The most pleasing aspect of Adayar wining the 2021 Derby at Epsom had to be that jockey Adam Kirby was the man in the saddle.
I’ve always liked the jockey and felt sorry for him last week when connections of John Leeper decided to hire Frankie Dettori to ride that contender in the race, having previously booked Kirby for the ride. Kirby, one of those jockeys who has too often been underrated and overlooked, was quickly booked to ride the third string Godolphin owned horse, Adayar. Trainer Charlie Appleby rang Kirby to offer him the ride.
The rest, as they say, is history. Kirby rode Adayar positively, spotted a gap on the rail and horse and jockey won the race by four and a half lengths. His first post race comments were about his mother, saying: “Weirdly I was thinking about my mum the last furlong. She’d be watching and she’d be proud. I always said I’d rather win a Derby than be champion jockey.”
Kirby went on to pay tribute to Appleby, the connections of the winning horse and another trainer, Clive Cox, who has for so long supported Kirby in his career. He refused to be critical of those who had let him down earlier in the week.
It was great to see other jockeys cheer him back into the weighing room. His victory was clearly a popular one with those who know the man and many of his colleagues. He was wildly applauded in the winners’ enclosure.
Frankie Dettori, beaten 20 lengths on the unfancied by me John Leeper, said: “Adam gave Adayar a fantastic ride – and the further they were going, the further away Adam was going. It was great to see his big smile, and I thought his interview was amazing… it nearly had me in tears.”
Here is Lydia Hislop’s post race interview with Adam Kirby.