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Workforce shows shades of Shergar

Ryan Moore celebrates with his mount Workforce
Ryan Moore celebrates with his mount Workforce and trainer Sir Michael Stoute

By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport at Epsom

There were shades of the great, ill-fated Shergar as Workforce bulldozed his rivals to claim a stunning seven-length victory in the 2010 Epsom Derby.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute won his first Derby back in 1981 with the lightning-fast colt who triumphed by 10 lengths and was later famously kidnapped.

"Shergar wins the Derby, and you need a telescope to see the rest," boomed BBC Radio's commentator Peter Bromley at the time.

It was a similar story, albeit 'only' seven lengths, as Workforce broke the track record and shattered the trends horse racing fans love to follow.

He was runner-up in his trial for the Derby behind Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes at York, and no horse had ever been beaten in that race and gone on to win the premier Classic.

Replay - Workforce wins 2010 Derby

But this team of Stoute, jockey Ryan Moore and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah have no time for hyperbole, records and statistics. They like to do their talking on the track.

"The thing about horses beaten in the Dante not winning here was a rubbish statistic and that didn't bother me," said Newmarket-based Stoute after his fifth Derby triumph.

"Things didn't go right for him earlier in the year because I'd wanted to give him two races beforehand and then things didn't work out at York. But that doesn't bother me now."

Workforce hung badly on that occasion at York as he encountered problems with the bit in his mouth on only his third racecourse outing.

While others questioned his experience, ability and suitability for Epsom, the Workforce team worked at getting him ready for the big race.

"Ryan got off him at York and said 'don't be disappointed because I'm not'," Stoute revealed after winning the 231st running of the mile-and-a-half race.


A preparation spin round Lingfield convinced them the strapping son of King's Best could handle the unique Epsom undulations.

Barbados-born Stoute, 64, who came to Britain in 1965, already had four Derbys in the bag after Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003) and North Light (2004) followed Shergar's scintillating triumph.

Workforce may not go on to reach the heights of Shergar, who won five times in his Classic-winning season, but has huge potential if he emerges soundly from this testing challenge.

He lopped nearly a second off the track record on the fast good to firm going, and proved the only horse capable on the day of reeling in the 100-1 pacemaker At First Sight.

Afterwards Moore suggested his mount could even improve given different conditions.

"I'd like to think he could be better with a bit more give in the ground and if he keeps progressing, he could be a really good horse," he said.

Shergar wins the Derby in 1981
Shergar strolls to an easy Derby victory at Epsom 29 years ago

The win sealed an Epsom Classic double for the 26-year-old who is pushing for his fourth champion jockey title this season.

Moore, perhaps not unlike the legendary Lester Piggott, appears to have little time for the limelight. He is happy to get the job done.

When asked for his reaction to winning his first British Classic on Snow Fairy in the Oaks on Friday, he replied: "It's not the Derby."

This was the Derby, and for a first ride in a race that can make mugs of inferior jockeys, it was a supreme effort from the rider who hails from Sussex.

"To me it's the most important race, it's a special day and it's been really nice to get a great reception from my family, friends and weighing room colleagues," said Moore.

He started out as a jump jockey with the Grand National as his aim, but the lighter weight allowed for Flat racing jockeys made him rethink his targets.

"I am particularly delighted for Ryan, who has put a lot of work into this horse," said Stoute.

"He's got a lot of natural talent and a very good racing brain and he's ambitious - it's a joy to have him around.

"The Derby is the race he most wanted to win and having done that, he'll want to win the next one."

Derby winning jockey Ryan Moore

Derby win 'special' for jockey Moore

Also thrilled was Ryan's father Gary, a former jump jockey and now successful trainer.

Gary clutched Ryan's toddler Toby, who will be two at the end of next month, and congratulated Stoute warmly by the winning line.

When I asked Moore what his father had said to him after winning the Derby, he replied: "Well done."

Workforce's owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah is a cousin of the King of Saudi Arabia. Despite extensive racing, breeding and other interests, he insists on merely being called Mr Abdullah in racecards.

No need for pomp and circumstance. Just a potent power-packed performance from a highly professional, if somewhat understated, team.

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see also
Workforce powers to Derby victory
05 Jun 10 |  Horse Racing
Derby Day photos
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Snow Fairy storms to Oaks victory
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Epsom Derby runners and riders
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St Nicholas Abbey to miss Derby
02 Jun 10 |  Horse Racing
Workforce set to tackle the Derby
26 May 10 |  Horse Racing
Hills lands spare Ted Spread ride
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BBC to show stewards' inquiries
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