Tag Archive for: Irish Derby

Listed victor Lionel has left Menuisier team

David Menuisier has revealed high-class three-year-old Lionel has left his Pulborough yard.

The son of Lope de Vega has had just four career starts, finishing second as a juvenile and signalling his talent when an unlucky third to Natural World in a Newbury maiden in April.

He avenged that defeat in style when landing a strong renewal of the Listed Cocked Hat at Goodwood, but found fast ground against him in the Irish Derby at the Curragh thereafter and was allowed to come home in his own time under Jamie Spencer.

Menuisier was keen to pay tribute to the colt, after owner-breeder Philippa Cooper decided to go in another direction.

He said: “Lionel has gone. It doesn’t bother me. It is one of those things, it is fine.

“It is a shame and I’m sure he will still have a big future, so I would not be too worried about him – he will be fine.

“She (Cooper) is entitled to go and find somebody better, we are all entitled to our opinions and I wish them luck.

“I know the horse – he is a cracker and will be better next year, as he was always going to be better with time. We played, we won, we played, we lost – and that’s the game, you know? We will find another one.”

Menuisier has suffered some wretched luck this term, with top Derby hope Sir Bob Parker suffering a fetlock injury which has seen him sidelined since finishing third in the Group Two Prix Greffulhe at Saint-Cloud in May.

According to the trainer, the Michael Watt-owned son of Siyouni is recovering well, however.

Menuisier added: “Sir Bob Parker has been operated on and I’m not sure we will have him back this year. It seems a little bit unlikely and I don’t want to rush him back, but he is doing well.”

There have been some bright spots, with fast-improving Caius Chorister brilliantly placed by the Frenchman to win five consecutive handicaps between 11 furlongs and a mile and a half.

“Caius Chorister is a very interesting filly and obviously she is kind of holding the fort at the moment,” said Menuisier. “She is an exciting filly and is going for the Melrose Handicap at York (August 20), so obviously we will want a little bit of luck.”

Lionel/Goodwood
Owner-breeder Philippa Cooper watches as Lionel is led into the Goodwood winner’s enclosure by groom Philippe Mercier (Simon Milham/PA)

The current dry spell is holding a few of the string back and Menuisier is praying that rain arrives soon, as he prepares Ottilien for a potential trip to Deauville on the same weekend.

The three-year-old Holy Roman Emperor filly has won two of her five starts and was last seen finishing fourth to impressive Sea Silk Road in the Listed Height Of Fashion at Goodwood in May.

“We have been a bit quiet because of the weather,” admitted Menuisier. “Ottilien wants soft ground, so she is ticking over.

“There may be a change in the weather in Deauville between the 16th and the 19th, so hopefully she might be out at the weekend of the 20th or the 21st, maybe for the (Group Two) Prix de Pomone. Otherwise it is all in the air.”

Plans fluid for Piz Badile following fine Curragh run

Connections of Piz Badile were pleased to see the smart colt get his season back on track by finishing a clear second in the Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.

Frankie Dettori was booked to ride Donnacha O’Brien’s Ballysax Stakes winner in the Derby at Epsom earlier this month, but he trailed home a well-beaten 12th of the 17 runners.

As a result the son of Ulysses lined up the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish equivalent with something to prove, but showed his quality by beating all bar the impressive winner Westover, who had finished a luckless third at Epsom.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners the Niarchos family, said: “It was a very good run. He finished a lot closer to the winner than he had at Epsom, so that was very pleasing.

“We’ll just feel our way before announcing the programme. We’re chatting with Donnacha and we haven’t got his next race set in stone yet.

“We believe he’s a proper Group One horse and obviously we’d like to win a Group One with him this year.

“From the outset Donnacha felt he was a good horse and I’m glad the horse is proving it.”

Another high-class three-year-old who carries the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Stables colours is the Jessica Harrington-trained Discoveries.

Shane Foley and Discoveries on their way to winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes
Shane Foley and Discoveries on their way to winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Brian Lawless/PA)

The daughter of Mastercraftsman finished third behind the brilliant Inspiral when bidding to emulate her siblings Alpha Centauri and Alpine Star by winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

She holds an entry in next week’s Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, but will not make the trip to the July Course.

“She definitely won’t be coming for the Falmouth, she’s having a break at the moment,” Cooper added.

“She ran a very good race at Royal Ascot, so hopefully it’s onwards and upwards.”

Westover dominates for Irish Derby crown

Westover turned the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby into a procession with a dominant display at the Curragh.

Thought by many to be an unlucky third at Epsom behind Desert Crown, Rob Hornby had been replaced by Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane for his Classic assignment.

Keane was intent on not letting the early pace-setter French Claim gain too much of an advantage in front and while Westover was tracking the pace, his main market rival, Aidan O’Brien’s Oaks winner Tuesday, was dropped out by Ryan Moore.

Lionel was one of the first beaten and when Moore tried to make up ground on Tuesday, Keane asked Westover to go and win the race two furlongs out.

