Donn's Articles » Irish Derby – Horse by horse

Irish Derby – Horse by horse

Boundless Ocean (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning)

Boundless Ocean got off the mark on his fifth attempt at Leopardstown in April when he won a 10-furlong maiden which has worked out well since.  Well down the field at a big price in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket next time, Jim Bolger’s colt was better in the Gallinule Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend when he finished third, after being short of room inside the final furlong, less than three lengths behind Hannibal Barca.

He was beaten by the progressive filly Cairde Go Deo in the listed King George V Cup at Leopardstown last time however, when he was a little keen early on, and he is going to have to step forward from that if he is going to be involved.  He is more exposed than most, but he only has three lengths to find with Hannibal Barca on their Gallinule running, when he didn’t have a lot of luck in-running.

French Claim (Paddy Twomey/Billy Lee)

Winner of his maiden on his racecourse debut last year, and fourth in the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes on his only other run at two, Paddy Twomey’s horse was impressive in winning over 10 furlongs on easy ground at Cork on his debut this season, staying on well to come right away form his rivals inside the final furlong.  He was well beaten by Stone Age in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown in early May, over 10 furlongs on good ground, when he appeared to get a little out-paced at the top of the home straight as the leader quickened before keeping on and just missing out on second place.

The French Fifteen colt is going to have to step up on anything that he has done before, but he has raced just four times, and there is the promise of more.  And you have to look twice at everything that Paddy Twomey runs these days.  The trainer’s strike rate over the course of the last four seasons is over 26%, and his strike rate this season so far is a remarkable 37%.  The step up to a mile and a half on Saturday should suit French Claim, and a drop of rain would not be a negative.

Glory Daze (Andy Oliver/Ronan Whelan)

A good winner of his maiden at The Curragh over 10 furlongs on his debut this season, Glory Daze put up a nice performance next time in finishing second behind Stone Age in Leopardstown’s Derby Trial.  Re-shod before the race, Andy Oliver’s colt was well beaten by the winner that day, but he kept on well for pressure on the far side to just get up and take the runner-up spot from French Claim.

You have to forgive him an abject performance in The Derby at Epsom, but you easily can, he never looked at ease on the track.  A half-brother to Rita Levi, who has won twice over a mile and a half, he has lots to find on the top-rated horses in the race, but this 12-furlong trip looks like a good trip for him.

Hannibal Barca (Joseph O’Brien/Shane Crosse)

The sole Joseph O’Brien representative in the race from myriad options, Hannibal Barca won his maiden last year at Salisbury over seven furlongs on soft ground when he was with Brian Meehan, and he finished a close-up fourth behind Luxembourg in the Vertem Futurity Trophy on his final run at two.

The Zoffany colt was impressive in winning the Gallinule Stakes on his Irish debut last time.  Weak in the market beforehand that day, he was held up early on by Shane Crosse, he moved up nicely on the outside as they rounded the home turn, he travelled best of all to the two-furlong marker, and he kept on well down the near side to win by a length, going away at the finish.  He could progress considerably from that run, his first for Joseph O’Brien and his first in seven months, and, a three-parts brother to Fledged, who won over a mile and a half and a mile and three quarters, he could improve again for stepping up to the Derby distance.  He could run a big race for Joseph O’Brien, whose horses continue to be in tremendous form and who won the race with Latrobe in 2018.

Lionel (David Menuisier/Jamie Spencer)

The least experienced horse in the race, Lionel shaped encouragingly on his debut this season in finishing third behind two Charlie Appleby horses in a Newbury maiden over a mile and three furlongs, and he stepped forward from that last time when he won the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.

He was keen enough that day behind a moderate pace, but he stayed on well on the near side, to get up and win by a neck from Aldous Huxley, with another half-length back to Lysander, who came out and finished third behind Changingoftheguard in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.  The Cocked Hat Stakes was won last year by Lone Eagle, who was only just beaten by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby, and David Menuisier’s horse should progress from that run.  Out of Gretchen, who won a Park Hill Stakes over a mile and six furlongs and who is a half-sister to Yorkshire Cup winner and Irish St Leger dead-heater Duncan, he should improve for the step up to a mile and a half.

Piz Badile (Donnacha O’Brien/Gavin Ryan)

Piz Badile battled on well to just get the better of Buckaroo in the Ballysax Stakes on his debut this season, the pair of them finishing nicely clear of Duke De Sessa in third, and Buckaroo enhanced that form when he ran out an impressive winner of the Tetrarch Stakes next time.

Donnacha O’Brien’s horse could only finish 12th in the Epsom Derby next time, but it never really happened for him that day.  He should be better suited by The Curragh than he was by Epsom and, if he can improve a little on the form that he showed in the Ballysax, that could take him close.

Westover (Ralph Beckett/Colin Keane)

We will never know whether or not Westover would have beaten Desert Crown in the Epsom Derby had he enjoyed a clear run through the final two furlongs, so the debate can rage on.  We do know that, at worst, he would have finished much closer to Sir Michael Stoute’s horse at Epsom than he did had West Wind Blows rolled to his left in front of him instead of to his right – he was 0.44secs faster through the final furlong than the winner – and even a repeat of that performance could be good enough to see him home.

Ralph Beckett’s horse won the Sandown Classic Trial on his debut this season, a race which was won last year by subsequent King Edward VII Stakes winner and this year’s Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Alenquer, with Derby winner and King George winner Adayar in second and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Yibir in third.  In fourth place that day was Lone Eagle, the subsequent Cocked Hat Stakes winner who was only just caught by Hurricane Lane in last year’s Irish Derby.  A full-brother to Wolferton Stakes winner Monarchs Glen, Westover stays a mile and a half well and, while you have to feel for Rob Hornby, who did very little wrong at Epsom, Colin Keane is a great booking.

Tuesday (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore)

Tuesday is obviously a fascinating addition to the Irish Derby field, bidding, as she is, to become the first filly since Balanchine in 1994 to win the race.  Third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and second in the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh, Aidan O’Brien’s filly put up a career-best performance last time when she stepped up by a half a mile in trip and won The Oaks.

The handicapper gave her a rating off 117 after her Oaks win, which leaves her as the highest-rated horse in Saturday’s field, and that is before you factor in her 3lb fillies’ allowance, so it makes sense that she is at the head of the market.  A full-sister to the remarkable Minding, who won the Guineas and the Oaks and the Pretty Polly Stakes, as well as the Nassau Stakes and the QE2 and the Fillies’ Mile and the Moyglare Stud Stakes, Tuesday only just turned three on the day that she won The Oaks, so there could be even more to come.

© Sporting Life, 24th Jun 2022