Bobby Zen

EPSOM, UK — Ryan Moore wouldn’t admit to sleepless nights ahead of the Derby despite some intense speculation regarding his mount but he did concede, “It’s the one race of the year that you want to win.”

Moore kept the faith, kept his head, and just like that Coolmore has another enticing stallion prospect. 

The legend of Galileo still stalks the Epsom Downs some three years after the horse’s death, and there he was again, as the broodmare sire of this year’s Derby winner City Of Troy, just as he was last year with Auguste Rodin (Ire). Far more important, however, for the world’s most dominant stallion operation, is the identity of the winner’s sire. A Triple Crown winner on the dirt – and one who, unusually, was unraced at two – Justify is now the sire of a Derby winner. A gulf has been narrowed.

“We’re trying to make the world a smaller place,” joked Coolmore’s MV Magnier as he stood in the winner’s circle, the relief palpable, but more on behalf of the operation’s chief ally, Aidan O’Brien.

“There has been a huge amount of pressure on that man, undeservedly so, and I am just pleased that the horse has shown how good he is. It’s a huge relief,” he continued. 

“They are not machines. Horses can put in a bad run. Things can go wrong, and we’re not really sure what did go wrong. But he justified it today – excuse the pun.”

Such was the anticipation of seeing a potential superstar in City Of Troy that the disappointment ran deep following the 2,000 Guineas to the point where it was hard for those outside the camps of Ballydoyle and Coolmore to approach Epsom with anything other than caution. While the world of social media was preoccupied by the horse’s height, his trainer stood firm in his belief that City Of Troy’s reputation, at least, was in for a sudden growth spurt.

“I can’t explain to you how confident Aidan was,” Magnier said. “Last year he told me that he was happy with Auguste Rodin before the horse ran and this year he was just as confident.”

A handful of classy juveniles by Justify were sprinkled around the world last season: City Of Troy and Opera Singer were the top-rated colt and filly in Europe, Ramatuelle the top-rated two-year-old in France, and Just F Y I and Hard To Justify each landed a Grade I at the Breeders’ Cup. So far so good, but what really matters for any stallion is what their offspring can do at three. Of those named, Ramatuelle and Opera Singer managed a third-place finish in the 1,000 Guineas in England and Ireland respectively, while Just F Y I was second in the Kentucky Oaks. But Saturday’s result is what really mattered.

“It’s huge,” Magnier said. “It’s something we couldn’t have imagined, but Dad was always keen on Justify and he always thought he would be the perfect outcross for our operation. To be fair to the lads, they put their neck on the line and they ended up being offered him.

“When a horse can do it on both [dirt and turf] – he could hopefully be something we haven’t seen before.”

He continued, “All that stuff on Twitter about whether or not he was a small horse. It’s crazy. Fair enough, maybe he is a small horse but there’s one thing for sure, he’s bigger than Northern Dancer.

“Everyone was a bit gutted after the Guineas but we’ve seen the way he has worked since, and Aidan was full of confidence. Ryan said he was just different gravy today and that there’s a lot more to come from him. When Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore are confident that’s enough for me.”

With the Derby horses home but barely hosed, thoughts inevitably turn with almost indecent haste to what comes next. Anyone watching as City Of Troy took hold of his bit again after the line, as is his wont, may well think that the St Leger would be within his grasp. It seems unlikely that he will be aimed at that particular Classic, but one over on America’s west coast on the first weekend of November will certainly be given serious consideration. 

“That would be the biggest dream we could have,” Magnier said of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “We’ve tried it before and we’ll try it again, and that’s what the sport wants. They want these horses competing with the best; that’s what the people want to see. It would be great for European racing and great for worldwide racing.”

Great for the Derby, too. And on this day a proper winner is what matters most. 


The post Magnier: ‘It’s Something we Couldn’t Have Imagined’ appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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