July 6 (UPI) -- Ghaiyyath held off Enable to win the Coral Eclipse on Sunday at Sandown -- a race that put the cap on a compressed weekend of Group 1 events that comprised the Investec Derby and Oaks at Epsom and the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix de Diane at Chantilly.
Serpentine stole out to a big lead in the Investec Derby and wasn't for catching, posting a huge upset victory. In the Investec Oaks on Epsom Downs, all you really needed was Love.
Mishriff and Fancy Blue did the honors at Chantilly.
First things first -- in this case, the first Derby of them all.
It was no surprise that Serpentine got off to the lead in Saturday's Investec Derby. But as the lead kept getting bigger and bigger, it suddenly became clear the Galileo colt -- a maiden winner just seven days earlier and sent off at odds of 25-1-- wasn't about stopping and the others had given him far to much rope.
With Emmet McNamara along for the ride, Serpentine nailed down the win by an easy 5 1/2 lengths with Khalifa Sat edging Amhran Na Bhfiaan for second. The favorites, Kameko and English King, were fourth and fifth.
Serpentine gave trainer Aidan O'Brien his record eighth Derby win and his sire his record fifth.
O'Brien had six of the 16 runners in the Derby, including Kameko and Amhran Na Bhfiaan, but neither he nor McNamara seemed too surprised that two of his longer chances finished in the top three.
"We try to give every horse their best chance to win and we ride them accordingly," O'Brien told the media via Zoom from his base in Ireland. "It was exactly the way we planned."
McNamara said with his huge lead, he couldn't hear the other horses and, with no spectators allowed at Epsom, the silence was "surreal."
"I never looked behind me. I couldn't hear a thing," he said. "All I could hear was my horse breathing and he was in a very good rhythm."
McNamara answered frankly, "No," when asked if he expected to win the race. But, he quickly added, O'Brien "had a huge amount of confidence in the horse. It wasn't a complete surprise."
Ed Walker, trainer of English King, said the way the race played out was "frustrating, purely and simply. A Derby with no pace -- there is no such thing these days, really -- and we needed pace."
Serpentine, produced by the Danehill Dancer mare Remember When, was having just his fourth start. He won for the first time June 27 in a maiden event at the Curragh in Ireland.
O'Brien said the colt is a proper stayer and did not rule out a try in the Group 1 St Leger or even the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, though he did say he would not want Serpentine "going deep into the heavy ground" often typifying the going in the French fixture.
O'Brien also said the Coolmore lads, Serpentine's owners, are eyeing a shot at the Group 1 Japan Cup in Tokyo on November, though more likely with one of their 4-year-olds. He mentioned, without a trace of irony, Japan might be a chance for the Japan Cup.
The Serpentine is a lake in London's Hyde Park, created for Queen Caroline in 1730 -- 50 years before the first Derby. Google translates Amhran Na Bhfiaan from Irish Gaelic to "Song of the Beasts."
Love simply ran away from the opposition in the final furlong of Saturday's Group 1 Investec Oaks, answering all the questions while giving O'Brien his eighth win in the race and Jockey Ryan Moore his third.
The Galileo filly was held up behind a breakaway pair through a mile and more of the 1 1/2-miles test, then saw stablemate Ennistyman get first crack at the lead just outside the 2-furlongs mark.
But once Moore got Love into stride, the race quickly was over as Love strode out to win by 9 lengths. Ennistyman, another Galileo filly, held off second-favorite Frankly Darling and Frankie Dettori to finish second.
"She's very special," Moore said. "Today she took another step forward. She loved the trip."
Love was a Group 1 winner as a 2-year-old and in her only previous start this season was an impressive winner in the Qipco 1000 Guineas.
If the form of the Guineas needed any franking, it came in the race after the Oaks as Summer Romance, a Godolphin-owned daughter of Kingman, led the way and won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She was eighth in the Guineas. Cloak of Spirits, second in the Guineas, was second again.
Prix du Jockey Club
Mishriff finished strongly to land Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, at Chantilly, getting by long shot The Summit in the late going to win by 1 3/4 lengths.
The favorite, Victor Ludorum, was another neck in arrears with a wide, late run after getting out of the stalls slowly. The vicory was hard-won as Mishriff had nowhere to go with some 200 meters to run and had to swing out sharply to find a lane.
"When he picked up, he had it won in two strides," Racing Post quoted winning rider Ioritz Mendizabal as saying.
Mishriff, trained by John Gosden for Prince Faisal, scored his third win from six starts while making his first run in a Group 1 event.
The Irish-bred Make Believe colt also was second in the Saudi Derby Feb. 29 against a tough international field. He automatically becomes a candidate for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, though Prix du Jockey Club winners have a dismal record in that race in the recent past.
Prix du Diane
Fancy Blue seized a narrow lead with a bit more than a furlong to run in Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Diane, or French Oaks, and battled on the rest of the way to win by a short neck in a tight, four-filly finish.
The favorite, Alpine Blue, led early and kept running to finish second, a head in front of Peaceful. Raabihah was third, only another head back.
Fancy Blue, a daughter of the late Japanese star stallion Deep Impact, won for the third time in four starts. Her only loss was a second to Peaceful in the Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas. Donnacha O'Brien trains Fancy Blue while his father, Aidan, conditions Peaceful.
The elder O'Brien detoured Peaceful from the Investec Oaks to the French Classic in part because of the much more generous purse structure. She earned about $72,500 for her third-place finish whilst Love took home a little more than $175,000 for winning the Oaks.
Ghaiyyath confirmed in Sunday's Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown he's among the world's top runners, leading from the early strides and then holding off two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Enable by 2 1/4 lengths at the end.
The victory came on the back of a thrashing of 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck and ace stayer Stradivarius in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Newmarket last month.
The finish of the Coral-Eclipse doesn't necessarily tell the full story, though, as Ghaiyyath came to Sandown with two victories under his girth since finishing 10th in last year's Arc while Enable had not raced since her heartbreaking second to Waldgeist nine months ago.
Trainer John Gosden indicated before the race Enable might not be fully cranked up as she started a quest for a third win in the Arc.
He also declined to specify her weight before the race, saying, according to Racing Post, "When a famous woman, Dorothy Parker I believe, was asked her age, she said: 'My age is just a number and it's not listed.'"
Still, the back-to-back wins by Ghaiyyath make a statement -- one not lost on Charlie Appleby, who trains the 5-year-old son of Dubawi for Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin.
"He's the finished article now," Appleby said. "The one thing we learned from Dubai this winter is that he's been taking his racing better and it was the same after the Coronation. This was a success this horse is entitled to have based on what we've seen in the past. I'm very pleased for him."
Japan was third, a head back of Enable, in the Coral-Eclipse for with Moore up for Aidan O'Brien -- a significant step forward for the 4-year-old son of Galileo in light of the trainer's hints he could be considered for the Japan Cup in November.
He was fourth in last year's Arc. After Japan, the order of finish in the Coral-Eclipse was Magic Wand, Deirdre, Regal Reality and Bangkok.
Ghaiyyath and Enable will part company in the near future but another showdown in October in France could be in the cards.
"Our plan was to work back from another crack at the Arc," Appleby said. "And if Enable's there, then we'll take her on again."