The Ralph Beckett-trained colt galloped clear in relentless fashion and while Piz Badile gave game chase, he was no match for the impressive winner.

A winning distance of seven lengths advertised his superiority with a further two back to French Claim in third. Tuesday came home in fourth.

The winner was cut to 4-1 from 10s by Paddy Power for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while he is 7-4 from 4-1 for the St Leger with Ladbrokes.

Keane said: “I suppose every jockey says the race they would like to win is the Epsom Derby, the second one would be the Irish Derby I think. It is great to win our home Derby. It’s unbelievable.

“Full dues to Rob Hornby, I rang him this morning and he told me everything I needed to know about the horse – a true gentleman. He said the horse gets the trip well and he’ll get further, so don’t be afraid to use him up. He said one thing he will do is get to the line. Ralph said the same and, when you turn in, get him rolling and you’ll stay going.

“I was (a bit keen for a furlong) but once he got in behind one, he gave me a beautiful ride. He’s a monster of a horse, so he is only going to be a better horse next year.

“I’m very grateful and thankful to the owners, the Juddmonte family, they have been very good and loyal to us since they joined Glenburnie (retained trainer Ger Lyons’ stable). I’m very thankful that they put their faith in me to ride this horse today.”

Beckett said: “Colin was positive on him from the outset and took the bull by the horns. Rob Hornby spoke to him at lunchtime today and encouraged him to ride him that way.

“It’s important that you go out with your boots on in these occasions and Colin certainly did that today. I really didn’t think he would win like that at this stage. He’s a big horse and still a work in progress. He’s going to get better with age.

Colin Keane (left) and trainer Ralph Beckett celebrate with Westover
Colin Keane (left) and trainer Ralph Beckett celebrate with Westover (Niall Carson/PA)

“I never felt he was going to stop when he got into his stride. He drifted out a bit into the middle of the track and is still, as I say, a work in progress. I hope there is more to come with him. He has a great temperament and that shone through today.

“This was always a race that would fit in well. The track suits him and it’s wonderful to get it done. It’s a big day for us.

“He’s going to develop from three to four, never mind through the rest of the year you would think.

“We’ll discuss it with the family and everybody to see what we do next. It depends how he comes out of today. He’s in the King George and that would certainly be an option.

“He’s not ground dependent and that is important. We can really go where we want, when we want, when we are happy with the horse.”

Oaks winner Tuesday with jockey Ryan Moore at Epsom
Oaks winner Tuesday with jockey Ryan Moore at Epsom (Tim Goode/PA)

O’Brien was full of praise for the placed runners, but felt Tuesday is capable of better in the future.

He said: “I wouldn’t take anything away from the first three horses, but anything that sat handy stayed handy. It was probably hard with the wind to get into it.

“The winner is a very good horse, no doubt.

“There is probably more to come (from Tuesday) and hopefully she will run better the next day.”

Tuesday and Westover face Classic clash at the Curragh

Derby and Oaks form will be put to the test at the Curragh on Saturday as Tuesday and Westover engage in a mouthwatering clash for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Aidan O’Brien’s Tuesday bids to become only the third filly since the turn of the century to beat the boys in Ireland’s premier Classic, with Salsabil triumphing in 1990 and Balanchine striking gold four years later under Frankie Dettori.

Still a maiden in the winter, Tuesday got off the mark at Naas in March before being placed in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Having successfully stepped up in trip when getting the better of Emily Upjohn in an Oaks blockbuster at Epsom three weeks ago, Tuesday now bids to provide O’Brien with a 15th Irish Derby success.

Tuesday (far side) just edged out Emily Upjohn
Tuesday (far side) just edged out Emily Upjohn (John Walton/PA)

“She hasn’t done an awful lot since Epsom, but we’ve been happy with everything she has done,” O’Brien said. “We were delighted with her at Epsom.”

When asked about the forecast rain over the weekend, he added: “She should be fine, she has run with an ease in the ground before so we don’t think it will be an issue.”

Ryan Moore will again be on board Tuesday and told Betfair she is the one to beat.

“I think she just about brings the best form to the table here so, with her 3lb sex allowance added in, she clearly has a very strong chance,” said Moore.

“She had the speed to be placed in two Guineas and she did exceptionally well to win a strong Oaks last time, edging out Emily Upjohn, with the French Oaks winner Nashwa some way behind in third, even if she probably didn’t see out the trip fully.

“Of course, you have to greatly respect the likes of Derby third Westover, who is the obvious and considerable danger, and I also liked Lionel’s win at Goodwood, but my filly looks to hold a favourite’s chance.”

Earlier in the week a lot of column inches were taken up by the decision of owners Juddmonte to replace Rob Hornby, who had ridden the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover to finish third in the Derby, with Irish champion jockey Colin Keane.

Westover went for a spin around Epsom before he ran in the Derby
Westover went for a spin around Epsom before he ran in the Derby (John Walton/PA)

Unsurprisingly, while sympathising with Hornby, Keane was delighted to get the mount.

