IT was always going to be quiet at Epsom.
But no one could have anticipated the silence that greeted Serpentine, the unlikely winner of the Investec Derby.
The unconsidered 25-1 shot was on pacemaking duties under Emmet McNamara for Aidan O’Brien, or so everyone thought.
But those in behind – the likes of English King and Kameko – ignored him at their peril.
McNamara – remarkably winning his first race since October – didn’t hear, nor see another rival as he glided over the Epsom Downs.
The Irishman had clearly been saving his next win for the big stage.
With Khalifa Sat runner-up at 50-1 and Amhran Na Bhfiann third at 66s, it will go down as a Derby for the ages.
It meant O’Brien went into the record books as the winning-most trainer in Derby history with a horse he may have forgotten was on the plane across from Ireland.
An eighth win in the Classic followed Love’s mesmerizing win in the Oaks earlier in the day.
And it was O’Brien’s instructions before the race that inspired McNamara to believe he had a genuine chance on Serpentine.
👀 Anyone on the winner of the Derby?
A stunned silence greets Serpentine as he wins the big one at 25-1…
McNamara, who will have to quarantine for 14 days on return to Ireland, joked: “Nevermind 14 days, I’d quarantine for 14 months after that!”
The 30-year-old is an important cog in the Ballydoyle operation, riding out the stars on a daily basis, but does not get the publicity of Seamie Heffernan and Ryan Moore.
He said: “I never thought I’d be sitting here, but Aidan O’Brien filled me with confidence before I went out.
“He told me if we got things right, he is one horse that could well win the Derby. And I believed him, when that man tells you something, you listen.
“I thought I had an easy lead. I didn’t look around, but I couldn’t hear a thing and I knew I wasn’t going a million miles an hour.
“He stayed very well. It was very surreal, I thought I was just going to wake up and it was just a piece of work or something.”
O’Brien who could not be at Epsom due to travel restrictions spoke again via Zoom from his office where he watched on.
He said: “He won a maiden very well last time, he went through the line very strongly and to do that you have to be very good and have class.
“He wasn’t stopping there. To be fair to Donnacha [O’Brien] he said about six out that Emmet was going to win!”
Connections will likely work back from a shot at the St Leger next. Bookies made him a general 6-1 chance for the Doncaster showpiece.