'Incredible' City of Troy lands 10th Derby for O'Brien

Ryan Moore (in blue) on City of Troy holding off Ambiente Friendly (yellow) in the Derby with the riderless horse Voyage for company (BENJAMIN CREMEL)
Ryan Moore (in blue) on City of Troy holding off Ambiente Friendly (yellow) in the Derby with the riderless horse Voyage for company (BENJAMIN CREMEL)

City of Troy dominated the Derby on Saturday with trainer Aidan O'Brien saying he had "no doubt" this was the best of all his 10 Epsom classic winners.

The 3-1 favourite put a dismal run in the English 2,000 Guineas behind him to seal the Blue Riband, just as O'Brien's Auguste Rodin had done 12 months ago.

City of Troy beat Ambiente Friendly (9-2) by two and three quarter lengths with another O'Brien runner Los Angeles (6-1) over three lengths back in third.

The result was the latest demonstration of O'Brien's magical ability to produce a horse for the big occasion.

Asked if this was the best of all his 10 Derby winners O'Brien told ITV: "I would say no doubt, because he has the cruise, he has the balance, and he quickens and he stays. I don't think there is any doubt about that.

"Listen, he is just an incredible horse."

City of Troy came in for a lot of criticism after the champion two-year-old in 2023 totally fluffed his lines in the Guineas, trailing in ninth of 11.

O'Brien though as he had done last year with Auguste Rodin stuck by his conviction that City of Troy still had all the attributes to add his name to the illustrious roll call of Derby winners.

"Ryan (Moore) gave him an incredible ride," said O'Brien, before in typically modest fashion reeling off a long list of names of people involved in City of Troy's preparation.

- The 'genius' of O'Brien -

When he had caught his breath, he said: "We knew the Guineas went totally wrong, I made mistakes training him and that's the bottom line.

"There are stones that I didn't look under. He was too fresh, was unprepared and that was the reality of it.

"I knew the ability he had but he was too fresh going into the Guineas. Since then, everything has been beautiful. The cruising speed that he has, and the ability he has, just an incredible horse."

Drawn unfavourably on the inside rail in stall one Moore bided his time on the favourite as the 16-runner field was led by O'Brien's pacemaker Euphoric tracked by Los Angeles.

There was drama just after the start when Voyage unseated his jockey, Pat Dobbs.

Euphoric led around Tattenham Corner with Los Angeles ranging up on his outside to take the lead entering the straight.

Moore then made his move, weaving through the field on the inside to hit the front.

Ambiente Friendly emerged from the pack as his main danger but City of Troy never looked like crumbling.

"It was hard to know what would happen today but we still thought we had the best horse. It just didn't happen in the Guineas," Moore reported after partnering his fourth Derby winner.

Moore than reflected on the qualities that make 54-year-old O'Brien when of the stand out trainers of his or any generation.

"There's no one like him, it's more than just being a genius and attention to detail and dedication. There's a lot more than that.

"Everyone works in this game, but I've never known anyone that works harder than him. It's not all down to just brilliance, it's work as well, and time and effort" he said.

O'Brien's record-extending 10th Derby success came 15 years to the day that legendary six-time Derby winning Irish trainer Vincent O'Brien died.

Aidan O'Brien took over his namesake's Ballydoyle stables and backed by the might of the Coolmore breeding operation has upheld and even embellished the late O'Brien's legacy.

Michael Tabor, part of the Coolmore behemoth, said: "This means everything for today and also going forward.

"As Aidan said, City of Troy is the best we have ever had. Everything Aidan said has come true today."

Unlike O'Brien, James Fanshawe, the trainer of runner-up Ambiente Friendly, has only had a minor association with one of the iconic events that make up the British sporting year.

In his over 30-year career Fanshawe has only ever had one runner in the race before, and was understandably thrilled despite the defeat.

"He did absolutely nothing wrong. I thought coming to the two-furlong pole we had a real chance, and then obviously City Of Troy was back to his best, so we got beaten fair and square.

"No excuses, he ran a really good race and I’m delighted with him, and with the team back at home, who have done a great job," he said.