“I’m very thankful to Juddmonte for putting me up. It’s obviously unfortunate for Rob Hornby, but it’s a brilliant spare ride to pick up,” he said.

“When you look back at the replay (of Epsom), he was the horse that caught your eye (with) the way he finished and usually the Epsom form holds up in the Curragh. A more galloping track might suit him.

“He looks like a very straightforward horse and I’m very much looking forward to him.”

Barry Mahon, Juddmonte’s general manager of Ireland and European racing, said: “In fairness he was very unlucky at Epsom. He drew stall two and I don’t think that stall has produced a Derby winner since they started using stalls.

“We tossed up whether we’d run him in the Dante or not and in fairness to Prince Khalid’s family they said, ‘you’ve won a Derby trial, why do you need to run him in the Dante? Have a bit of faith and go straight to the Derby’ and he ran a cracking race.

“He would definitely be entitled to improve a bit and it’s great the family are letting us bring him over to Ireland. There’s a big operation here and for all the staff here who looked after him when he was a yearling and a weanling and broke him in and started riding him before he went over to Ralph Beckett’s, they’re all excited too.

“It’s great for the Irish Derby to have a horse like him coming over.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Hannibal Barca would not be without claims given he won the Gallinule Stakes on his first outing since leaving Brian Meehan.

Hannibal Barca won on his first start for new connections
Hannibal Barca won on his first start for new connections (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“Hannibal Barca has trained really well and he’s entitled to have a go at the race. It looks like it will be a proper race and we are looking forward to it,” said O’Brien.

“It looks great racing all weekend.”

David Menuisier is hoping the forecast rain arrives for Lionel, a Listed winner at Goodwood last time out.

“He’s absolutely grand, we’ve been pleased with the way he’s strengthened since Goodwood. All the lights are green, we have our fingers crossed for a good run,” said Menuisier.

“He went for a racecourse gallop last weekend at Kempton, all was well and that was his final real piece of work.

“In my heart he always was one of the leading contenders, a lot of things are going his way so let’s hope for a truly-run race and the best horse will win.”

Tuesday tops eight contenders for Irish Derby crown

Oaks winner Tuesday heads a field of eight for Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s narrow Epsom victor was supplemented for the Classic on Tuesday and has since made her way to the top of the market.

The daughter of Galileo will be attempting to become the first filly since Balanchine in 1994 to win the Irish Derby and she is O’Brien’s only runner in the race.

His sons are also represented, however. Joseph O’Brien runs Hannibal Barca, who won the Gallinule Stakes on his first run since leaving Brian Meehan, while Donnacha O’Brien runs Piz Badile, who disappointed at Epsom.

Westover is the major challenger from the UK for Ralph Beckett.

He met trouble in running when a fast-finishing third behind Desert Crown at Epsom. Rob Hornby, who rode him that day, has been replaced by Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane.

The UK challenge is completed by the David Menuisier-trained Lionel, winner of the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.

Jim Bolger runs Boundless Ocean, French Claim represents Paddy Twomey, while Andy Oliver’s Glory Daze completes the field.

A field of six go to post in the GAIN Railway Stakes with three of them, Age Of Kings, Blackbeard and Crispy Cat all having run at Royal Ascot.

Keane set for Westover ride in Curragh showdown with Tuesday

Westover will be partnered by Colin Keane for a mouthwatering clash with Oaks heroine Tuesday in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.

A fast-finishing third in the Derby at Epsom three weeks ago after enduring a troubled run, the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover has been at the head of ante-post lists for the Irish equivalent ever since.

What connections did not envisage, however, was a curveball from Aidan O’Brien, who revealed on Monday that it was “very possible” that Tuesday would be added to the field to take on the colts.

With her participation now confirmed, the daughter of Galileo, who was placed in the 1000 Guineas and the Irish 1,000 Guineas prior to her narrow defeat of Emily Upjohn at Epsom, will bid to become the first filly to win the Irish Derby since the Frankie Dettori-ridden Balanchine in 1994.

Barry Mahon, general manager of Ireland and European racing for Westover’s owner-breeders Juddmonte, said: “Westover is good. He did his last bit of work on Monday morning and Ralph and the team were happy, so everything seems set for Saturday.

“I don’t know what way the bookies will chalk it up with Tuesday in the race. She’s a top-class filly who has been placed in two Guineas and won an Oaks and is bred in the purple, so she’s gong to be a formidable opponent, especially with the 3lb allowance.

“I think her inclusion is going to guarantee a very good race.”

Rob Hornby has been on board Westover on his two previous starts this season, but Keane will take over this weekend, with connections hoping to make the most of his local knowledge.

Mahon added: “Rob Hornby is an integral part of the team in Ralph Beckett’s, has done a wonderful job with Westover and I thought he gave him a beautiful ride in Epsom.

