Anthony Van Dyck Proves the Derby Hero


The 2019 Epsom Derby lived up to its billing, with Anthony Van Dyck winning an amazing race after a strong finish from the 13/2 chance, who burst through on to the rail before finishing ahead of several rivals.

There had been plenty of money for the Aidan O’Brien-trained horse leading up to the race, with several punters taking notice of an impressive performance at Lingfield, with jockey Seamie Heffernan helping the horse deliver the goods.

With two furlongs of the race remaining, it didn’t appear as though Anthony Van Dyck was the likely winner, although the horse veered towards the rail after finding a gap and then stayed on as others in the race weakened.

Trainer O’Brien therefore landed his seventh victory in the Derby, with this win coming eighteen years after the Irishman previously saddled Galileo to a maiden victory in this Epsom classic.

Anthony Van Dyck is actually the son of Galileo, with the County Tipperary trainer having seven runners in the field of thirteen on Saturday. This included the favourite Sir Dragonet who ran a fine race.

Indeed, there did look a time when Sir Dragonet was going to land the spoils as he raced keenly into the lead, although the 11/4 shot was unable to sustain the required pace all the way to the line and ended up finishing in fifth place.

Anthony Van Dyck had previously won three times as a two-year-old and had won the Lingfield Derby Trial three weeks previously to this race, with the horse in mid-division for most of the way although he found a way to win after coming off the bridle.

Madhmoon was the other horse in the heat of the battle and he was able to finish second for veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast, staying on gamely to see off Sir Dragonet but finding one too good for him.

Aidan O’Brien cut a delighted figure after the race and reserved some special praise for jockey Heffernan who was able to score his first Derby win.

O'Brien said: "It's incredible. I'm so delighted for everyone and privileged to be part of the team.
"The lads (John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith) put so much in and everyone who works in Ballydoyle and Coolmore - all the way along. There's so many people, from the ground up to the riders, that I'd like to thank.

"I wasn't sure (if he would win), they were all there with a chance and I knew Kevin's horse was there (Madhmoon) and I knew he'd be in top shape and he's a very good horse.

"We were just hoping and so delighted to be involved at that part of the race.

"Seamus had been placed so many times and has worked for us for so long - he's such a special fellow. He's always been a world-class rider and I'm so delighted for him."

Asked about plans, O'Brien said: "I think the lads will decide, like they always do, but that is what we thought - that the winner would go back to Ireland (for the Irish Derby, at the Curragh). It is a nice progression for the horse.

"We have the track, the facility and the stands there and it is a three-year-old only race - after that they have to go in against the older horses. We will see how he comes out of it and a decision will be made by them."

Heffernan said: "I was following Ryan (Moore, on Sir Dragonet), who I thought was the biggest danger. It was a big ask for Sir Dragonet on his just his third run, but mine had danced every dance.

"I've been around plenty of Derby winners, I rode his father in a trial and won it. It means a lot to win it.

"I'm always confident riding for Aidan. Anything can happen, it doesn't matter whether they are favourite or a big price - he trains them all for the big day.

"I haven't had to take a pull going down to the two pole and wait for a run in a long time - I was confident I was going to get plenty of money."

Kevin Prendergast was full of praise for second-placed Madhmoon, with the horse nudging in front towards the end of the race before being edged out by the winner.

Prendergast said: "We'd loved to have won, but we're very proud of the horse.
"(My heart) always pumps, but that (finish) made it pump a little bit more. He ran great, we're happy with him.
"It was a very good ride from Chris Hayes and he did nothing wrong. The best horse won on the day."