June 3 (UPI) -- Upsets were the rule of the weekend in Thoroughbred racing as Anthony Van Dyck surprised in the Investec Derby, Anapurna upset the Investec Oaks, Sottsass derailed the favorite in the French Derby and Indy Champ dethroned super filly Almond Eye in the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
Read all about it while the chalk players weep.
Aidan O'Brien got his seventh Investec Derby win in Saturday's 240th renewal at Epsom Downs -- but not with one of the favorites among his seven starters. Instead, it was Anthony Van Dyck who found running room inside in the final furlong to seal the deal, giving jockey Seamie Heffernan his first win in the race.
It was four abreast 1 1/2 lengths behind Anthony Van Dyke and the stewards had a longish look at the pictures before posting Madhmoon second with the O'Brien pair of Japan and Broome finishing third and fourth. The favorite, Sir Dragonet, also saddled by O'Brien, finished fifth.
Sunday, O'Brien said Anthony Van Dyck almost certainly will contest the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh June 21, provided "the lads" at Coolmore so decide. But, O'Brien told Racing Post, "That's what we always do."
"It is a good progression for horses, it is a 3-year-old-only race and after that they have to take on older horses," he added. "It is only his second run but we will see how he comes out of the race and the lads will talk about what they want to do and we will come up with a plan."
Other than Sir Dragonet, the disappointment in the Derby was Telecaster, dispatched as the third-favorite and reporting last of the 13. The New Approach colt, supplemented to the Derby at a cost of 85,000 pounds sterling after winning the Dubai Dante Stakes a York, tired badly in the lane was eased by jockey Oisin Murphy.
Anapurna took the short way around Epsom in Friday's Group 1 Investec Oaks and held on gamely in the final furlong as Pink Dogwood mounted a relentless challenge to her outside. At the wire, it was Anapurna by a neck and another 1 1/4 lengths to Fleeting in third. Anapurna provided a first British Classic win for her sire, Frankel.
Anapurna was regarded as the lesser of trainer John Gosden's two starters with the other, Mehdaayih, the post-time favorite. Mehdaayih, however, had nothing but problems in the running of the race and reported a very unlucky seventh.
"I knew mine would stay," said winning rider Frankie Dettori. "But the only thing I was afraid of was the (lack of) experience. But it was a great run round. For a minute I couldn't get out and when I took the split she took a furlong to get going and Ryan had 3 lengths on me. But I knew she would come good."
Also on Friday at Epsom, Defoe found a way through between rivals 1 furlong out in the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup and ran through to win by 1/2 length over Kew Gardens -- another heart-wrenching defeat for Coolmore, O'Brien and Moore. Salouen finished third in the 1 1/2-miles race with well-fancied Lah Ti Dar and Old Persian reporting sixth and seventh, respectively. Andrea Atzeni rode Defoe, a 5-year-old Dalakhani gelding, for trainer Roger Varian.
Sottsass ran by the favorite, Persian King, in the final furlong of Sunday's Group 1 Qipco Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, and went on to post the upset victory by 2 lengths. Motamarris was third, a further 2 lengths in arrears of Persian King. Sottsass, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, posted his third win, first at the Group level. Persian King, trained by Andre Fabre for Godolphin, came to the race with five straight wins, most recently the Group 1 Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains, or French 2,000 Guineas.
The 10 1/2 furlongs of the Jockey Club was Persian King's first race beyond 1 mile. Sottsass won his prep for Sunday's race at 10 furlongs over the course on May 2. Cristian Demuro subbed aboard Sottsass as his regular rider, Christophe Soumillon, was committed to the Aga Khan's runner, Zarkallani. Zarkallani finished 13th of 15.
Coolmore and Aidan O'Brien ran three in the Jockey Club, with Cape of Good Hope the best result, reporting fourth. The organization still was a winner as Sottsass, sired by Siyouni, is out of the Galileo mare Starlet's Sister, making him a half brother to multiple U.S. Grade I winner Sistercharlie, the Eclipse Award winner as 2018 champion turf female.
In Sunday's Group 2 Prix de Sandringham for 3-year-old fillies at 1 mile, heavy favorite Obligate, under Pierre-Charles Boudout, was all out to win by a head over Pure Zen. Obligate, a Juddmonte Farms homebred daughter of Frankel, remains undefeated after three starts. The Sandringham was her first try at the Group level.
Godolphin got a ray of hope in the Group 2 Prix du Gros-Chine as Inns of Court, a 5-year-old son of Invincible Spirit, swept to a 2 1/2-lengths victory when cut back in distance to 5 furlongs -- his shortest trip ever. Inns of Court had been running as far as 1 mile, including an ambitious try in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile last December, where he reported ninth, 12 1/4 lengths behind Beauty Generation.
In a weekend of upsets, the biggest may have been Sunday's Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse as star filly Almond Eye, bottled up in traffic at key points in the running, fell short with a late rally, finishing third behind Indy Champ and the early leader, Aerolithe.
Indy Champ, a 4-year-old Stay Gold colt, was making his first Grade 1 start while Almond Eye had swept the three Grade 1's of the 2018 Filly Triple Crown, the Grade 1 Japan Cup against older males and the Group 1 Dubai Turf on World Cup night at Meydan.
But Indy Champ got the better of the traffic in the 1-mile Yasuda Kinen. Despite a few bumps of his own, jockey Yuichi Fukunaga found room midway down the stretch and Indy Champ responded in time to catch Aerolithe and win by a neck. Almond Eye turned in the fastest time in the final furlong but ran out of room, finishing a nose back of Aerolithe.
"He was tuned up well, was in great shape, and had a good draw," Fukunaga said, "so I just tried hard not to miss our break. He tends to get distracted when he's up front so I kept him off the pace.
After the Dubai trip, Almond Eye's connections reported her "dehydrated and leg weary" from the travel. But in the end, it was not the thousands of miles of travel but the one mile of Tokyo traffic that proved too much.
As the season winds down in Hong Kong, it's time to look ahead and Champions Way on Sunday proved something his connections can anticipate with pleasure for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series in 2019-20.
The John Size trainee landed a rare group-level blow for a 3-year-old in the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy at Sha Tin Racecourse. After tracking the pace under Joao Moreira, Champions Way fumbled the gear shift a bit in the lane but still got the job done, nipping Ka Ying Star by 1/2 length.
It was the sixth win from seven starts for Champions Way and Moreira was encouraged, if not totally pleased, with the performance.
"I thought he should have won more easily than he did," Moreira said of the solid favorite for the Lion Rock. "When I asked him to quicken, he picked up for me and felt like he was going to go on and win well. But he just snaked around again, he shifted and that cost him something.
"He still needs to learn but I'm not worried for the future. He's a young horse and he is still learning so you have to be happy with what he has done so far and it looks like he will only get better next season."