Racegoers enjoying the Epsom Derby Festival might have suspected the big race was going to be an open one, but few expected 40-1 outsider Wings of Eagles to be first past the post.
The lack of any compelling performances in races leading up to the big day left punters casting their nets far and wide looking for a winner, but if it was going to come from the Aidan O'Brien stable it was expected to be Cliffs of Moher. Instead, the longest-odds Derby winner since 50-1 shot Snow Knight won in 1974.
Few gave jockey Padraig Beggy much chance and for much of the race he had just two horses behind him, but in the latter stages the horse produced an astonishing burst to work his way through the field and to the front in the final furlong.
By this point, it had seemed that Frankie Dettori was set for another Derby win on the 7-2 favourite Cracksman, but when he was overtaken by Ryan Moore on Cliffs of Moher, it appeared O'Brien had a winner on his hands. Little was he to realise how it would finish as the son of 2011 Derby winner Pour Moi made it an unexpected family double.
The excitement of an unlikely winner made this a particularly memorable 238th Derby and those booking corporate hospitality for Royal Ascot later this month will be hoping for another great combination of history and tradition, pageantry and top-class racing at a world-famous venue.
Commenting on the result, 31-year-old Beggy, who was riding in the race for the first time, said: "I dreamed of winning the Derby when I was young. And I'd nearly given up on it.
“It doesn’t matter what price they are if you're riding for Aidan O’Brien, they all have a chance. I can't describe the feeling in words, but I'll go down in history - I'll be remembered for something at least!"
Other big results over the festival weekend included victories for Enable in the Investec Oaks, Highland Reel in the Investec Coronation Cup and Sovereign Debt in the Investec Diomed Stakes.