It was business as usual for perennial champion trainer Aidan O’Brien as Anthony Van Dyck gave him a record-equalling seventh victory in the Group 1 Investec Derby (2400m) at Epsom on Saturday.
Having seen his dreams of completing a clean sweep of British Classics this season ended following the narrow defeat of Pink Dogwood in the Oaks on Friday, the Irish conditioner came out on top a day later in the race he values above all else on the calendar.
Victory for the $7.50 chance, one of seven runners for O’Brien, looked unlikely at one stage, with jockey Seamie Heffernan on and off the bridle, but he warmed to the task to get up on the rail to defeat the gallant Madhmoon by half a length. “We never thought we would be in the position we are in now and that is why we kind of have to pinch ourselves every day – that we are working with the best people and with the most incredible horses with unbelievable pedigrees and physiques and in an incredibly facility,” O’Brien said. “All the big races, we train the horses for them and we do our best. Sometimes there is a lot of stuff you can’t control and sometimes the ducks just fall right for you in a row and it happens.”
Anthony Van Dyck is by Galileo out of the Exceed and Excel mare Believe‘N’Succeed, making him a half-brother to former star Kiwi mare Bounding. Carrying the white and orange colours of Tirau owner Gary Harding, Bounding won eight races including the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) – the first three-year-old filly to win the Ellerslie sprint feature in more than three decades. The daughter of Lonhro won five other stakes races including the Group 3 Heath Stakes (1100m) in Melbourne and was voted New Zealand’s champion sprinter in 2013-14. She was trained by Ken and Bev Kelso in the New Zealand stage of her career, then by Peter and Paul Snowden in Australia.
Harding paid A$425,000 for Bounding as a yearling and she returned him more than $650,000 in prize-money, then sold her for A$1.9 million to major American breeders Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. Bounding’s dam, meanwhile, was bought by Coolmore’s Tom Magnier for A$1.1 million, and Anthony Van Dyck was her first northern hemisphere foal.