EPSOM // Any dreams Godolphin harboured of a first Derby success for their blue silks were crushed yesterday by a brutally efficient performance from Workforce. Even the track record, set by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Lammtarra, who carried the silks of Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum to victory in 1995, was smashed as the Khalid Abdullah-owned colt put in a power-packed run to win in a time of 2mins 31.33secs.
Ridden by Ryan Moore, Workforce registered an easy seven-length success from long-time pacemaker At First Sight and Mahmood al Zarooni's Rewilding. Al Zir, trained by bin Suroor, was sixth, while Buzzword, also trained by al Zarooni, was eighth. The winner, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, had advertised his credentials in the Dante Stakes at York just over three weeks ago by finishing second to this afternoon's Prix Du Jockey Club entrant Cape Blanco.
No colt had ever gone on to win the Derby after defeat on the Knavesmire, but Workforce ridiculed any suggestion that his inexperience would be a barrier to success in a race which his trainer could already boast four wins. "These wins get sweeter as time goes on," Stoute said afterwards. "It feels better every time. He showed he was a seriously good horse today." And Stoute should know what a seriously good horse is, having sent Shergar out to an easy 10-length success in 1981. That win complemented his victories with Shahrastani in 1986, as well as Kris Kin and North Light in 2003 and 2004.
If Stoute has a history of success in the Derby, then for Moore it was a novelty. Two days ago, the 26-year-old had never managed to win a Classic, and after a victory in the Oaks on Friday aboard Snow Fairy, the champion jockey was pretty casual, simply stating afterwards, "It's not the Derby." Moore certainly isn't the most loquacious character in the weighing room, and the cool temperament he displays in the saddle is what makes him reserved in other walks of life.
"To me it is the most important race," Moore said quietly after the biggest win of his career. "It's a special day and it's been really nice to get a good reception here." It all looked so rosy for Godolphin earlier in the day when Frankie Dettori partnered the exciting Antara to victory in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes for bin Suroor. Before this week, Godolphin's long-standing trainer had saddled just three winners since he returned from Dubai, but on racing's biggest stage, he showed off the sort of skills that made him a four-time champion trainer.
Antara, who had raced in Germany last year, had not seen a racecourse for 245 days but Dettori unleashed the four-year-old filly up the straight to what he thought was a facile victory. It was not so easy, however, because in Reggane and rider Gerald Mosse, the Godolphin team had committed rivals, who flew in the final furlong. "I was trying to keep my filly together," Dettori revealed. "I was never happy on her. I knew Gerald was coming but I thought 'just keep her balanced and get her to the line'.
"I gave her a backhander and I lost a bit of momentum so I had to push her out." After a characteristic flying dismount, Dettori shouted to the crowd with exuberance: "I want to be back here in an hour and 15 minutes!" Dettori may have been beaten later in the Derby on Rewilding, but he was unbowed, and as is a jockey's wont, he was dreaming of the future and the St Leger in September. "It was a great run," said the Italian, who was beaten last year in the final Classic of the season on Kite Wood by stablemate Mastery. "He did not have the gears to go with the winner but stayed on well. He's a lovely one for Doncaster."