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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.”

Mojo Star out to conquer the Curragh for Hannon

Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star almost caused a seismic upset at Epsom, and heads to the Curragh this weekend with major claims in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Sent off a 50-1 chance as a two-race maiden on the first Saturday in June, Mojo Star beat all bar Charlie Appleby’s Adayar, himself among the outsiders.

Punters will see nothing like those odds this time, with Mojo Star the general second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, and Hannon is expecting another bold display.

“He was always a very laid-back horse. I thought he was a nice horse, but didn’t know he was a very good horse,” said Hannon.

“You could have blown me over with a feather when he was beaten at Newbury earlier this season. I managed to get both him and Snow Lantern beaten on the same day – and I thought ‘this is going to be a long year’.

“In hindsight, he’s a very big horse and he’s grown. It was a bit of a leap of faith putting him in the Derby – but as soon as he pulled up at Newbury, I thought he was a Derby horse if I’d ever seen one.”

Mojo Star duly proved the point – but Adayar shot up the rails, and was not for catching.

“The winner had a beautiful run round, full credit to (winning jockey) Adam Kirby,” said Hannon.

“We got a bit held up on Tattenham Corner – we were travelling very well, and the ground he was making at the line was very pleasing.

“I think this track will suit him a lot more. I was delighted with second – and he was a running-on second.

“It would be a right up there (with the best days of my career). We’re hardly synonymous with Derby horses. I remember one year at school my dad had the favourite and second-favourite – and they were last and second-last!

“I was fifth a few years ago with Humphrey Bogart, and second with this lad.

“I used to go to (the Irish Derby) with a few mates from Ireland as a kid. We took Alriffa one year (1994, fourth), and he wasn’t good enough, but to have one with a chance is great.”

Rossa Ryan is making a name for himself
Rossa Ryan is making a name for himself (John Walton/PA)

Mojo Star was ridden by by David Egan at Epsom – but having recovered from injury, Rossa Ryan will resume his partnership in his role as retained rider for owners Amo Racing.

Hannon is full of praise for the rider, who is making a big name for himself.

“I think Rossa is the real deal,” he said.

“He came along quite quickly and is very ambitious. A lot of apprentices can rattle through their apprenticeships and not get the experience which is needed – but he is very meticulous and detailed and he’s riding really well. I’m glad he’s back to ride him.

“I think the youngsters have a self-belief. Like footballers, they have this self-belief because they are very talented – and if they are riding good horses it all helps.”

Murtagh full of Derby confidence in rising star Coen

Johnny Murtagh has full faith in Ben Coen as the teenager prepares for the biggest ride of his short career to date on Earlswood in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Coen could hardly be heading to the Curragh at a better time, having ridden Murtagh’s Create Belief to victory in the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

In former multiple Classic-winning jockey Murtagh, the 19-year-old could have no better tutor – but the Kildare trainer admits Coen is far ahead of where he was at the same stage of their respective careers.

“I keep telling him he’s much better than Johnny Murtagh was at 19,” he said.

“He’s much cooler, he’s much calmer and he’s much more on the ball.

“He’s a very nice fella, he rides very well. That was his first time on the big stage at Ascot last week, and he seemed to thrive on it. That’s what you have to do when you are under pressure.

“I think he’s the real deal. I keep forgetting he’s only 19 – and he’s only going to get better, riding these good horses in these big races.”

Earlswood booked his ticket for the Derby on Saturday by winning the Gallinule Stakes, and Murtagh expects the step up to a mile and a half to bring out even more improvement on his return to the Curragh.

Earlswood was impressive in the Gallinule
Earlswood was impressive in the Gallinule (PA Wire)

He added: “You have to stay to win at the Curragh, the last three furlongs are a long way home – it’s fair though, (and) the best horse usually wins.

“Ballydoyle normally run four or five every year and make sure it’s a test. I think our horse will get the trip well.

“The favourite (High Definition) looks like he’ll improve for York, but I think the Epsom Derby was a very good race this year. It was a properly run race, and there didn’t look to be many hard-luck stories.

“High Definition will have to be everything they say he is, and he’ll have to improve a good deal from York.

“The Irish Derby is open – and it’s strong.”

High Definition leading O’Brien squad in Irish Derby

High Definition is on course for Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, although Aidan O’Brien has yet to finalise his full squad for the Curragh Classic.

The Galileo colt was the winter favourite for the Derby at Epsom after winning each of his two juvenile starts, before a blood disorder scuppered a planned Lingfield run and sent him to York’s Dante Stakes for a Classic prep.

High Definition finished third on his return on the Knavesmire and had been expected to line up at Epsom, only for O’Brien and Coolmore to make a late change of plan three days before the Derby which saw him miss out in favour of the Curragh.

O’Brien said: “Everything has been good since he ran at York and the plan is for him to run at the moment.

“We’re happy with him at the moment.”

