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Havlin: It nearly worked like clockwork… then I saw my worst nightmare coming

Havlin: It nearly worked like clockwork… then I saw my worst nightmare coming
Havlin: It nearly worked like clockwork… then I saw my worst nightmare coming

Robert Havlin had pictured the image in his head and was indeed having the dream Betfred Derby spin aboard Ambiente Friendly – before his “worst nightmare” loomed up on his inside and crushed his Epsom dreams.

James Fanshawe’s colt had entered the Derby reckoning with a bloodless victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial only a few weeks ago.

However, that is only where the story begins as the Gredley family opted to replace Callum Shepherd with one of the elder statesman of the weighing room and a rider fresh off the back of just his second Group One triumph in the Lockinge.

Having attracted plenty of market support as the 9-2 second-favourite, the son of Gleneagles handled every undulation of the Surrey Downs, but just as Havlin began to believe his dreams were turning into reality, Aidan O’Brien’s 3-1 market leader City Of Troy completed his redemption act to leave Ambiente Friendly and his jockey a brave, but vanquished runner-up.

Havlin said: “I saw my worst nightmare coming up my left!”

“I’ve ridden the race many times in my head the last week and it nearly worked like clockwork.

“I thought I would still be travelling at the two (furlong) pole and he was travelling good. He found plenty, but the winner found that bit extra.

“I knew he was there and I could see City Of Troy coming out the corner of my eye. But I was trying to keep an eye on the loose horse as well.

“I had a decision to make and do I go round the loose horse. I thought my only chance of beating Ryan (Moore) was to go round the loose horse – he could have taken the two of us out if I went on his inside.

“He’s been beaten by a better horse on the day and his best days are yet to come. He’s still got some growing up to do mentally.”

Ambiente Friendly’s trainer agreed that there is a big future ahead for the high-class silver medallist.

Fanshawe – having just his second Derby runner – said: “I’m really thrilled with his run, I thought coming to the two pole we had a real chance, but City Of Troy came back to his best.

City Of Troy proved too good for Ambiente Friendly
City Of Troy proved too good for Ambiente Friendly (Adam Davy/PA)

“I still hope there’s more to come from Ambiente Friendly because he’s not yet the complete article.

“His racing is going so much better and he stayed the trip so well. We had a lovely run round, Rab had him in a good position, he travelled and as an immature horse he will hopefully keep on improving.

“We have no excuses and he had a lovely run round. He travelled really well and has just been beaten by a horse back to his best. He ran very well.”

With winning trainer O’Brien taking third with Los Angeles, it was left to owner Ahmad Al Shaikh’s Green Team Racing’s pair Deira Mile and Sayedaty Sadaty to claim minor honours in fourth and fifth.

Owen Burrows trained fourth placed Deira Mile
Owen Burrows trained fourth placed Deira Mile (Mike Egerton/PA)

Deira Mile’s trainer Owen Burrows was thrilled with his charge’s run in fourth and is now targeting further Classic action in the St Leger later in the season.

He said: “We felt he acted well round here unfortunately he was a step slower out of the gates and we were a bit further back than planned, but he made up a heck of a lot of ground.

“The standout horses have finished one-two-three. Jim (Crowley) said his last furlong was his best so the Leger would be the plan, it’s been in my mind all along.”

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