WATCH: Limerick jockey celebrates 'unbelievable' Epsom Derby success

Colm Kinsella

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Colm Kinsella

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Limerick jockey celebrates stunning Epsom Derby success

Limerick jockey Emmet McNamara enjoyed a famous Investec Epsom Derby success this Saturday

LIMERICK jockey Emmet McNamara scored the biggest win of his riding career when claiming a stunning first Epsom Derby success this Saturday afternoon.

Thirty year-old McNamara, son of Rathkeale-based trainer Eric and Paula McNamara, scored a thrilling front running Classic success on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Serpentine. 

The stg£500,000 Investec Derby is the most valuable race in Britain and the most prestigious of flat racing's five Classics. 

McNamara produced a bold front-running ride to score a famous win in the famed Classic.

Serpentine and highly rated horseman McNamara had built up a huge advantage by Tattenham Corner, and the exciting colt was not for stopping, galloping all the way to the line for a thrilling five-and-a-half-length success.

Winning trainer O'Brien claimed a record-breaking eighth Derby success, as the winner obliged at odds of 25-1. 

After the race winning jockey Emmet McNamara said: "It feels surreal, really. I can't believe it. I hope Eric Mc (his dad) is ok at home, that he hasn't died of a heart attack or anything!

"It's unbelievable. Just a huge amount of thanks and gratitude to Aidan O'Brien and all his family. I have spent a fantastic six years there and to all the owners who showed a bit of faith in me today. 

"I really appreciate it, huge."

"I think I got a little bit of a freebie. I Had a huge amount of confidence in the horse having spoken to Aidan (O'Brien) during the week. He filled me with confidence.

"Aidan said he was a horse that was going to stay a mile and six furlongs. He said, jump, go your own tempo and just, from half way after you've given him a breather from the six (furlong pole) to the five, you keep building to that winning post, he will keep going. God, he was right.

"I couldn't hear a thing behind me. All I could hear was the horse breathing. He was in a good rhythm, he was relaxed and I couldn't hear a thing around me.

"I don't really want to be looking, so I wasn't aware, but I knew I was a few clear."
 
In-form jockey Emmet finished runner-up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh last wekeend as his mount Tiger Moth, again trained by Aidan O'Brien, had to give way to stable mate Santiago in a thrilling finish to the Irish Classic.

Emmet McNamara is a key member of O'Brien's backroom team at Coolmore.

McNamara will look to score a second big race success in 24 hours when he rides Fort Myers in the Prix du Jockey Club, the French Derby, on tomorrow, Sunday.

The Derby and the Oaks - two of British racing's five flat Classics - are taking place behind closed doors and on the same day for the first time this Saturday at Epsom.

2008 Champion Apprentice jockey Emmet McNamara rode his first winner on the racecourse a year earlier when partnering Prince Livius to victory at Tipperary for trainer Tom Hogan.

In common with so many top Irish jockeys, Emmet cut his teeth on the pony racing circuit where he was the champion rider for two years running. In his final season as a pony rider, he eclipsed Norman Williamson's long-standing record by riding 65 winners.

His most notable wins on the racecourse include prior to his Epsom success came when riding the Aidan O'Brien-trained Port Douglas to victory in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in 2015. McNamara also won the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes on the O'Brien-trained Douglas Macarthur in 2017

The Epsom Derby traditionally takes place on the first Saturday in June, but it was moved this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure it could be held safely.