“Our decision is purely down to Colin’s experience and experience of the Curragh and Curragh Classics. What better man than a three-time Irish champion jockey who has won an Irish 2,000 Guineas and an Irish Oaks at the Curragh to get on board?

“He knows the track inside out and hopefully that will be a help to Westover. We just felt, for this race race anyway, that he’s an able deputy.”

Westover and Tuesday are among 16 possible runners in the Ireland’s premier Classic following the confirmation stage, with the latter unsurprisingly the only filly in contention.

Westover is set to be joined on the trip from Britain by the David Menuisier-trained Lionel, who has had this as his target since winning last month’s Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.

O’Brien, who has already won the Irish Derby on a record 14 occasions, has also left in Derby sixth Stone Age as well as Anchorage, last week’s King Edward VII Stakes winner Changingoftheguard and Temple Of Artemis.

Joseph O’Brien has Buckaroo, Hannibal Barca and Vega Magnifico in the mix, while his brother Donnacha could saddle Epsom disappointment Piz Badile.

Jim Bolger’s pair of Boundless Ocean and Manu Et Corde, the Dermot Weld-trained Duke De Sessa, Paddy Twomey’s French Claim and Glory Daze from Andy Oliver’s yard are the other hopefuls.

Tuesday ‘very possible’ to be supplemented for Irish Derby

Aidan O’Brien has not ruled out the possibility of Tuesday taking on the colts in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.

Winner of the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on June 3, the day she actually turned three, if the daughter of Galileo runs she will be attempting to become the first filly to win Ireland’s premier Classic since the Frankie Dettori-ridden Balanchine in 1994.

Her victory in the Oaks was the fifth run of her career, but her third Classic, having finished placed in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish equivalent.

O’Brien, who does not appear to have a standout Irish Derby contender among his colts this season, will be looking for a 15th win in the race this weekend.

“It’s possible we could supplement Tuesday,” O’Brien told the PA news agency.

“I’ve very possible, but we’ll decide in the morning.”

O’Brien enjoyed another successful Royal Ascot last week, once again being crowned leading trainer at the meeting during five days which saw him land his 900th Group or Graded race. He also moved within one of Sir Michael Stoute as the leading trainer at the showpiece fixture with his 81st winner.

Tuesday’s Oaks form took a boost on Sunday when the Hollie Doyle-ridden Nashwa, third at Epsom, dropped down in distance to win the French Oaks at Chantilly.

Menuisier looking forward to Irish Derby challenge with Lionel

David Menuisier took Lionel to Kempton for a racecourse gallop last week ahead of his bid for Classic glory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on Saturday.

Winner of the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, where he came from an unpromising position and finished strongly, the Lope De Vega colt is a general 10-1 chance for the Curragh showpiece.

“All is in place for Saturday, so far so good,” said Menuisier.

“He keeps on developing and getting stronger and stronger. He did a nice piece of work on Thursday at Kempton and that was pretty much his final bit and we were delighted. He’s fit, he knows the job so all is good really.

“In an ideal world I’d like good, good to soft ground as he’s a big horse. Personally I don’t like running on very fast ground, especially when they are inexperienced still. When they get older it’s maybe not as important, but when they are still learning I find they can be taken off their feet and not really understand what is happening.

“I think we’re going there as one of the major players, but obviously I’m biased. I think he’s a really nice horse and the difference between him and many of the other runners is that we have aimed at this race for a while.

“We mapped it out before his previous run, it’s not an afterthought, put it that way – it was his main plan. We did try to run him at Lingfield before Goodwood, but he was a little under the weather. The plan was always to give him a good break before this and it has all gone according to plan.”

Irish Derby ‘most obvious objective’ for Piz Badile

Connections of Piz Badile could still head to the Irish Derby after failing to handle the track in the English equivalent at Epsom on Saturday.

The Donnacha O’Brien-trained son of Ulysses was well supported on the strength of his Group Three Ballysax Stakes win at Leopardstown in early April, but he was never better than in mid-division under Frankie Dettori at Epsom.

His rider reported that Piz Badile “never acted on the track” and finished 12th of the 17 runners, some 16 and a half lengths behind impressive winner Desert Crown.

Alan Cooper, racing manager to Piz Badile’s owners the Niarchos family, said all options are open for the classy colt’s next engagement, including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 25.

“The horse is in good shape and he will have an easy week this week, and we are mulling over the options,” said Cooper.

“Once we have regrouped with Donnacha, we can say what the plan is.

“The Irish Derby is the most obvious objective after Epsom. We are dealing with a top-class horse and we decided to have a bit more time and think about the long-term options.”

Cooper felt that Piz Badile may have been closer to the winner had he received a cleaner passage through the race.

He added: “He is a lovely horse and is beautifully balanced. Wiser men than me have said you don’t know (if they handle the track) unless you actually try it.

“I noticed watching the replay, there was a rough part of the race and there was a bit of argy-bargy, and that probably didn’t help him.

