SUNDAY TIMES, 24 July 2021
Power can be a problem. But put it in the shape of the huge and handsome Derby winner Adayar, have it harnessed by the silky skills of multi-lingual William Buick, than let it loose up the Ascot straight and you have a thing of awesome beauty.
Adayar had been impressive enough at Epsom, but this was where he had to prove himself against his elders. No Derby winner has followed up in Ascot’s showpiece King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes since the Aidan O’Brien trained Galileo held off the Godolphin star Fantastic Light back in 2011. Only in racing can you get such a neat generational switch as O’Brien now fielding Galileo’s daughter Love as favourite against a Godolphin hopeful in Adayar who as a son of Frankel has that same Galileo as his grandsire.
But when the gates slam open, it is tactics not bloodlines that matter and straightway there was trouble. With Love’s stable companion and expected leader Broome missing his kick, it was left to Frankie Dettori to set such a steady gallop on Lone Eagle that outside him William Buick found himself poised above something close to a runaway train. Adayar could see daylight and wanted to punch it. This was power as a problem.
As a teenager William Buick was such a titch that it was not until he was 18 that his mentor Andrew Balding allowed him his first ride on the appropriately names Tiny Tim. But he was champion apprentice in the next two seasons and already with the reputation for settling the tearaway. He may have grown to five foot six and eight and a half stone, but that is no match for half a ton of full throttle thoroughbred without the balance and equine intuition that get the runner to take a breath. It took nearly twenty tense and energy sapping seconds but then the deed was done. Adayar was settled behind the now leading Broome and in prime position for Ascot’s final act.
It was a crucial advantage. As Buick drove Adayar forward, David Egan swept Mishriff up from the back temporarily trapping Ryan Moore’s attempt to get Love out in pursuit. It did not do the favourite any favours but even when clear, Love never looked a real threat.
Mishriff did. For a few strides he even looked to have the legs of the leader. But the last furlong and the 11lb weight for age concession was clearly too much as Adayar stretched almost two lengths in charge at the post. It was a triumph for the Derby winner and very much also for his “pinged absent” trainer Charlie Appleby and for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation who also bred Adayar at Newmarket from a mare by their own star stallion Dubawi.
What’s more, they have in Hurricane Lane another son of Frankel whom William Buick chose to ride in the Derby in front of Adayar. He was 7 lengths back in third at Epsom but had difficulty with the cambers and lost two shoes in the process. When he subsequently won the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris so impressively many believed that William might have been right all along.
Before yesterday it had looked as if Adayar would go for the St Leger and Hurricane Lane for the Arc. Plans will have to be redrawn but what a problem for owner and trainer to have. What a situation also for the 33-year old son of a Scottish jockey and Norwegian mother who may speak many languages but clearly has horse racing as his native tongue.
He is 33 now and a long way from the little smiling chap who used to follow his Dad around when Walter became a much loved member of the press room. Yesterday there was no doubting the stars in his eyes as he said of Adayar: “He gives you the feel of endless power and it’s a privilege to ride a horse like this because they don’t come around very often.” But for William Buick they certainly do this year.