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'I got a little bit of a freebie' says Derby winner McNamara

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Emmet McNamara

Emmet McNamara

REUTERS

Emmet McNamara

A derby run in bizarre circumstances produced a suitably extraordinary result Saturday, as the first three horses after a furlong and a half filled the same positions at the line a couple of minutes later, while the riders on their 13 opponents sat back and allowed them to get on with it.

Serpentine, at 25-1, was clear of the field rounding Tattenham Corner and comfortably held his advantage to win by five and a half lengths from Khalifa Sat (50-1) and Amhran Na Bhfiann (66-1), a trifecta that paid out at 56,000-1 on the Tote.

There were no spectators at Epsom to see it but it was the kind of race, and result, that would have played out in near silence even with the normal complement of 100,000 punters on the Downs.

It was clear from a quarter of a mile out that Serpentine and Emmet McNamara had stolen the race from the front, seven days after the colt had managed to bring up his first win - in only his third outing - at the Curragh.

Kameko, the 2,000 Guineas winner and 5-2 favourite, was fourth after sitting in much the same position throughout, while Frankie Dettori and English King, sent off at 100-30 from a tricky draw in stall one, finished strongly into fifth from well off the pace.

Never mind spectators, McNamara scarcely heard another horse on the way to his first winner since October.

"I got a little bit of a freebie," he said, showing a considerable gift for understatement. "All I could hear was the horse breathing. He was in a good rhythm, he was relaxed and I couldn't hear a thing around me.

"I didn't want to be looking … but I knew I was a few [lengths] clear. It's a bit surreal, I can't believe it."

McNamara was Ireland's champion apprentice in 2008 but his opportunities have been more limited in recent times and Serpentine was his ninth mount of 2020.

Serpentine was one of six runners in the race trained by Aidan O'Brien, who has now taken sole ownership of the record for the most Derby wins by a trainer with eight, which were ridden by seven different jockeys.

O'Brien's approach to the Derby means that only three of his winners have started as favourite, while Serpentine now joins Wings Of Eagles, at 40-1, as one of the biggest outsiders to win in recent years.

His true merit will become apparent only when this form is put to a serious test, possibly in the St Leger at Doncaster in September or perhaps in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a few weeks later.