Best mates Buick, Doyle turn Derby foes

Godolphin riders square off in Britain’s richest horse race

Dubai lads: William Buick (left) will be riding Nations Pride while Walk Of Stars will be the mount of James Doyle. — KT file
Dubai lads: William Buick (left) will be riding Nations Pride while Walk Of Stars will be the mount of James Doyle. — KT file

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sat 4 Jun 2022, 12:11 AM

Being key players of the same team for the past eight years William Buick and James Doyle have forged a strong bond based on a mutual respect for each other’s skills.

However, the two Godolphin pilots must choose between friendship and competition when they compete in Saturday’s Epsom Derby, the richest and most prestigious racing in Britain.

Buick, 33, is seeking a second success in the £1.5m (Dhs 6.8m) contest following Masar in 2018 while Doyle, 34, chases a first victory.

However, there is a deeper meaning to winning the race for Doyle, who has set his heart on attempting to become the first jockey in history to win all the five British Classics in the same calendar year. The Cambridge-born talent, who has already bagged both the English 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas with Coroebus and Cachet, takes the ride on the Walk Of Stars, one of three runners representing dual-Derby winning handler Charlie Appleby.

Buick teams up with Nations Pride, Godolphin’s principal hope, while Adam Kerby, who won the Epsom Classic twelve months ago with Adayar, takes the ride on Nahanni.

The Appleby trio takes on 14 rivals headed by Dante Stakes (G1) scorer Desert Crown, owned by Dubai businessman Saeed Suhail, who saw his colours carried to victory in the race in 2003.

The early favourite is trained by five-time Derby winner Sir Michael Stoute and will be ridden by Richard Kingscote, who is looking for a maiden success in the contest which is a unique test for both horse and rider. Decorated Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who on Friday scored a record 41st British Classic victory when Tuesday won the Epsom Oaks (G1), saddles Stone Age, while Frankie Dettori, who at 51, is still regarded as one of the most feared opponents in a race, rides Piz Badile for O’Brien’s 23-year-old trainer son, Donnacha.

Assessing the chances of his runners, Appleby said: “We have three nice horses with slightly different profiles. If they can turn up fit and well, they won’t look out of place.”

Nations Pride will bid to showcase experience as a factor in winning the Derby. Masar was having his ninth start when winning and Adayar his fifth, the same number of races that the son of Darley stallion Teofilo has had.

Meanwhile, Hukum provided Shadwell Racing, created by the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a first-ever success in the Coronation Cup (G1), a race that was established in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.

It was also a landmark first Group 1 victory for Owen Burrows, who trains privately for the Shadwell operation.

“He’s been a wonderful horse for me,” Burrows told ITV Racing. “I’m thrilled he’s done it, for myself and everyone back home. It’s been a tough 12 months but I’m thrilled for everyone.

“It’s massive. It means a lot to do it for Shadwell and Sheikh Hamdan’s family.”

Hukum, who effortlessly saw off some serious rivals including last year’s winner Pyledriver, is expected to head to the Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

Burrows, who was struggling to control his emotions, hinted that an ambitious international campaign which could include visits to France, Germany, and Canada, awaits the five-year-old Hukum.

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