Jockey for all weathers, Kirby savours victory in the Derby sun

Epsom (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Adam Kirby basked in the greatest success of his career winning the Epsom Derby and said now his children would not be able to refer to him as just an "all-weather jockey."

The 32-year-old rode an impeccable race on trainer Charlie Appleby's outsider of his three runners Adayar to win the blue riband of flat racing by 4 1/2 lengths.

Victory was even sweeter as Kirby had suffered the blow of being told he had lost the ride on the fancied John Leeper to superstar Frankie Dettori on Wednesday.

However, he was to be given the ride on Adayar by Appleby once he told him he was available even though two-time champion jockey Oisin Murphy had been booked.

Kirby and Appleby go back a long way with the former riding over 100 winners for him so the trainer out of loyalty gave him the ride.

Appleby had offered him the ride earlier but Kirby had already committed to riding John Leeper.

Thus it was Murphy who had to sit forlornly in the jockey's changing room as Kirby raced to victory in front of around 4,000 spectators under beating sun at Epsom.

Kirby has recorded notable successes at Royal Ascot in the past, though for many he was regarded as a journeyman jockey and labelled with the 'all-weather' tag.

All-weather -- as opposed to turf -- surfaces are raced on throughout the year but with significantly lesser quality horses and prize-money.

"I can't thank Charlie Appleby enough; his loyalty is unbelievable," said Kirby at his press conference.

"He's a real man's man.

"To be able to ride class horses when you're just a sort of run-of-the-mill jockey and you get a chance on the big day to deliver -- it's a marvellous feeling.

"I hope my kids are watching, and at least they know when they call Daddy an all-weather jockey, he's not an all-weather jockey."

"Being described as an all-weather jockey has never really bothered me, but it does on days like today, but now they can all keep their opinions," he said.

"I'm good on the all-weather because I ride on the all-weather, and I get horses with chances on the all-weather."

- 'Calm and relaxed' -

Kirby admitted it had not gone down well initially when he first got the call from John Leeper's trainer Ed Dunlop telling him he would have to give way to Dettori.

"You wouldn't have wanted to be around me for the first hour of that night, but then I got over it.

"It's worked out great that I lost the ride!"

Kirby also paid tribute to another trainer he had ridden for, the late Walter Swinburn, who was known as 'The Choirboy' in his riding days and won three Derbies.

The most notable was on the ill-fated Shergar in 1981 -- still probably the most devastating Derby victory of them all.

Swinburn died aged 55 in 2016 following an accident.

"He was a top man and a very sad loss," said Kirby.

"He taught me great things as well and taught me always to be very cool and calm and relaxed about things -- I wouldn't say that's come out in me today."

Kirby had taken his time emerging for the victory ceremony as he tried to make sense of what he had achieved.

"I just wanted to have five minutes to take it in and drink some juice," he said.

"Mad, crazy -- what goes around comes around."