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O’Brien thrilled to see City Of Troy show his true colours

O’Brien thrilled to see City Of Troy show his true colours
O’Brien thrilled to see City Of Troy show his true colours

Why was he ever doubted? In winning his record-extending 10th Derby, Aidan O’Brien once again showcased otherworldly talents as he brought City Of Troy back from the precipice to show just why he has always been seen as a superstar in waiting.

Having looked so imperious at two, last year’s champion juvenile had run such a lacklustre race in the 2000 Guineas, dashing all the dreams and talk of the Triple Crown.

It would have been some story, too, given his sire Justify won the American Triple Crown. But the fact O’Brien has now won the Derby with one of his sons and he is now a Coolmore stallion, could prove invaluable in the future.

O’Brien felt City Of Troy blew his Guineas chance immediately on coming out of the stalls, and for all his perfectionism, he was very hard on himself in the aftermath.

As ever, he was quick to deflect the post-Derby praise. But this was all about one man and his ability – just like 12 months ago with Auguste Rodin – to bring a colt back from a lamentable run at Newmarket to win the Derby.

“We felt we’d never had a horse like him last year, but I left him too fresh for the Guineas and he exploded out of the stalls which sent his heart rate through the roof,” explained O’Brien.

“That was the one stone we never looked under and we’d never had to look under it before, we never expected that to happen. Before he could get his breath back, he was out and gone.

“It took us two to three weeks to get him back to the stage where we could try the stalls again, and when we did we had the Fitbit on him and his heart rate was way above 240, so we knew what happened in Newmarket.

“We had to give him time and the last day he went back in the stalls he was as calm as anything, but because he didn’t officially play up in the stalls at Newmarket, he couldn’t get a ticket to go in late today, so he had to go in the middle, so we just had to hope he stayed relaxed and he did.”

One more object in his way was his draw in stall one, seen by many to be a huge disadvantage – and there was also a loose horse for Ryan Moore to contend with after Voyage parted company with Pat Dobbs coming out of the stalls.

“We decided with two strong stayers in the race and with where Ryan was drawn, we’d make it a real test and true run, as we wanted to find out if he’d stay and did he have the ability. Ryan was very patient on him and gave him a great ride,” said O’Brien.

“Ryan did say he was very green and that was the first time he’d been dropped in today, so I’m delighted.

“It’s very exciting for us to have Justify coming along and the Justifys with Galileo (dam’s sire) is even more class, as it showed today.

“Sporting life can take all turns, there’s only so much you can control. In sport, you can get forgotten very quick and everyone had opinions, which they are entitled to, some negative, some positive, but he had a lot to lose by running today.

“I’m so grateful to Ryan for the ride he gave him and there’s so many people to thank.

“I left him too fresh before the Guineas and treated him with too much respect in the winter, I wasn’t hard enough on him. We hadn’t put him in the stalls, as we didn’t think it would happen, it wasn’t on our list, but going forwards it will be – you’re learning every year.

“The problem is with a horse like that, it can cost so much, but in life if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t go forward. We’re sure that was the reason anyway and now it’s very exciting going forward.”

O’Brien had been effusive in his praise of the horse in the lead-up to the race and many could not see where the confidence came from, but he makes no apology for that.

“Before the race, I was only saying what I thought, maybe I shouldn’t do it, but today we might not get to tomorrow,” he said.

“There’s no point me thinking it today and keeping it to myself, we always speak what we really believe, but that means there’s a stick to beat you with, but listen, life is too short to worry about that.

“We make a plan, we don’t look beyond tomorrow and the rest is history, that’s just the way it is really.”

Moore himself is a man of few words. But he knew where the praise should be placed.

“It’s Aidan’s 10th Derby and he’s been breaking records for so long now it’s incredible,” said the jockey, who was winning his fourth Derby.

“There is no one like him and it is more than just being a genius and having attention to detail and dedication – there is a lot more than that.

“Everyone works hard in this game, but I don’t know anyone who works as hard as him, it’s not just his brilliance.”

The rider also stressed the importance of the win, with stud potential on the line.

He said: “We kind of believed at the end of last year we had a serious horse and to come back and win a Derby after winning a Dewhurst, not many can do it and they are few and far between.

“He’s a very special horse and a very important horse.”

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