Favorite Australia Strikes in Epsom Derby

Favorite Australia Strikes in Epsom Derby
Photo: Trevor Jones
Australia pulls away from Kingston Hill to win the Investec Epsom Derby.
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Australia won the Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) June 7 and provided trainer Aidan O’Brien with a third straight win in the classic and fifth overall at Epsom Downs.

The regally bred son of Coolmore's 2001 Epsom Derby winner and leading European sire Galileo out of European and United States champion Ouija Board, defeated Kingston Hill, with supplemental entrant Romsdal third and Arod fourth. Australia is campaigned by Coolmore partners Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, along with Malaysian architect Teo Ah Khing, designer of Meydan's grandstand. 

Ridden by Joseph O'Brien, Australia won by 1 1/2 lengths as the 11-8 favorite and covered 1 1/2 miles in 2:33.63 on good turf. Kingston Hill, the 15-2 second choice, outfinished Romsdal (20-1) by 3 1/4 lengths for second.

O'Brien took the race with Ruler Of the World last year, Camelot in 2012, High Chaparral in 2002, and Galileo the previous year. The most successful Derby-winning trainers are Robert Robson, John Porter and Fred Darling, who each sent out seven winners. O'Brien ties Sir Michael Stoute as the winningest Derby trainers in recent years, with five apiece. 

Joseph O'Brien bided his time with Australia, who traveled easily from midfield on the outside as Our Channel went at a steady clip at the front, pursued by Kingfisher and Kingston Hill. The chestnut colt took closer order rounding Tattenham Corner and struck for the lead coming down the hill. Kingston Hill, racing on the inside, and Australia cleared the field, but the winner proved much the best.

"I had a grand position and was going very easily coming down hill, nearly too easy," Joseph O'Brien told England's Press Association. "I got there a bit too soon, I was cantering all the way-I got there too soon, but I had to stay going when I did.

"Horses don't come easier to ride than this fellowhe's the best (I've ridden)."

Australia came into the race having finished a close third in his 2014 debut in the QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) May 3 at Newmarket. He posted two wins and a third from three starts as a juvenile. Following a runner-up finish in his career bow last June at the Curragh, he took a seven-furlong maiden there in July in his second start and subsequently won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial (Ire-III) at Leopardstown in September to conclude the year.

The colt was bred in Great Britain by Lord Derby's Stanley Estate Co., which campagined 2004 Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) winner Ouija Board. The daughter of Cape Cross posted a 10-3-5 record from 22 career starts in a brilliant career in which she earned more than $6.3 million. Victories in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. I) in 2004 and 2006 led to championships in the U.S. She also won the 2004 Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) and defeated males in the 2006 Prince of Wales's Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot and 2005 Hong Kong Vase (HK-I) at Sha Tin. Ouija Board, who was trained by Ed Dunlop, was Europe's Horse of the Year in 2004 and 2006.

In a notable achievement, Australia is the first offspring of an Epsom Derby winner and Epsom Oaks first-place finisher to win the Epsom Derby. Lammtarra, winner of the 1995 Epsom Derby, is by 1970 English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II but his dam, Snow Bride, was awarded the 1989 Oaks on a controversial disqualification. 

"We've always thought he was very specialthe way he is bred makes him very special," Aidan O'Brien said. "The way he traveled through the race he must be very special."

Consigned by Watership Down Stud, acting as agent at the 2012 Tattersalls October yearling sale, where the colt was offered in the elite Book 1 catalog, Australia was bought by Coolmore bloodstock adviser Demi O'Byrne for 525,000 guineas ($841,313).

Red Galileo rallied from last to finish fifth, followed by Western Hymn, True Story, Fascinating Rock, Ebanoran, Kingfisher, Impulsive Moment, Orchestra, Our Channel, Pinzolo, Sudden Wonder, and Geoffrey Chaucer.
 
Australia's co-owner Teo Ah Khing is also founder of China Horse Club, a private club for Chinese interests with horseracing at its core. Teo has become friendly with John Magnier and other Coolmore interests through his growing involvement in racing, and eagerly accepted when offered an interest in Australia.
 
This year's Derby marked  the first time there has been any Chinese representation in the race.
 
"This win will make sure a lot of Chinese and Asian interests will pay special attention to this famous race," he said. "My heart was beating very fast as the horses came down the straight. Now we all hope he continues to become a great racehorse, and one day a great stallion.
 
"This is my first time at Epsom and the atmosphere is electric. It's very different and there's a charm to that. It's fantastic--now I look forward to visiting Royal Ascot."

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