Veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast was proud of Madhmoon in defeat after his charge went down fighting in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
Prendergast – who will celebrate his 87th birthday next month – has enjoyed a glittering training career since first taking out a licence in 1963, enjoying eight Classic victories in his native Ireland and a British Classic success with Nebbiolo in the 2000 Guineas 42 years ago.
Having impressed in two starts as a juvenile, hopes were high Madhmoon could add to Prendergast’s Classic haul this season, and his staying-on effort when fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earned him a tilt at the biggest of them all.
There were doubts beforehand about whether Madhmoon’s stamina would be exposed over the extra half-mile, but after travelling strongly under Chris Hayes, he stuck to his guns admirably to finish a half-length second to Aidan O’Brien’s Anthony Van Dyck.
Prendergast said: “We’d loved to have won, but we’re very proud of the horse.
“(My heart) always pumps, but that (finish) made it pump a little bit more. He ran great, we’re happy with him.
“It was a very good ride from Chris Hayes and he did nothing wrong. The best horse won on the day.”
Angus Gold, racing manager to Madhmoon’s owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, raised the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes as potential targets for the son of New Approach.
Gold said: “He stumbled at the bottom of the hill and he (Hayes) had to go a bit earlier than he wanted to.
“I’m thrilled and if you said that was going to be the outcome I would have taken that any day.
“Whether we have to stick to a mile and half or whether we come back to a mile and quarter, let’s see. There are things like the Irish Champion, and the Irish Derby would come into it now.
“I was convinced he wouldn’t stay, so I’m delighted to be proved wrong.”
Hayes said: “I thought he was going to win at one point.
“He stumbled just after the road crossing by Tattenham Corner and that just lit him up. I was in front probably 50 yards sooner than I wanted, but the winner has won well.”
Wayne Lordan was third on the winner’s stablemate, Japan.
He said: “A little bit babyish on the track, but he got it together and came home well. I am delighted with him.”
Fifth home was favourite Sir Dragonet, of whom Ryan Moore said: “He ran a very good race for a horse of his experience. Hopefully he will come on for that.”
Hughie Morrison’s Dante winner Telecaster, like Sir Dragonet supplemented at a cost of £85,000, finished last of the 13 starters.
Morrison said: “He ran flat. He has had three quick races in the spring and it has just caught up with him.”
His rider Oisin Murphy added: “He ran flat. He did everything right before and during the race, he just ran a bit flat.”
A post-race veterinary examination of the New Approach colt failed to reveal any abnormalities, and his trainer’s explanation that he ran flat was noted by the stewards.