Derby Festival 2020: Results and comments from the first three races

Due to disruptions to the fixture list caused by coronavirus, the Derby Festival 2020 was postponed from its usual June setting to Saturday 4th July. 

For the first time ever, the Oaks and the Derby were run on the same day, with a total of seven races overall.

The first three races were: Investec Woodcote Stakes; Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed); and Investec Handicap. Below are the results and comments from those races.

1.50pm Investec Woodcote Stakes 6f

Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Racecourse, Epsom Races, Epsom Derby

The opening contest on Investec Derby Day was the Investec Woodcote Stakes over six furlongs for two-year-olds.

Twaasol came out on top by a length and a half from Modern News. The son of Adaay maintained his unbeaten record, having scored on debut at Windsor on 16th June.

Winning trainer Owen Burrows said: “Twaasol did it well.

“He is a neat little horse who is not overly big, but he has a great mind on him. He is a good mover and I am chuffed to bits with him.

“I have not spoken to Martin yet, but it looked as if he was tapped for a bit of speed and it is obviously a speed course here.

“Before Windsor, I thought he would probably be better over seven furlongs. He is not the biggest but is a good moving, well-balanced horse.

“You have always got that worry about them handling the track. He had only had one start before today, but is a well-balanced, neat little horse and I was confident he would handle the course.

“I wouldn’t get too carried away with him just yet, but he has done nothing wrong and is one to look forward to.

“It is great to have a winner on Derby Day. It’s a little bit different of course this year, but you have just got to be grateful that we are here.”

Martin Harley said: “Twaasol was pretty impressive with what he has done out there. Fair play to Owen [Burrows], he has primed the horse up twice now. I had full confidence going out there that he would improve from his first start, which he did.

“The track wasn’t ideal but it is the same for most two-year-olds – he had only had one run. He came round the bend well and got a little unbalanced coming down the straight, but overall he was very professional.

“When I walked the track it was more of a headwind, but now it has changed to a side wind – it is moving around, for sure.

“The the track out there and the ground is absolutely beautiful. Full credit to the clerk of the course (Andrew Cooper), given the circumstances through the year, for him to produce a track like that on Derby Day is absolutely fantastic.

“I am very excited about my first ride in the Investec Derby [on Worthily]. You need people like Mr Gosden to give you a chance in races like the Oaks and the Derby. I know the horse well and rode him when he won his first start [Newbury, 11th June]. 

“Mr Gosden knows what he is doing; it is a difficult year for horses and, although I am sure he will handle the track, I would have preferred another run or two and so would Mr Gosden, but we are here to take our chance and the horse is in great form.”

1.50pm Investec Woodcote Stakes 6f

1 Twaasol Owen Burrows 2-9-05 Martin Harley 9/4 Jt Fav

2 Modern News Charlie Appleby 2-9-05 Jim Crowley 9/4 Jt Fav

3 Mutazawwed Mark Johnston 2-9-05 Jim Crowley 11/4

5 ran

Winner owned by Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum

Time: 1m 09.73s

2.25pm Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed) 7f

Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Racecourse, Epsom Races, Epsom Derby

The Listed Investec Surrey Stakes over seven furlongs saw trainer John Quinn register his 1,000th (Flat and Jump) career winner as 6/5 favourite Safe Voyage came home a length and a half clear of Vale Kent.

The seven-year-old Fast Company gelding took the lead in the final half-furlong and won a time of 1m 19.88s – a new course record, beating the record of 1m 20.15s set by Crossbow in 1972.

Winning jockey Jason Hart said: “It was a good performance from Safe Voyage. “He is a friend to me. He was never really going for any part of that race and only really got going in that last half furlong when we met that rising ground, that is where he really got motoring. I was just delighted that we met that rising ground in time.

“I think with more ease in the ground, you would see a better horse again.

“Safe Voyage is very consistent. The team at home have done a great job with the horse. Everyone has done a great job of getting him to where we have got him. This is the boss’s 1,000th winner so well done him.

“It’s nice to have a big winner on Derby Day and that was a good effort.”

Winning owner Ross Harmon said: “That was absolutely fantastic. Every single run last year was excellent, and he ran great at Ascot [when third in 2019 G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes]. I am glad he has won today and I told everybody in the world he would win today.

“The boss man at home said he goes on the Good ground, but he is even better on Soft ground. There was a nice cut and the boss man said he was fine, so it was excellent.

“It was Listed race today – we will go steady away and see if he can do the same as last year.”

2.25pm Investec Surrey Stakes (Listed) 7f

1 Safe Voyage John Quinn 7-9-05 Jason Hart 6/5 Fav

2 Vale Of Kent Mark Johnston 5-9-05 Joe Fanning 5/1

3 Shine So Bright Andrew Balding 4-9-05 Silvestre De Sousa 5/1

6 ran

Winner owned by Ross Harmon

Time: 1m 19.88s

3.00pm Investec Handicap 1m 2f

Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom Racecourse, Epsom Races, Epsom Derby

Sky Defender saw off all comers to land the 10-furlong Investec Handicap. The Mark Johnston-trained four-year-old took up the running quarter of a mile from home and was not for passing, scoring by three-quarters of length.

Mark Johnston said: “I thought his starting price was nonsensical. I think he was even 33/1 when I was looking at my phone in the paddock.

“He had a long time off and I think he has only had three defeats since his last win and one of those seconds was against West End Charmer [also trained by Johnston]. We had a lot of faith in him because we knew he was a good horse.

“He is a high-class handicapper obviously, but I don’t tend to have too many long-term plans, but just take it as he comes and hopefully we will target another one.

“It was obviously very important to get today on. Everybody knows I felt we stopped too soon and started too late.

“It is just great to have it back. We have learnt an awful lot. It is terrible for the racecourses and the owners who can’t be there with a lack of atmosphere on course, but it is teaching us what a good television product racing is.

“It is as good as ever and a big lesson that people watch racing because of the horses.”

Winning jockey Joe Fanning said: “We always liked this horse and he hasn’t run a bad race this year. Mark [Johnston] said in the paddock beforehand that he could not believe how big a price Sky Defender was, so yeah, we fancied him.

“In his race before last [at Newmarket on 7th June] Mark’s other horse, West End Charmer, won, and I thought that was a very good run [Sky Defender finished second]. It was just the draw I was worried about today, getting into it from there, but he jumped well and travelled well all the way, and was travelling well down the hill.

“Today is a bit different, but to be honest, we just go from the paddock to the track to the weighing room, so all that is missing is the crowd, really. The atmosphere is pretty similar in the weighing room to day to what it would be normally.”

Investec Handicap 1m 2f

1 Sky Defender Mark Johnston 4-9-05 Joe Fanning 22/1

2 Breath Caught Ralph Beckett 5-8-07 Harry Bentley 11/1

3 Tinandali David O’Meara 4-9-09 Jim Crowley 10/1


3/1 Fav Ironclad (10th)


13 ran

Non-Runners: Desert Icon (self certificate, not eaten up), Sherpa Trail (unsuitable ground), Wargrave (withdrawn at start)

Winner owned by Hamad Rashed Bin Ghedayer 


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Eclipse Magazine
Newsletter Signup

Racing News, What to Wear, Competitions, Features, Betting Tips and More

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. We'll bring the news to you about once a month. We NEVER share your data.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Scroll to Top