2018 Epsom Derby winner Masar has now lost both of his starts since returning to action following injury, his latest setback leaving trainer Charlie Appleby somewhat scratching his head.
Having been bumped at the start and nearly unseated rider James Doyle in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot before having to run wide, many forgave his performance in finishing fifth behind Defoe that day given that he had been off the track for over a year since his Blue Riband success.
The leg injury he suffered looks to have severely blunted his quality though, given that Appleby was very bullish before his start at odds-on in Thursday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes claiming that he’d been working as well as ever at home, giving him little in the way of excuses.
Having been well-touted before the event and having travelled nicely into it, his run completely flattened out leaving the 5/6 shot to trail home last of the six Group 2 runners.
Given that nothing new has come to light with the son of New Approach, the Godolphin camp are now wondering whether the trip more than his past injury problems are what has been to blame and so it could just be that we see Masar tried over a mile-and-a-quarter next time out.
Sadly, even in the modern era, not every horse who suffers a serious injury comes right back to form and on all known evidence so far it seems that may be the case with Masar, though his form also highlights another rather unfortunate recent Derby trend.
2017 winner Wings Of Eagles was a surprise scorer at 40/1 on the day, but suffered a slight injury of his own when favourite for the Irish equivalent, losing out in the end to fellow Aidan O’Brien horse Capri before being retired.
Three years ago Harzand took Britain’s premier classic for trainer Dermot Weld, and although he did just about manage to follow-up at the Curragh, he went on to finish 8th in the Irish Champion Stakes and only ninth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe before himself being sent to the breeding sheds.
We have to go back to Golden Horn in 2015 to find what we term a ‘proper’ Derby winner, John Gosden’s colt going on that year to take the Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes and the Arc during what was a terrific season while runner-up Jack Hobbs subsequently won the Irish Derby and the Dubai Sheema Classic.
Only this year the Derby was once again given a bad rap after the front five all finished in a heap, the winner Anthony Van Dyck since failing to follow-up in Ireland having run second to Sovereign at the Curragh.
The fact that Circus Maximus and Japan both came out at the royal meeting to score should have allayed fears that the 2019 was under-par, but yet another factor can now be put under scrutiny and that is the reliance of the entire race on sons and even more distance relatives of Galileo.
Should Galileo’s progeny continue to be a great source of Derby winners but fail to go on and take major honours elsewhere, could more owners, breeders and trainers do more to put it up to Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore team next year and beyond with sons of Dubawi, Frankel and possibly American Pharoah? We can hope.