Epsom Downs staged its traditional Bank Holiday fixture on Monday 30th August.
An informative card was headed by the Amateurs Derby Handicap, staged over the exact same mile and a half course as The Cazoo Derby itself.
We sent Graham Clark along to speak to the winners on the day…
MAIN SECURES CATCH OF THE DAY ABOARD CAPTAIN HADDOCK IN AMATEURS’ DERBY HANDICAP
Teenage jockey Henry Main described his fairy tale victory aboard Captain Haddock in this year’s Amateurs’ Derby Handicap at Epsom Downs today as one of “best feelings he has ever had”.
The 18 year old steered the gelded son of Make Believe, who is owned by his mum and dad Claire and Charles Main in partnership with his godmother Louisa Talbot, and is trained by his auntie Heather Main, to victory in the mile and a half prize on his first ride at the track.
Despite having never ridden at the iconic Surrey course Main, who works at his auntie’s Wantage based yard, kept a calm head aboard the four year old in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd to secure the dream result.
Taking matters up from long-time leader Great Esteem approaching the final quarter of a mile the 5-1 chance found plenty out in front to defeat well backed 6-5 favourite Cemhaan by an impressive four lengths.
Main said: “I kind of felt like I was dreaming. It is the stuff of dreams. I love the horse to bits. I can’t thank my parents enough and Louisa. It is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had put it that way.
“I got him out and he got in a nice position behind Simon’s (Walker) horse (Great Esteem) and he was flat out the whole way really.
“I thought going into the straight we would be outpaced but he changed gear and he did it really well. He was pricking his ears going to the line and it is a bit of a dream really doing it on this course.
“My parents own the horse with Louisa Talbot and my auntie is the trainer so it is a family affair and it feels great.
“Not until the moment I crossed the finish line did I think I had won as I had a feeling something was going to come and get me.”
While Main can now boast a victory at Epsom Downs on his CV his next ambition involves switching codes.
He added: “My next goal is to have a first ride over jumps. I did a lot of pony racing and had 60 rides pony racing and got the bug for it then.
“That is where it all started really. It is great my dad owns the horse and he has taught me a lot. This is a bit of a fairytale.”
MORE EPSOM DOWNS SUCCESS FOR MUIR AND GRASSICK
William Muir was left “absolutely buzzing” following the length and a half victory of Firepower in the seven-furlong Stanley Wootton Handicap-a win he admitted was almost as good Pyledriver’s Group One success at the track in the Coronation Cup in June.
Muir, who trains in partnership with Chris Grassick, said of the 13-2 winner: “This means a lot and the Coronation Cup is just in front of it.
“Pyledriver is dead easy and is like driving a train and this one is not. It took every bit of thought I’ve had since starting training in 1990 to get him right and hopefully the horse can continue.
“I’m absolutely buzzing. This is the biggest feat I’ve had as he has just been a horse that has taken me time to get him to just chill out but he has now got there.
“Coming here today after Newbury I thought we are in business. The lads that ride him have done a fantastic job on him as he is so chilled out now.
“The horse has an immense amount of ability it has just been about getting his mind right.”
The Lambourn handler issued an upbeat report on stable star Pyledriver, who is being aimed at an end of year trip to Hong Kong after missing several engagements since his Epsom success through injury.
He said: “We just left him right alone but he is moving brilliantly and he is 100 per cent sound. He is just having one more trot this week then he will be re-checked next week.
“He will then be back on the road and have two weeks road work then will be back cantering. He is in great shape.”
EUSTACE OFF THE MARK AT EPSOM DOWNS
Harry Eustace was left smiling from ear-to-ear after Ancient Times (16-5) ensured his first runner at the track was a winning one when prevailing by three quarters of a length in the Racing TV Handicap.
Eustace, who took over the helm at Park Lodge Stables from his dad James this year, said: “It is very exciting. It is a track that holds a lot of history and having a winner here is fantastic.
“The race could not have gone any better really. I said to Hayley ride her own race really and get him in a rhythm and that is what he looked to do from the off really and he cruised into it nicely.
“A sharp six suits him as he won over it at Lingfield earlier in the season. He has been a bit of fun for the owners and I think he will be a bit of fun for them as a four year old.”
TON UP FOR BUICK
William Buick celebrated his 100th winner of the season in dramatic fashion after Flame Of Freedom (9-4) got up almost on the line to secure victory in the Racegoers Club Handicap at Epsom Downs today (Monday 30th August).
The Derby-winning rider reached the milestone aboard the Dragon Pulse filly in the seven-furlong contest, which was delayed after dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy was unseated aboard Canagat, who bolted on his way down to the start.
Despite appearing to be outpaced at the top of the home straight Flame Of Freedom rallied in game fashion before getting the better of a photo finish with House Of Kings by a nose.
Buick said: “It is always nice to get to 100 winner in a season and we will keep on moving on.
“The big winners are obvious but the everyday stuff is important as well.
“The season is not finished so we don’t want to be doing too much looking back but both Hurricane Lane and Adayar are horses I’m looking forward to riding again.”
On the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained winner he added: “I did think we had done enough to hold on as they went very quick up front.
“I was very happy where I was. I had a very willing partner and she really stuck her head out.”
SURPRISE OVERCOMES ALL
Plenty of things may have gone wrong for Beautiful Surprise in running, but it failed to stop the Hugo Palmer-trained Ribchester filly making her debut a winning one by a head in the British Stallion Studs EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes.
Oisin Murphy, rider, said of the 9-4 winner: “Hugo liked her and she had trained well but she didn’t like the track at all.
“She jumped the road and was very disorganised, but I think she will progress and seven is fine for the moment.
“On paper it was a good spot for her first time out and I’m pleased she went and did the job.”