Brigadier Gerard was sent off the 3-1 on favourite. Reingold, at 7-2, was the only horse
seriously backed to end the Brigadier’s winning sequence. Roberto was a 12-1 chance, while
Gold Rod traded at 33s.
The start was sensational. Baeza fired Roberto out of the stalls as if he had, as Brigadier
Gerard’s owner Jean Hislop said later, “been stung by a bee,” and it took Geoff Lewis on
intended pacemaker Bright Beam over a furlong to catch him. Bright Beam took over but
Roberto surged back in front with fully six furlongs left to run. Mercer, lying fourth on Brigadier Gerard entering York’s long straight, moved past Rheingold and the weakening Bright Beam. With four furlongs to go, the crowd waited for the Brigadier to make his move, confident that he would inhale Roberto inside the last quarter-mile.
However, Roberto wasn’t stopping, and he was clearly going to stay the trip because he’d
won a Derby over a mile and a half.
Mercer drew his whip with two furlongs left to run, but Roberto just kept on going and
reached the winning post three lengths ahead of Brigadier Gerard, whose unbeaten record lay
in shreds. A horse who had only managed to finish twelfth of fourteen on his previous start,
ridden by a jockey nobody had heard of, had beaten the great champion. Gold Rod finished
third and Rheingold fourth. Both Roberto and Brigadier Gerard beat the existing course record, Roberto clocking a time of 2 minutes 7.10 seconds, shaving almost two whole seconds off the previous track record.