Racing: Motivator the magnificent races to glory

The 226th Derby - Favourite pours on the style to leave his rivals breathless and give Murtagh his third triumph

All the pages of the storybook flipped over neatly to the fairytale ending as Motivator, the 3-1 favourite, produced an imperious performance to win the 226th Derby by five sizzling lengths. The jockey, Johnny Murtagh, almost missed the ride because of a ban, but was reprieved. The trainer, Michael Bell, was winning his first English Classic. And the latest Derby winner has more delirious owners than the rest of them put together, for he runs in the colours of the 230-strong Royal Ascot Racing Club.

All the pages of the storybook flipped over neatly to the fairytale ending as Motivator, the 3-1 favourite, produced an imperious performance to win the 226th Derby by five sizzling lengths. The jockey, Johnny Murtagh, almost missed the ride because of a ban, but was reprieved. The trainer, Michael Bell, was winning his first English Classic. And the latest Derby winner has more delirious owners than the rest of them put together, for he runs in the colours of the 230-strong Royal Ascot Racing Club.

Most of the members, who paid £6,000 apiece to join the up-market syndicate, were there to welcome their colt after his gallop into immortality. Victory, and the £725,000 first prize, was more than they could have dreamt, or dared to dream. These history-littered Surrey Downs had never seen such joyous bedlam. Yesterday was happy ever after.

Murtagh is making a hobby of collecting Blue Ribands; it was his third in six years after Sinndar in 2000 and High Chapparal three Junes ago. And it was, for those watching and for the Irishman himself, the easiest of the three. Motivator was never worse than fourth, came down the idiosyncratic descent to Tattenham Corner as if on rails, faced the long straight run to the finish with gears in hand and needed only one smack to detach himself effortlessly from his pursuers.

The French raider, Walk In The Park, swooped late from off the pace to deprive Dubawi - whose class had taken him into second place in pursuit of the winner but whose stamina ran out when the crunch came - of the runner-up spot by three lengths.

How good Motivator, now unbeaten in four runs, proves remains in the future, but Murtagh rates his Epsom performance better than those of his two previous victors. "If a Derby win can be easy, this one was," he said, "much easier than my other two. He jumped well from the stalls and as he has a lot of natural speed I was slightly concerned about the slowish pace through the first couple of furlongs. But then Seb [Sanders, on Hattan] and Pat [Smullen, on Almighty] went on and I sat in behind them.

"Coming down the hill I couldn't believe how easily I was going. Seb gave me a lovely lead into the straight and I was able to go past as soon as I wanted. At the two marker I gave him a smack. And you saw what happened.

"When he got to the front it all went quiet. I had a sneaky peek behind and I couldn't believe how far clear I was. But I was concentrating on keeping him going, making sure he didn't spook at the crowd. He is maturing, though, and ran home as straight as an arrow."

It was only on Wednesday that Murtagh knew he would be riding the colt. His place in the saddle, which he inherited when last year's rider Kieren Fallon joined the Coolmore operation, had been threatened by a rules infringement at a minor meeting, but an appeal against his careless riding ban went in his favour. "He's a very high-class horse," he added, "and there's a lot more to come." Five lengths is an impressive winning margin, one that has marked champions in the past. It was the equal of the romps by Generous and Nashwan and in fact only eight Derby winners, headed by 10-length hero Shergar, have bettered it.

Motivator, one of last year's top two-year-olds, has been handled impeccably by Newmarket-based Bell. The big bay is easily the best he has had through his hands in 17 years with a licence and was only his third Derby runner. One of his attentions to detail was to give the feisty colt a practice awayday here last month and it paid dividends; the son of the equally high-mettled Montjeu comported himself with admirable decorum.

"The build-up has been tense in places," Bell said, "and I've been smoking a bit more this past week. But I enjoyed the race. Johnny said beforehand he'd sit handy, and I wasn't too sure, but I left it to him, as he's the one who has won Derbys. Where he was, he was never going to meet traffic problems. And the acceleration the horse produced after his first-ever backhander is going to stand him in very good stead indeed. It's been a long wait, but to get the best out of a horse of this quality shows you haven't necessarily got to be one of the big batallions."

Fracas proved the best of the Irish in fourth place, a length behind Dubawi, Frankie Dettori's 13th fruitless ride in the race. Fallon's bid for three Derbys in a row failed on second favourite Gypsy King in fifth, ahead of gallant Hattan. Kong proved a donkey, not a king, last in a field reduced to 13 after outsider First Row was withdrawn lame at the start.

The race was a triumph for the young stallion Montjeu. His own sire Sadler's Wells did not get a Derby winner until his 16th crop; Montjeu has done it with his first batch of foals and, for good measure, Walk In The Park is another of his sons.

Winning the Derby while unbeaten is one thing; remaining unbeaten is quite another, a feat achieved by only nine Epsom heroes. Motivator has thrown down the gauntlet in the race that sets the standard. It will be picked up in Paris this afternoon at the first running of the French Derby over its controversial new shortened distance. The favourite is another undefeated Montjeu colt, the Andre Fabre-trained Hurricane Run.

Derby Details

1 Motivator (J Murtagh) 3-1 Fav

2 Walk In The Park (A Munro) 8-1

3 Dubawi (L Dettori) 5-1

4 Fracas (J P Spencer) 8-1

Winning trainer:

M Bell

Winning owner:

Royal Ascot Racing

Distances: 5, 3, 1

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin