A French invader and a lost shoe combined to spoil the Queen's annus mirabilis as her horse was beaten in a thrilling finale yesterday to one of horse racing's blue-riband events. The day, which started with high drama in London's High Court, concluded with the French-trained Pour Moi coming from behind to win the Derby at Epsom.
The three-time Derby winner Kieren Fallon was barred from riding in the race after a High Court hearing early yesterday morning. Two judges granted an injunction preventing Fallon from riding Recital. The court heard that Fallon had signed a contract to ride Native Khan before switching to the rival horse. Fallon, 46, a six-times champion jockey, denied breach of contract and said there had been an "innocent misunderstanding".
The Queen was denied her first victory in the race when her horse Carlton House, the pre-race favourite, finished third. It was later discovered the horse lost a shoe in the final furlong. Experts estimated yesterday that the shoe had saved bookmakers an estimated £20m payout.
Carlton House had been heavily backed as the Queen's bid to become the first reigning monarch to win the classic race in over 100 years. The previous sovereign to own a Derby winner was King Edward VII, whose horse Minoru won in 1909.
The Queen was joined at Epsom by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, plus Prince Harry, as they hoped to see history being made. Coming as it did after her historic visit to Ireland, the marriage of her grandson and a state visit by President Obama, there was a feeling her good fortunes would transfer to the race track.
However, Pour Moi and its 19-year-old jockey Mickael Barzalona spoiled yesterday's fairytale ending by winning the race with a final sprint to pip the Irish horse Treasure Beach. Barzalona astonished onlookers by standing up in the saddle to celebrate before he had crossed the line. After the race he said he "didn't know why he did it – it was just a feeling".
André Fabre, the victorious trainer, accepted he would be unpopular for beating the Queen's horse: "It's such a pleasure to win this race with my young jockey in front of a big crowd."