Racing / 214th Derby: Kinane looks back from a new elevation: Ken Jones on the jockey who rode over the experts' predictions and triumphed on the reject of a rival

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The Independent Online
NOVICES don't win the Derby do they? Not often. Not since Morston in 1973. But when Michael Kinane glanced back with slightly more than a furlong left to run at Epsom he knew there was nothing in the field to beat Commander In Chief.

Kinane kept the brown colt in touch coming down the hill and when the best of the others started to falter he pressed the button. 'Nothing was going to catch us,' he said.

Kinane was standing beside a lectern in a room beneath the grandstand and his thick eyebrows were about level with the microphone. Behind, on a large screen, the race was being shown again. This time there was no reason for Kinane to look around because he could still see it all inside his head. It was 10 years since his first Derby ride and he had made a mess of experts' predictions.

Not in Newmarket he hadn't. 'The horse goes well at home and the boys up there will have had plenty on,' somebody said.

It wasn't meant to be like this, with plenty of support for Tenby, the favourite in a moderate field.

When the runners came out most eyes were on Tenby and Fatherland, who raised hopes that Lester Piggott and Vincent O'Brien would repeat past triumphs

Relative anonymity suited Kinane. The pressure was on his stable-companion, the choice of Pat Eddery. 'I let them fight it out early on. Kept him out of trouble,' Kinane added.

Watching from a lawn along the rail, Henry Cecil was peering through a forest of fancy millinery.

Tall as he is, standing more than six feet, Cecil could see only the jockeys' caps as the horses flew by. He was looking for the pink of Tenby. But the cap out in front was white, that of Commander In Chief, his second choice.

Had the going been firmer, Cecil might not have gone with the winner. 'If the ground had dried out, Commander in Chief would have been withdrawn,' he said.

So the fates came up in Kinane's favour as they did when he stopped growing to a weight that would have made it impossible to ride on the Flat. 'I was due to go into National Hunt racing like my father,' he said.

There was just the trace of a smile on the 33-year-old Irishman's face and he was in a hurry.

Booked to ride at The Curragh last night he had no time for celebrations. 'That will have to wait,' he said, but knowing that a great cheer would go up for him in his homeland.

Cecil looked slightly bemused, a cigarette burning away in his fingers. When Commander In Chief scraped home recently at York he was not sure about running him in the Derby. 'We thought about it a lot before deciding that he should be given a chance,' Cecil said. 'He was improving a lot and it's nice to have two arrows to your bow'.

In Eddery's mind Commander In Chief was not up to it: too green, too slow. He chose Tenby. But as somebody said, how many jockeys are good witnesses.