After relying on just Bolshoi Ballet at Epsom, O’Brien has a number of contenders at this stage for the Curragh, with a couple possibly making a swift return after running at Ascot last week.

The Mediterranean finished fourth in the King Edward VII Stakes, while Sir Lamorak was a fast-finishing second in the King George V Stakes. Both are in the frame, along with Van Gogh, who was well beaten by stablemate St Mark’s Basilica on his most recent run in the French Derby.

Sir Lamorak ran a big race at Royal Ascot
Sir Lamorak ran a big race at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

O’Brien added: “Some of the Ascot horses will be left in like The Mediterranean and Sir Lamorak. Van Gogh is another we’ve been thinking of and obviously as it gets closer we’ll narrow it down a bit more.”

The Ballydoyle handler also has Arturo Toscanini, Carlisle Bay, Matchless and Wordsworth among eight entries, with Bolshoi Ballet a notable withdrawal after his unplaced Epsom run.

The colt suffered a cut to his hind leg at an early point in the Derby and has not recovered in time to have another crack at Classic glory.

O’Brien said: “He’s back cantering again. Obviously this weekend will come too quick, but he is cantering now.

“I was thinking if we get through next week without a hiccup, then maybe we can start looking for a race for him after that.

“Once we get him back up to full work, which will probably be early to middle of next week, then we can start looking.”

Mojo Star (purple hat) found only Adayar too good at Epsom
Mojo Star (purple hat) found only Adayar too good at Epsom (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Mojo Star defied odds of 50-1 at Epsom and will bid to go one place better in Ireland after being added to the race.

The Richard Hannon-trained colt remains a maiden after three runs, but was only four and a half lengths behind Adayar earlier this month.

Dante winner Hurricane Lane was third at Epsom for Charlie Appleby and could try again, while there is further British representation in the shape of the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle, who was fourth in the Sandown Classic Trial in which Adayar was second.

Irish 2000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney was fourth at Epsom and is in the mix for Jim Bolger, with Johnny Murtagh calling on Earlswood and Donnacha O’Brien running Fernando Vichi.

Irish Derby on Mojo Star’s agenda

Cazoo Derby runner-up Mojo Star could bid to go one better in this month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Having been beaten a nose and half a length on his first two career starts, the Sea The Stars colt was thrown in at the deep end by trainer Richard Hannon at Epsom on Saturday, but justified his place in the Derby field by beating all bar the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast on Monday, Hannon said: “He’s always been an extremely nice horse – one of the nicest we’ve had here for a long time.

“Yes, it was very brave running a maiden in the Derby – and most people agreed that we shouldn’t have been there, judging by his price (50-1). But he’s proved everybody wrong and he’s a very smart horse, which is nice.

“The winner had the perfect run. I’m not for one minute saying we’d have beaten the winner, but we were just stuck a little bit coming round Tattenham Corner – and we were running on right at the line.”

While connections have the option of dropping back in class for a maiden, Hannon is keen to remain at the highest level, with a trip to the Curragh on June 26 likely to be next on Mojo Star’s agenda.

“He’s absolutely fine – and we’re looking for the next Derby, I suppose,” he added.

“It’s not an easy feat, but I’m not sure we’ve anything to gain by winning a novice or a maiden – and quite often these sort of horses get turned over at long odds-on in those sort of races.

“I think we’ll be looking at something like an Irish Derby or a King George, maybe. If you finish in the first three in the English Derby, you get a free go at the Irish Derby, so that’s got to be worth looking at.

“We’ve never had a horse finish that close in a Derby before. They’re extremely hard to find, these sort of horses, and you’ve got to keep hold of them and keep them racing as long as you can.

“I said to Kia Joorabchian – who owns the horse – before the Derby that next year’s his year. He’s always looked like a horse that, when he’s four, he could be something a little bit different.”

Meade could look to Irish Derby with Lone Eagle after colt forced to miss Epsom

Lone Eagle could head for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby after being ruled out of the English version due to a dirty scope.

The Galileo colt was found not to be 100 per cent when given a routine test after a workout on Thursday morning.

It was a bitter blow to trainer Martyn Meade and his team, as Lone Eagle looked to be in top form after easily winning the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood two weeks ago under a 5lb penalty.

“We were all ready – we gave him his last bit of prep this morning for a blow-out and as a matter of course we scoped him and unfortunately there was a bit of mucus,” said the Manton handler.

“The trouble is the horse has been in great form – he was eating everything, working so well and his coat was looking great, but you can’t get away from the fact that for that race you need to be 100 per cent, not 90 per cent.

“I was devastated. It’s very disappointing.”

Meade feels Royal Ascot, where Lone Eagle holds an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes, is likely to come too soon – but the Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 26 could be on the agenda.

“It’s going to be a rush to get to Ascot, so I don’t think we’ll be going there,” he said.

“We’ll look at the Irish Derby which might suit him a bit better. I think that’s where we might go. We could still go for a Derby, but it’s not the English one.”