The Epsom Derby is rapidly approaching and we've been taking a look at the most unlikely winners of the famous Classic.
Derby winners often come from towards the top end of the market, and it is a rare occurrence to see long-odds winners of the Epsom Classic. The shortest price winner of the Derby since the turn of the century was 8/13 chance Camelot, trained by Aidan O’Brien, while the biggest price was 7/1 shot Sindaar, trained by John Oxx.
We take a look at some other bigger-priced winners of the Classic in recent times.
Perhaps one of the most famous of all Derby renewals, Sharastani was sent off 11/2 against the hot-favourite Dancing Brave, in what many punters believed would represent a penalty kick for the Guy Harwood-trained horse.
A runner-up on his only 2-y-o starts, Sharastani always had the Derby as a target and trounced Bonhomie on his seasonal return at Sandown before landing the Dante Stakes and then onwards to Epsom for his clash with the previously unbeaten Dancing Brave.
Rated a doubtful stayer heading into the race, Dancing Brave was held up by Greville Starkey for a late run, and came with his challenge from the 3-furlong post. Walter Swinburn aboard Sharastani kicked for home passing the 2f pole and poached a sufficient lead that would last to the line as the fast-finishing effort of Dancing Brave came too late and wasn’t enough to collar Michael Stoute’s runner.
Many critics argue that Greville Starkey gave Dancing Brave a terrible ride by leaving him out of his ground and giving the previously unbeaten colt too much to do, and even my own father whenever he speaks of the race refers to Starkey as ‘Greville f****** Starkey’, having had a sizeable wager on the Khalid Abdullah-owned horse.
For Sharastani though, it proved he was certainly no mug and he went on to land the Irish Derby at the Curragh, but was comprehensively beaten in his rematch with Dancing Brave in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot on his next run, finishing fourth.
He occupied the same position in the Arc, before being retired to stud after.
Trained by Luca Cumani and ridden by Ray Cochrane, Kahyasi came into the race an 11/1 chance for the 14-runner race in which Geoff Wragg’s Red Glow was send off the 5/2 favourite.
Perhaps not the strongest of renewals, but Kahaysi proved a top-class winner, showing a smart turn of foot before staying on best of the runners to win by just over one length at the length from Glacial Storm and Doyoun, with the favourite eventually finishing in fourth.
Kahyasi went on to win the Irish Derby the same year when short-heading Insan before finishing runner-up to Fijar Tango in the Prix Niel, and rounded off his racing career in the Arc, where he was sixth behind Tony Bin.
COMMANDER IN CHIEF (1993)
Perhaps one of the shortest careers in racing history, Commander In Chief was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil and ridden by Mick Kinane, and was sent off 15/2 second favourite in the race which featured 16 runners. He was the lesser-fancied of Khalid Abdullah’s runners; the other, Tenby, was sent off odds-on favourite at 4/5 and was talked about as if defeat were out of the question – much like Australia is today.
Commander In Chief didn’t run at all as a 2-y-o, and made his debut in a Newmarket maiden which he won by six lengths, and followed up at the same venue in the Culford Stakes three weeks later. He then landed the Glasgow Stakes at York before heading to Epsom.
In sixth-place turning out of Tattenham Corner, Mick Kinane made his move at the 3-furlong pole and stayed on strongly up the straight to put his rivals to the sword, and although eventual second Blue Judges (150/1) finished fast, the race was over and Commander In Chief scored by three and a half lengths, with Tenby finishing well-beaten in tenth.
Commander In Chief raced twice more, beating Hernando to win the Irish Derby and then finished third behind Opera House in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes where he sustained an injury and was retired soon after.
Trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and ridden by Walter Swinburn, Lammtarra was sent off a 14/1 chance for the race which featured 15 runners, and in which French horse Pennekamp was 11/8 favourite.
It was a poignant win for Lammtarra, who until six months earlier had been trained by Alex Scott, who was killed in a shooting incident at his Newmarket stables.
A winner of his only 2-y-o start, Lammtarra made his seasonal return in the Epsom Classic, and a win looked unlikely as they turned down Tattenham Corner where she had plenty of running to do and as they passed the 2f pole, he still had the better part of ten lengths to make up on the leaders.
However, under the strongest of rides from Walter Swinburn, he gathered pace aplenty to run down her rivals and win by one length from the John Gosden –trained pair Tamure and Presenting. The race-favourite, Pennekamp, could only manage a distant eleventh-place finish.
Lammtarra would race just twice more, winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, and the Prix de L’arc de Triomphe before being retired unbeaten.
Trained by William Haggas and ridden by Michael Hills, Shaamit made a fairly inauspicious start to his racing career, only finishing fourth on his debut before winning next time out.
He wasn’t even entered in the Derby originally, but the trainer was persuaded to supplement Shaamit for the Classic after Lester Piggott rode him in work, and suggested he was a Derby horse.
An aborted attempt at a prep-race in the Dante Stakes followed, and he went straight to Epsom where he opened 12/1 in the betting behind 9/2 favourite Dushyantor. The race also featured the first Derby ride for a woman, with Alex Greaves riding 500/1 outsider Portugese Lil in the race.
Ideally positioned in sixth coming out of Tattenham Corner, Hills pulled Shaamit out off the rail and passing the 2-furlong pole he delivered a withering run that took him to the front and he stayed on to land the odds, although would have been caught in a few more strides by the favourite who was finishing strongly.
In a far from vintage Derby, that success was also his last win, with Michael Hills deserting him in favour of Pentire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes where he finished third under Pat Eddery.
Hills was reunited with Shaamit in the Irish Champion Stakes, but the duo could only finish fourth and Pat Eddery – who rode him at Ascot in the King George VI – came back in to ride in the Arc, but could only finish seventh.