Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Douglas Macarthur, prominent for such a long way in the colours of Markus Jooste in Saturday’s Investec Derby, could join SA’s stallion ranks at the end of his career.

That was the word from Jooste after the son of Galileo gave the Steinhoff boss one of his biggest racing thrills to date, when his familiar green and yellow star colours were proudly to the fore in the world’s most famous horse race.

"One would think he is good enough to win a grade1 race here and — if he did so — then he’d be a wonderful addition to our stallions back home."

The Steinhoff boss nearly won the race with another runner, Cliffs Of Moher, who he owns in partnership with the Coolmore team. With 200m to run, Ryan Moore’s mount looked likely to land the £931,537 first prize but was overhauled close to home by his 40-1 stablemate, Wings Of Eagles.

It was the best result in years for the bookies with gambles on Cracksman (Frankie Dettori), Cliffs of Mohir, Permian and Eminent all failing and most punters leaving the meeting with empty pockets.

Dettori had won Friday’s Investec Oaks on Enable to get the two-day festival off to a sensational start as the race was run following a thunderstorm and in torrential rain.

"It wasn’t nice out there — the horses got scared by the thunder. Even I got scared. When it rains so quickly the visibility becomes very bad and the reins start slipping. You try to be extra cautious and give yourself an extra yard," Dettori said. "In the last furlong, the conditions were so bad I daren’t take my hands off the reins to celebrate — I thought just get the job done."

Enable beat the O’Brien-trained favourite, Rhododendron, who might have been affected by some drama earlier in the day when there was a refuelling mishap with the aircraft the horses were being transported on from Ireland. What should have been a simple journey across the Irish sea ended up a 10-hour slog.

Happily the weather had improved 24 hours later and another milestone was reached with a record crowd and Investec CEO Bernard Kantor could not hide his excitement.

"What we’ve achieved in our nine years backing this race is simply incredible — at the outset the crowd was about 37,000 and now it’s in the region of 140,000," he said.

Investec has extended their sponsorship of the race until 2026 and Kantor’s message is simple: "It’s onwards and upwards from here."

The decision to have the famous "Hill" taken over by the Steinhoff-owned retail store, Poundland, caused some controversy when it was announced, but Jooste felt the venture had been a success "and we’ll be striving to make it even more popular next year".

The Derby provided Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien with his sixth winner of this classic race. It is a phenomenal record although there was no hiding the surprise on his face as his rank outsider, Wings Of Eagles, with Padraig Beggy in the saddle, was led into the winner’s enclosure.

O’Brien’s previous Derby winners were Galileo (Mick Kinane) in 2001, High Chapparal (Johnny Murtagh) in 2002, Camelot (Joseph O’Brien) in 2012), Ruler Of The World (Ryan Moore) in 2013 and Australia (Joseph O’Brien) in 2014.

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