Gandalf became only the fourth Derby winner to win the Diamonds International\Crown of Light Stakes and Trophy as a three-year-old when he defeated the top class horses on Wednesday’s Boxing Day card.
Don Juan, who had won the Derby in 1987, went on to win on Boxing Day that same year when the event was sponsored by Heineken.
Areutalkintome and Knight Rider who won the Derby in 2009 and 2013 respectively, also closed off the year defeating the top class horses on the last race day of the year as three-year-olds.
What makes Gandalf special, however, was that he defeated the top class imports last month in the John B Simpson Classic and has now added the Diamonds Stakes, to giving him a perfect two-from-two against the top class horses.
From the start, Rickey Walcott broke the son of Rocamadour like a bullet but they were quickly joined by Campaigners Gold. The Victor Cheeseman runner, the half-brother to 2015 Massy United Derby winner, Poetic License, had cut out early fractions of 25.2 seconds for the quarter, 48.2 for the half and 112.4 before stopping the clock in a blistering 134.4 — equalling the fastest 7.8 time for 2018 set by stablemate Northern Star in the Aston Martin Handicap on May 26.
Gandalf had also equalled Northern Star’s time of 2:07 when he won the Derby this year.
Celestial Storm, the 2018 Sandy Lane Spa Sprint winner, showed a tremendous turn of foot to tackle Gandalf but the top class local-bred fought back on to win by a neck.
The Roger Parravicino four-year-old imported filly may have sealed the deal for Champion imported award with her Grade 1 win in the Sandy Lane Spa Sprint, a third in the John B Simpson Classic on November 24th and now a second place in the Diamonds International\Crown of Light Stakes and Trophy.
The Sir David Seale-owned, No Not Again, ran a nice race to finish third and now has two stakes places to his name after finishing fourth to Celestial Storm in the Sandy Lane Spa Sprint.
The Richard Deane-trained Refire, meanwhile, had a sequence of second place finishes for this year broken when he finished a respectable fourth.
Owners of Gandalf, Bills Inc, have had a successful year dominating with both Gandalf and their other charge, Brave Star, and will be making plans for the 2019 Sandy Lane Gold Cup as race fans await anxiously.
Cheeseman closed off 2018 as a champion trainer for a record sixth straight year, equaling the record of William “Bill” Marshall who was a champion trainer from 1991 to 1996.
The champion trainer won two of the three stakes races on the card by taking the Nursery Trophy race three with Marie Aurore, defeating hot favourite Good Vibration.
Cheeseman also won race two with Sky Boy before closing 2018 with success with Quality Star in the last race of the year.
Jockey Rasheed Hughes retained his crown despite going winless on the day’s card.
Races continue on January 5.