The long wait for a first Investec Derby winner in the royal blue silks of Godolphin finally came to an end after Masar provided Sheikh Mohammed with the victory he has craved at Epsom.
Leaving a lacklustre effort on dirt behind in Meydan with an impressive triumph in the Craven, the Charlie Appleby-trained son of New Approach showed he had the potential to strike at the top table with a close-up third in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Despite having his stamina to prove over a mile and a half having never raced beyond an extended mile, Masar confirmed the optimism Appleby had in him getting the trip when bursting through under William Buick approaching the two-furlong marker.
Showing no signs of stopping, Masar forged on to cross the line a length and a half clear of Dee Ex Bee, with Roaring Lion half a length back in third and odds-on favourite Saxon Warrior another two and a half lengths adrift in fourth.
Appleby was winning his first Classic – just 24 hours after coming close when Wild Illusion was second in the Oaks.
He said of his 16-1 scorer: “I was quite relaxed throughout the race. On Friday I probably had more butterflies. His homework has always been very impressive since the spring.
“As a two-year-old we always felt whatever he did at two he was going to be better at three, along with stepping up in trip. His Craven was there for all to see and he couldn’t have been more impressive.
“He lost nothing in defeat in the Guineas and what we noticed in the spring this year is mentally how much settled he was and that he was becoming more of a man and professional about the game.
“Coming in today we were confident we had the horse at the best of his ability and he looked fantastic. All the gang have been hands on with him.
“What really gave me the last bit of confidence was last Saturday. I put him with two strong lead horses and he went over to the Limekilns and he went a nice mile there and was not stopping.”
He went on: “It’s still not sunk in. I’ve been with Godolphin for 20 years now. I’ve seen plenty of things come and go and fortunately when I was appointed trainer five years ago the goal was to have a Derby winner in the Godolphin blue.
“I’m just delighted to be here and part of it.”
For Buick, who has finished second in the race on two previous occasions, it was also mission accomplished.
He said: ” I was very confident this horse would stay. It was really just a case of getting him into a nice rhythm and getting him relaxed and trying to get a smooth run through.
“He jumped well and settled. He came back lovely up the hill and conserved (energy) the whole way round. He handled Tattenham Corner well enough. I pulled him out to have a good look at the track and he really came alive underneath me.
“It was just a matter of timing my run and he quickened up really well – when he did he put the race to bed.
“It’s something really special winning the Derby. It’s the pinnacle of our sport, the Holy Grail, the be all and end all and it means the absolute world to me.”
Although Sheikh Mohammed has tasted glory in many major races across the globe, including with Lammtarra under the fledgling Godolphin banner in the 1995 Derby, this success was up there with very best in his eyes.
He said: “It’s amazing to win the Derby. We have tried to win the Derby so many times and to finally win the race is very special.
“William gave him a lovely ride and horses are in my blood, so it’s very special.”
Godolphin stars Cloth Of Stars and Rare Rhythm will be bidding for G2 success in the Grand Prix de Chantilly, one of the supporting races on Prix du Jockey Club Day at Chantilly on Sunday.
Last year’s G1 Prix Ganay scorer Cloth Of Stars, trained by Andre Fabre, lines up over a mile and a half at Chantilly, having chased home Enable over the same course and distance in Europe’s top middle-distance contest at the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
The five-year-old finished third to Hawkbill in the 12-furlong G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in March and steps back up in trip after filling the same position over an extended 10 furlongs in this year’s G1 Prix Ganay at Longchamp.
Rare Rhythm drops down in distance following two excellent efforts at Meydan in March that included an impressive win in the 14-furlong G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy and a staying-on third in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup over two miles.
The lightly-raced six-year-old son of Dubawi has won on five of his nine career appearances, including decisive victories on both of his starts last year – in a 14-furlong Listed handicap at York and the Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot.
Cloth Of Stars and Rare Rhythm tackle five rivals in the Grand Prix de Chantilly headed by German G1 winner Dschingis Secret and last season’s Prix du Jockey Club runner-up Waldgeist.
Charlie Appleby said: “We feel that the drop back in trip is going to suit Rare Rhythm.
“He was very impressive when he won over a mile and six furlongs in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, but I’m not sure that he quite saw out the two miles in the Dubai Gold Cup.
“His homework has been good and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against some strong middle-distance opposition.”
With the Aidan O’Brien pair Nelson and Rostropovich defecting, a total of 12 runners are set to go to post for the 239th running of the world famous race, which is expected to be run on ‘softish’ ground at Epsom on Saturday.
Nine Derby winners have come from the 10 draw, including notables such as The Minstrel (1977), Generous (1991) and Galileo (2001).
Trainer Charlie Appleby has given an upbeat report about Masar, who he believes has the pedigree and mental toughness to cope with the frenzy and challenges of Derby Day on the Downs.
The son of Darley stallion New Approach, the 2008 Derby winner, comes to Epsom following an excellent third in the G1 2,000 Guineas on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile.
“He came out of the race well, and that Guineas form is solid. I still believe it to be the best ‘trial’ for the Derby this season, and of course, the winner Saxon Warrior is the one we all have to beat,” Appleby pointed out.
“But it’s been noted that Masar is much more mature mentally these days. The travel to America and Dubai has benefited him. He’s grown up a lot. I think he has the right mind to go to Epsom,” the trainer added.
There can be no underestimating the mental and physical stress involved for a young horse going to the Derby at Epsom, a unique track with its acute undulations and bizarre adverse camber.
“As we all know, it’s a big stage there and it can be a challenge to a lot of horses. But what I’ve seen in Masar of late is a colt who is much more grown up. He is taking all the preliminaries well,” Appleby said.
“If he conducts himself at Epsom as he did at Newmarket, it is going to be a big plus. On pedigree, he should stay, and he is now mentally where you would like a horse who is stepping up in trip to be. He’s very relaxed in his work.
“Hopefully, this will give William (Buick) every chance of settling him early and ensure he gets the trip. He’s a very well balanced horse, and he learnt plenty on those right bends at Del Mar (in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) last November,” he added.