“We can’t redraw a race, you have to go forward. So that’s what we do – we go forward – and the Irish Derby is a possible, and as soon as Donnacha has evaluated everything, we hope to have a plan by next week.”

With his sire winning both the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International as a four-year-old in 2017, hopes are high that Piz Badile will continue to mature.

Cooper revealed: “He is the sort of horse we would like to keep in training as a four-year-old, as that is what we did with his sire, who improved with age – he won two Group Ones as a four-year-old – so we will take our time and feel our way.”

Menuisier favouring Irish Derby date for Goodwood hero Lionel

David Menuisier is leaning towards running Lionel in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby next following his victory at Goodwood last week.

While nothing is decided as yet, the Pulburough handler feels there are several reasons to believe why the test at the Curragh is the best fit for his colt.

In the immediate aftermath of his victory Menuisier also mentioned the Queen’s Vase and the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, as well as the Grand Prix de Paris, with the St Leger later in the season another aim.

“We’ll give ourselves a little bit of time, let the Derby run and see what’s what, but my first thought is to go for the Irish race,” said Menuisier.

“Ascot is a lovely galloping track but I just think the Curragh, with it’s long straight, might suit him and the ground is more likely to be good at the Curragh than Royal Ascot.

“So that’s the vibes, but we haven’t really had a proper discussion yet because we don’t have to make a plan yet.

“While we are thinking of the St Leger, don’t forget he hasn’t even run over a mile and a half yet. While he might stay, I’d want to run over a mile and a half next and that could potentially lead to the Leger.

“I think we’ve plenty of pace though, the Leger is in our minds but he could have the pace to be very good over one-mile-four.”

Monday Musings: Classic Connections

The weekend in Ireland produced another extremely disappointing performance from an Aiden O’Brien Derby favourite, writes Tony Stafford. If anything, High Definition’s sluggish display in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby was in merit terms inferior even to Bolshoi Ballet’s comprehensive defeat at Epsom.

The discovery of a cut to a hind leg immediately after that race gave connections a straw to cling to with Bolshoi Ballet, while on Saturday a stumble through clipping heels after two furlongs apparently unbalanced High Definition with jockey Ryan Moore apparently never able to get him back on an even keel thereafter.

The common denominator in a period when Irish horses have otherwise been wiping the floor with their English-trained counterparts over jumps and on the Flat has been the two Derby wins for Godolphin on horses trained by Charlie Appleby.  Adam Kirby was the unexpected hero in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom but William Buick, only third that day on first string Hurricane Lane, was again in the saddle as that horse put things right at The Curragh.

From the time when his father Walter used to bring him over from Norway, where he was born, while Scots-born Buick senior was the eight times champion jockey in Scandinavia, William always had the mark of a future top jockey.

He used to come along to Newbury racecourse, a tiny lad, and visit the press room where his proud dad brought him and, later on, his two younger brothers, Martin and Andrew. Even years later when he started riding aged 16 as a 7lb claiming apprentice from Andrew Balding’s stable he weighed just about 5st wet through.

Walter took on the job of trying to get him started and initially it proved difficult. Then one day he rode his first winner for Paul D’Arcy, a friend of Walter’s from their riding days before Walter moved to Scandinavia.

That made little difference to the flow of rides and one day Walter asked me whether I could talk to any trainers. William had been enrolled in the Newmarket Jockey School and apparently had made something of an enemy of one of the coaches who found him rather too ready to express his opinions, a tendency that years later cost him a doubling of a suspension when he accused French stewards of being corrupt, a comment he later wisely withdrew.

At the time I was very friendly with Vince Smith and we’d recently arranged for a couple of Raymond Tooth horses to go to him, with excellent results. Vince is no longer a trainer and after surgery for gender transformation, is now known as Victoria Smith.

Vince gave the boy his chance and in the last two months of 2006 he rode the three-year-old handicapper Vacation six times to two wins, two seconds and two thirds, the impetus of which helped get him going. By the end of the year he had clocked up ten wins. Vince continued training for only two more seasons and William rode seven winners from 40 mounts for him with another 13 finishing second or third.

But what I believe was a big step in the making of William was when, as a result of a recommendation by Michael Tabor, William spent the early part of 2007 in the US in the Florida winter base of top US trainer Todd Pletcher. That, rather than run through his claim in egg-and-spoon races on the all-weather, Buick senior agreed, was a better idea and more beneficial for his future.

On that trip, with his dad as chaperone, he was taken under his wing by the great Angel Cordero in his daily track work and returned to the UK a better rider and a much more rounded young man.

While voted the Apprentice of the Year in the Derby awards in both 2017 and 2018 by UK journalists, Buick was actually beaten as champion apprentice the first year by Greg Fairley who had been supported with all the ammunition available from the country’s now winning-most trainer Mark Johnston. Sadly within four years of having maintained a similar level, Fairley found the struggle to deal with maintaining an unnatural weight beyond him.

