AIDAN O’BRIEN claimed a record third straight Derby success after Australia, described by the master trainer as the best horse he has trained, lived up to the billing with a show-stopping success in Britain’s premier Flat race.
Out of Oaks winner Ouija Board by Derby hero Galileo, Australia, sent off a well-backed 11-8 favourite, fulfilled his destiny under O’Brien’s son Joseph with a performance that oozed class.
Runner-up Kingston Hill (15-2) pushed Australia all the way, while John Gosden’s late decision to supplement Romsdal (20-1) was vindicated with a third-placed finish.
Australia followed the O’Brien-trained Ruler Of The World (2013) and Camelot (2012) into Derby folklore as the trainer’s domination continued with a fifth success in total.
He said: “We are in a very privileged position to have the horses we have. Joseph said he had it in his mind where he wanted to be, he wanted to keep it safe and that is what he did.
“We said what we thought – that he was very special always and to have the pace that he has for a Galileo is incredible.”
After riding his second Derby winner following Camelot two years ago, Joseph O’Brien added: “I had a grand position and I was going easy coming down the hill. They went a nice even pace and I was cantering all the way. I maybe got there too soon and he had a look. He is the best.”
As pacesetters Our Channel and Kingfisher began to tread water at the top of the home straight, O’Brien sat quietly as he brought Australia into contention with a powerful run.
The writing was on the wall for Australia’s rivals a long way from the finish as he went clear at the two-furlong marker, but to Kingston Hill’s credit he kept chipping away at the lead, only going down by a length and three-quarters at the line in the 235th running of the Derby.
Romsdal showed strong staying qualities to finish a clear third, with Arod, one of many to get warm in the preliminaries in muggy conditions, coming home in fourth.
The form of last month’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas came to the fore as Australia stepped up on his Newmarket third over the extra half mile, while Kingston Hill, a son of Coolmore stallion Mastercraftsman and eighth in the Guineas, also improved for the longer trip.
Kingston Hill’s owner, Paul Smith, son of Australia’s part-owner Derrick, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. We were very hopeful coming here and he has run a superb race. I know they thought a lot of Australia and we tried to put it up to him. Dad has got the bragging rights so he can pay the bill tonight.”
The Coolmore axis of Smith snr, Michael Tabor and John Magnier become the first owners responsible for four consecutive Derby winners as their colours were also carried to glory by the Andre Fabre-trained Pour Moi in 2011.
Australia’s breeder Lord Derby, whose family the Classic is named after, won the Oaks as an owner-breeder with Ouija Board, who foaled the Classic winner.
“What a dream,” he said. “We’re back here ten years after Ouija Board’s win in the Oaks and I thought that was the best feeling I could get. This is the ultimate – to win the race how many great grandfathers started off in 1780.”
Australia may have brought delight to his connections, but he delivered despair for the bookmakers as a tide of support lowered his price to 11-8 from a morning high of 5-2.
The victory sparked a £10 million payout to punters, with one Coral customer alone collecting £440,000 after the success completed a treble, which included the Willie Mullins-trained Cheltenham Festival winners Vautour and Faugheen.
Paddy Power make Australia their 2-5 favourite for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on June 28 and cut the three-year-old into 5-1 (from 10) for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
Gosden, who also saddled Western Hymn to finish sixth, has ruled out the prospect of Romsdal running at the Curragh.
He said: “He has run a blinder and is very much a St Leger type and won’t go for the Irish Derby.
“He ran in a snaffle but Hughesie [jockey Richard Hughes] felt he would have been better in a ring bit. He had one of those on when he worked badly last week and I felt he resented it so I didn’t use one today. Maybe I should have done.”
Arod’s trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, a two-time Derby winner who also saddled the fourth home in Friday’s Oaks with Inchila, said: “He’s run a great race. Jamie [Spencer] said he just got shuffled back a little bit but he’s still a big baby.
“He’ll grow up a lot and had been quite hard trained for today so I’d say he’d have a little bit of a break now. Hopefully we get a nice hot summer and he gets some fast ground – that’s what he wants.”
Australia: what makes him different is his natural pace, says Aidan O’Brien
The last word belongs to O’Brien, who revealed what makes Australia so special and held in higher regard than the likes of other world-beaters Galileo himself, Giant’s Causeway and High Chaparral.
“He has terrible pace, terrible class, he’s able to go from A to B so easy, which is so unique for a horse that’s bred the way he is,” he said.
“Everyone knew every sinew in his body was going to be tested here, he was going to have to quicken and have to travel. What makes him different is his natural pace.”