- Sire-Dam -
Anthony Van Dyck was a renowned painter in the 17th century whose fame brought him a place in the court of King Charles 1, a knighthood, plus a beard being named after him!
He died at the age of 42 and was buried at St Paul’s Cathedral. He was to become the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for another century.
Anthony Van Dyck, the racehorse, clearly has plenty to live up to but he painted a pretty picture at Epsom in June when landing the Investec Derby.
The son of Galileo (the Italian astronomer was around at the same time as Anthony Van Dyck) was the most experienced of O’Brien’s seven runners in the race and made that count in a compelling contest.
Sent off at 13/2, he kept on stoutly under Seamie Heffernan to prevail by half a length in a pulsating finish from four rivals who passed the post almost as one.
Madhmoon was second, with another O’Brien quartet – Japan, Broome, Sir Dragonet and Circus Maximus – the next four home.
The winning trainer joined Fred Darling, John Porter and Robert Robson as a seven-time winner of the world’s greatest Flat race.
Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014) and Wings Of Eagles (2017) had triumphed in the Derby for O’Brien before Anthony Van Dyck.
He had won the Lingfield Derby Trial on his previous start and as a two-year-old had won three times, plus been placed in the National Stakes and Dewhurst.
O’Brien said: “You don’t know what horse is going to handle the track, the preliminaries, whether they will have the stamina.
“Anthony Van Dyck is a very solid horse. He danced every dance last year and did everything we asked of him. He ran a very good trial when winning at Lingfield. He passed all the tests to be fair to him.”
Heffernan, 46, was winning the Derby at the 12th attempt.
“I had to take a hold from two down, which probably helped as it’s hard pushing the whole way down the straight.,” he said. “He’s a Galileo, so I knew that he would be with me when I needed him.
“I was happy enough to be comfortable. I was following Ryan (Moore, on favourite Sir Dragonet, who finished fifth), which I thought was the big danger, but it was a big ask for him on only his third run. My lad has danced every dance and been running up the back ends of horses over seven furlongs. I am happy.”
There is plenty of speedy on the dam’s side of Anthony Van Dyck’s pedigree but his sire’s progeny invariably stay well and he is clearly no exception.
Anthony Van Dyck then attempted to follow up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh but found Sovereign, his front-running stablemate, six lengths too strong.
The general consensus afterwards was that Sovereign, who had faded to be tenth at Epsom, had been afforded too much rope at the head of affairs.
Anthony Van Dyck then failed to figure in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, won by Enable, but ran much better on his next two starts.
He was a staying-on third to Magical in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and then filled the same position in the Breeders’ Cup Turf after meeting trouble in running in the closing stages.