The day Basil trotted on air

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 12:00am

Of all the big-race triumphs, the 1997 Hong Kong Derby stands out as the defining moment for Basil Marcus.

The seven-time champion scored by 1.25 lengths on the Ivan Allan-trained, Larry Yung Chi-kin-owned Oriental Express, beating favourite Victory Star in the process.

Reflecting on his 10 years at the top, Marcus said yesterday: 'Winning the Derby on Oriental Express is the greatest feeling I've ever had in horse racing - anywhere.

'I just didn't know you could trot back from a race feeling that good. To me it felt like we trotted back on air. It was unbelievable. Something I will never, ever forget.' Oriental Express had been bought specifically from Peter Chapple-Hyam's yard in England to do the job in the Derby and on the day of the big race Marcus always had him near the pace.

Marcus pressed the accelerator and sent him to the front some 300 metres from home and from there they were never going to be caught despite Mick Kinane's strong burst on the David Oughton-trained Victory Star.