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THE DERBY | Did ‘Musical Chairs’ set up further drama at Epsom?

Several jockey changes in Saturday’s Classic created more anticipation for the Derby at Epsom



Adam Kirby and Adayar Epsom
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This time last Tuesday, Adam Kirby was looking forward to partnering fancied runner John Leeper in the Derby on the weekend.

The 32-year-old jockey had only previously had one Derby ride back in 2017, onboard Saeed bin Suroor’s Dubai Thunder who finished down the field in 11th and never raced again.

Adam Kirby
Adam Kirby was originally booked to ride John Leeper in the Epsom Derby

He had broadcast his excitement to be competing in the Epsom Classic, but the rug would be pulled from under his feet on Thursday morning following the declarations.

The shock withdrawal of Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition caused a domino effect among the jockey bookings, with Frankie Dettori now without a ride.

Trainer Ed Dunlop then decided to side with the three-time Champion Jockey to ride the fancied John Leeper, leaving Kirby without a ride.

It’s not the first time Dettori has been involved in Derby bookings drama, as he was picked to ride last year’s second favourite English King in favour of regular jockey Tom Marquand.

But Marquand had the last laugh as he rode outsider Khalifa Sat to second in the contest, while English King finished fifth.

There was another twist in this season’s preparations for the Derby, as Charlie Appleby pounced on the chance to snatch up Kirby.

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He was booked in to ride interesting prospect Adayar, who was a 50/1 chance following the declarations.

It meant that Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy was now without a ride for the Classic contest.

Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy missed out on a ride in the Derby

But Kirby made the most of his opportunity on the Downs, delivering arguably his finest performance in the saddle.

Adayar was backed into 16/1 on the day, as Appleby’s third-string caused an upset and stormed down the home straight to win by four and a half lengths.


It could be stated that High Definition’s withdrawal put Kirby on the path of victory, but the jockey’s work rate should not be discredited either.

There was clear elation for the 32-year-old’s success on Saturday, including from Murphy who was one of the first to congratulate Kirby after the race.

There aren’t many fairytale stories that come true, but Adayar’s victory in the Derby is one of the very few that have.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.