In 2008 Buick did gain his coveted Champion Apprentice title, although he had to share it with another Andrew Balding rider, geegeez-sponsored David Probert. Within a couple of years he was head-hunted by John Gosden and for four years, during which time he won a first Irish Derby on Jack Hobbs, the pair had spectacular success together.

But the final step on his graduation into the top sphere was being recruited in 2014 by Godolphin with all the winter benefit of winning such races as the Dubai World Cup and its extravagant rewards. That has projected Buick into the same elite jockey grouping as Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore.

Moore has been the Coolmore number one throughout the same period, succeeding Joseph O’Brien, while Dettori, previously the long-term Godolphin number one, switched back to Gosden on Buick’s departure and duly extended his astonishing longevity with the UK’s top stable, most notably with his association with Enable.

William won the 2018 Derby for Godolphin on Masar and, while he could finish only third behind Adam Kirby, who rode lesser-fancied stablemate Adayar, on Hurricane Lane in the Blue Riband earlier this month, he remained loyal to his mount and was rewarded three weeks later with what was a second victory in the Irish Derby.

It required a top-class ride on Saturday as, going into the final furlong, Dettori, riding the Martin Meade-trained Lone Eagle, had poached a clear lead. With none of the home team looking up to making a challenge the two UK colts had the finish to themselves.

Between the Godolphin pair at Epsom was the Richard Hannon-trained and Amo Racing-owned Mojo Star, still a maiden but he was now strongly fancied to correct that status in this Classic. Unfortunately for connections, when Buick first launched his run down the outside of the field he instigated a touch of general bunching to his inside.

Mojo Star was the worst affected in the scrimmage so, while having no time to recover fully, he did well to finish fifth, just ahead of Irish 2,000 hero, Mac Swiney. Wordsworth, in third, was the best of the Ballydoyle runners but a full five lengths adrift of the first two.

So, with a Classic win, there was a little respite for the town of Newmarket, still shocked by the sudden resignation earlier that day of Matt Hancock from his post as Health Secretary and therefore the most constant face of the Government’s during the Covid-19 crisis of the past 15 months. Hancock is the Member of Parliament for the West Suffolk constituency which includes Newmarket.

The former minister was the subject of a leaked picture, probably taken from a phone camera, showing him snogging a woman that turned out to be his future live-in partner, an action contrary to Covid-19 regulations and a few other considerations too, I would imagine. The break-up of his marriage had been announced just before the departure.

I touch on this simply because he was, or rather is, a fan of horse racing and while the financial situation for owners remains as dire as it has been for many years because of the inadequate prize money levels, the sport certainly needs friends in high places. I don’t suppose he’ll be too much use from the back benches.

I digress. Whereas Adayar was a home-bred, Hurricane Lane, a son of Frankel, was bred by Philippa and Nicholas Cooper’s Normandie Stud in Sussex. I first met the Coopers in the spring of 1998 after Hitman, a decent horse I bought as a yearling and had in training with Henry Cecil along with Peter Mines and a few of his pals under the name of the Paper Boys, was beaten a neck by their horse I’m Proposin at Leicester.

We were all shocked, but Henry, despite Hitman’s having starting the 4-9 favourite after some exceptional homework, was not surprised. “A better horse still needs to be fit to win and Hitman needed the race. When it came to the crucial stage, I’m Proposin <an 8-1 shot that day and winner of his next two races for John Dunlop> was fit, so he won.” A lesson learned from the words of the master! Mainly jumping owners at the time, the Coopers graduated to the Flat before becoming highly-successful commercial breeders.

They reluctantly decided to sell their West Sussex farm in 2017 but continue breeding basing their mares at Coolmore and Newsells Park, the latter of which has changed hands in the past few weeks.  Gale Force, a daughter of Shirocco and, rarely for Philippa, not a home-bred, was sold in a partial dispersal of Normandie’s stock in December 2019 for 300,000gns. That was two months after her son, to be known as Hurricane Lane, went through the same Park Paddocks sale ring for 200,000gns.

Part of the reason for the Coopers’ sale was the tendency for all their retired racehorses to come back to the farm and then live to a great age. Now they are kept at Angmering Park, near Arundel, the home of the late Lady Anne Herries and former training base of William Knight, who moved to Newmarket early last year.

The Classic Year 2021 has thrown a few unexpected barbs at Coolmore with Santa Barbara’s defeats in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks even though they still won both races. Mother Earth’s victory in the Newmarket race and more emphatically Snowfall’s record-breaking romp at Epsom obviously lessened the blow each time.

Yesterday Santa Barbara, with Aidan O’Brien splitting the difference in the ten-furlong Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes, feature race on the final day of the Derby meeting, went a long way towards restoring her reputation. Initially looking at best booked for third or fourth, she produced a flying finish between horses in the last half furlong under a left-hand drive by Moore and only narrowly failed to catch the more experienced four-year-old, Thundering Nights.

That filly, sent to Belmont Park for her previous run and an excellent second there in a mares’ Grade 2 for Joseph O’Brien, looked likely to win comfortably but Santa Barbara reduced the margin to a neck.

