Pat Cosgrave found a dream position on the rail for Best Solution in fourth, but Beggy was out the back in third last place of the 18-runner field and was keeping tabs on Ballydoyle’s leading hope in Cliffs Of Moher and Ryan Moore.
As the field straightened up for home, Moore angled out wide on Cliffs Of Moher and Beggy felt that was the right time to follow one of the most accomplished jockeys in the field through the pack.
Moore went around the outside, however, while Beggy went through the heavy traffic in the middle and his mount was not entirely comfortable on the cambered course.
With a furlong to go, Moore and Cliffs Of Moher had settled down to another shootout with Frankie Dettori on Cracksman, a replay of their tussle in the Oaks the previous day, but as they softened each other up, Wings Of Eagles found his stride and swooped to provide an unheralded victory.
Beggy said afterwards that he knew he had done enough 100 metres from the line, but so did Moore.
“Cliffs Of Moher ran a great race and I thought I had won,” Moore said. “He possibly got a little tired at the line.”
The pace was so fierce that The Anvil finished 17th, giving Ana O’Brien the distinction of becoming the most successful female rider in the race. It also allowed Murphy the time to keep Benbatl weaving through tired horses to finish fifth and best of the Godolphin runners. The Dubai-based operation have now run 33 horses in the Derby without success.
“I am very happy with the run and he finished well,” Murphy said. “He did not travel early but finished very well in the straight.”
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