Westover set for deserved break after recent exertions

Irish Derby champion Westover is set to be freshened up for an autumn campaign following his lacklustre display in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Badly hampered when eventually finishing third in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom, the Ralph Beckett-trained son of Frankel made no mistake at the Curragh late last month, landing the mile-and-a-half Classic by an impressive seven lengths in the hands of Colin Keane.

That faultless display, combined with the defection of Desert Crown, saw the Juddmonte-owned colt sent off the 13-8 favourite for the first real 12-furlong clash of the generations. But having been far too keen in the early stages of the race, he faded out of contention tamely once the six-runner field turned for home.

“I think it just wasn’t our day,” said Barry Mahon, general manager for Juddmonte.

“As we had said prior to the race, we were a little nervous coming into it on the back of being to Epsom and the Curragh and it was a tight enough timescale with such a horse.

“He got a bit warm in the prelims and a little excited and then in the parade ring he got in behind Emily Upjohn, which wasn’t ideal.

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“Then the race just didn’t pan out in our favour. There wasn’t a lot of pace and Westover was a little bit keen so we got left in front. It just wasn’t ideal and wasn’t our day.

Jockey Colin Keane (left) and trainer Ralph Beckett (right) celebrate after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby with Westover
Jockey Colin Keane (left) and trainer Ralph Beckett (right) celebrate after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby with Westover (Niall Carson/PA)

“He’ll have a good rest now, I spoke to Ralph this morning and the horse has come out of it fine. He has a couple of little overreaches on his hind leg where maybe in the first furlong or two when he crossed over to the rail something caught him from behind, but all just superficial.”

With Westover now spending some time recuperating from three runs in Group One company in the space of seven weeks, there is plenty of options open for an autumn campaign.

One possibility could see him step up in trip for the St Leger, a race for which he is the general 4-1 favourite.

“That’s definitely on the agenda,” Mahon continued. “And also all the other middle-distance races such as the Prix Niel and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and whatever else, but the horse is going to tell us where and when.

“We’ll give him a good rest now and freshen him up for the autumn. We probably won’t even talk about a race for probably a month until we’ve seen how he is and then we’ll start working towards something at that stage.

“He’s trained great all season and one of his biggest attributes has been his calm, relaxed nature and we saw on Saturday that we’d probably just pushed him far enough and he was beginning to get warm beforehand, he just needs a rest now and we’ll regroup for the autumn.”

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