With four three-year-old fillies at Ballydoyle already Classic winners this year, the in-fighting for a place in the Nassau Stakes line-up will be intense but at least Santa Barbara must now be a contender. As Peeping Fawn showed back in 2007, there’s plenty of time to rebuild a reputation. She won four Group 1 races only starting at Goodwood that year.

- TS

O’Brien reflects on ‘non-event’ for High Definition

Aidan O’Brien is keen to put a line through High Definition’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby display, after the colt clipped heels early in the Curragh Classic.

Winter favourite for the Cazoo Derby, the son of Galileo had a blood disorder in the spring and it was a rush for O’Brien to get him to the Dante Stakes at York, eventually won by Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane.

High Definition was third in the trial, running on into third, and when the decision was taken to skip Epsom and target the Curragh he was immediately installed as favourite. But he never looked like troubling the judge on Saturday.

“After two furlongs he clipped heels and nearly came down. Ryan (Moore) said he got disorganised then and he couldn’t get him going after that,” said O’Brien.

High Definition (left) was not far behind Hurricane Lane at York
High Definition (left) was not far behind Hurricane Lane at York (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Maybe he frightened himself, he got on to the wrong leg and he couldn’t get him back. He could never click him into gear and it was a non-event really.

“When he ran against the winner in York it looked like another two furlongs was going to be right up his alley and he had run around the Curragh twice before.

“We’ll just put a line through it, probably give him a little rest and have him back in the autumn.

“It just didn’t work out and was one of those days.”

He added: “He obviously hasn’t done anything since but he seems grand. He’ll do a little bit tomorrow.

“He was in a lovely position, cantering away but the moment it happened he just clicked out of gear.”

Hurricane Lane denies Lone Eagle to grab Irish Derby crown

Hurricane Lane just got up in the closing stages to deny Lone Eagle as the British raiders dominated the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Third at Epsom behind stablemate Adayar, Charlie Appleby made no secret of the fact he expected Hurricane Lane to come out on top that day.

Winner of the Dante Stakes at York prior to his big date at Epsom, Hurricane Lane met with his first defeat there but regained the winning thread under William Buick.

Frankie Dettori looked to have stolen the Classic on Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, shooting three lengths clear with two furlongs to run.

There was plenty of trouble in running for those in behind though, with Hurricane Lane seemingly edging right in the melee, but once straightened out he began to make ground relentlessly, eventually prevailing by a neck.

The pair pulled seven lengths clear of Wordsworth in third, with a stewards’ inquiry swiftly called but the placings remained unaltered. Buick was given a two-day suspension though.

“Fantastic – this means the world to me,” said Buick.

“I must give credit to Charlie Appleby and the team at Moulton Paddocks at home.

“This horse has done nothing but improve – and he improved since Epsom. We all know that’s not an easy thing to do.

“I’m in a very privileged position and I must say that I thought halfway through the race that we’d given up our position behind Frankie a little bit, and I thought he’d get first run.

“My horse quickened up really well and showed a lot of quality out there today.

“Once I switched him out wide, he managed to get some clear running room and he took off. I was just praying I’d get the leader in time.

“He’s a very, very good horse. We obviously fancied him at Epsom and today he’s improved again.

“It means the world to me but I have to give a massive thank you to the team at home and obviously His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as well. He puts so much into it. No one deserves it more than he does.

“This horse is a slow-learner, a bit like myself, but we’ll get there in the end!”

Charlie Appleby claimed a second Derby in 2021
Charlie Appleby claimed a second Derby in 2021 (Simon Cooper/PA)

Appleby felt Hurricane Lane had made significant strides after Epsom and had full confidence in his staying abilities.

He said: “I couldn’t have been any happier coming into the race. I felt that he gained experience at Epsom. He surprised me at Epsom as I thought he would travel better but inexperience showed around there.

“It was noticeable after Epsom how he’d grown up, his work was sharper. The only negative today was the ground tightening up over the last 24 hours and coming down the hill William came under the pump a bit.

“Once he met the rising ground again, I was confident that he would gallop all the way to the line.

“I thought that Frankie had stolen a march and he’d be a hard horse to peg back, but I knew our horse would keep galloping to the line.”

Adayar is due to contest the King George for Appleby
Adayar is due to contest the King George for Appleby (John Walton/PA)

With Adayar set to represent the team in next month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot, Appleby will take his time in mapping out Hurricane Lane’s next target.

He added: “We have no immediate plans. Adayar is going to head to the King George and I’d say we will sit tight until the King George and see what unfolds there.”

The big disappointment of the race was the favourite, Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, who was one of the first horses beaten.

Appleby looking to Hurricane Lane to secure Derby double

Epsom third Hurricane Lane will bid to complete a Derby double for trainer Charlie Appleby at the Curragh.

The Frankel colt was the best-fancied of three runners for the Moulton Paddocks maestro in the premier Classic at Epsom three weeks ago, having stretched his unbeaten record to three in the Dante Stakes at York, where he had High Definition in third.

Hurricane Lane was ultimately upstaged by his stablemate Adayar on the big day, but performed with plenty of credit to finish third – and Appleby is hoping he can provide Britain with a rare victory in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Appleby, who is yet to win an Irish Classic, told the Godolphin website: “We were pleased with Hurricane Lane’s effort at Epsom, and he has more experience under his belt going into this.

“He was an inexperienced horse going into the Derby, and it may have found him out slightly, but he has definitely sharpened up for the run.

“The style of the track at the Curragh should suit him better, and if he can repeat his Derby effort it will certainly make him very competitive.”

Hurricane Lane has just over three lengths to find with Richard Hannon’s 50-1 Epsom runner-up Mojo Star.

Hannon said: “He ran a super race at Epsom. It was a brave/stupid call, but it paid off – and here we are.

“It looks like he’s going to be a very good horse. I think High Definition is the one to beat, and then there’s the battle of the placed horses from Epsom, but High Definition looks a very good horse and a worthy favourite.

“I think our lad has a very good chance, and if he runs the same race as he did at Epsom he’ll go close to winning.

“The favourite (High Definition) looks a very decent horse. I’m not sure he’s taken on horses of this calibre yet, but he’s obviously doing great things at home and they like him a lot – there’s a lot of strength in depth.”

The other British raider is Lone Eagle, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

The Cocked Hat Stakes winner missed Epsom because of a dirty scope, but is reported to be back on song by trainer Martyn Meade.

“We couldn’t be happier with him,” said the Manton handler.

“It’s not easy with all the travelling and everything. But he’s going in as a fresh horse, having missed Epsom, and we’ve got a good man on his back to run against the Irish – Frankie (Dettori) is the man for the job.

“What will be will be, but it would be nice to think if he runs up to his best he should have a really good chance.”

Earlswood on his way to winning at the Curragh
Earlswood on his way to winning at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Johnny Murtagh, who won the Irish Derby four times during his illustrious riding career, relies on Earlswood to provide him with a first Classic success as a trainer.

Since making a winning debut for the yard at Navan in March, the former John Oxx inmate has finished third in the Dee Stakes at Chester and won the Gallinule Stakes at this venue last month.

Murtagh said: “We fancied him going to Navan first time, and he won a maiden over a mile in heavy ground, so I thought he might be a bit better than a maiden.

“I decided to go to Chester so he could learn a bit and we’d find out more. He ran well on the day, but got tapped for toe.

“We knew coming back from Chester we had a nice horse, and he won the Gallinule nicely on the day – which gave us a free ticket for the Irish Derby.

“He has a few pounds to find, but I’m hoping stepping up in trip will bring out more improvement in him.”

High Definition primed for Irish Derby date

High Definition belatedly has his chance to bid for Classic glory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Having come from the clouds to win the Beresford Stakes in September, the Galileo colt spent the winter months at the top of ante-post lists for the Derby at Epsom.

However, unsatisfactory blood test results ruled him out of his intended return in the Lingfield Derby Trial – and while he performed with credit to finish third in the Dante at York the following week, connections ultimately decided against a return to Britain.

Instead, High Definition will line up at the Curragh on Saturday as the hot favourite to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a 15th Irish Derby success in the hands of Ryan Moore.

“High Definition has been in good form since the Dante – everything has gone well with him since then,” said the Ballydoyle handler, whose first Irish Derby came with Desert King in 1997.

“Obviously when he wasn’t going to Epsom, it was decided this was the plan.

“I think he’s versatile ground-wise, but we think the better the ground, the better it will suit him.”

Desert King and Christy Roche see off a challenge from Dr Johnson in the Irish Derby
Desert King and Christy Roche see off a challenge from Dr Johnson in the Irish Derby (PA)

O’Brien also saddles Irish 2,000 Guineas third Van Gogh – who was last seen finishing down the field in the French Derby – as well as Wordsworth, Arturo Toscanini and Matchless, all of whom ran at Royal Ascot last week.

O’Brien added: “It’s Van Gogh’s first time over a mile and a half. We were happy with his run in France – he didn’t have a good draw, but we thought he ran very well.

“Wordsworth is in in good form. He only ran in Ascot last week (second in the Queen’s Vase), but he seems to have come out of the race well.

“We always thought he would stay well. It was the first time he ran over that distance (a mile and three-quarters) in Ascot, and obviously his brother (Kew Gardens) stayed very well.

Van Gogh also represents Aidan O'Brien
Van Gogh also represents Aidan O’Brien (PA)

“Arturo Toscanini ran very well in the Gallinule, but he got chopped back in Ascot in a slowly-run race (seventh in Queen’s Vase), and we think it probably didn’t suit him. We think he’ll leave that run behind him.

“Matchless ran well in Ascot (eighth in the Hampton Court Stakes). He’s going up another two furlongs as well, and we will see what happens – he looks like a horse that will stay further.”