O'Brien saddles shock Derby winner
Aidan O'Brien took his 13th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday when he fielded five of the eight runners and had the first three home but still created a huge shock when winning it with the outsider of the lot, Sovereign at 33/1, under Padraig Beggy who was having his first winner of the year.
Beggy was on another O'Brien shocker when he won the 2017 Epsom Derby on Wings of Eagles at 40/1.
He set out to fulfil his pace making duties here with Seamie Heffernan for company on O'Brien's Norway (16/1).
When that one dropped away Beggy still had lots left in the tank to kick on.
Epsom Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyck (5/4f) under Ryan Moore, could only get within six lengths of him, with Norway staying on to be third.
This was the €1.5m highlight of the Irish flat year, and you would have to wonder if this race actually did the occasion justice. While O'Brien will be happy with another Derby and nearly €1.4m under his belt, just eight runners, no British challengers and a shock winner hardly adds up to a vintage Irish Derby.
The Curragh authorities will surely be unhappy that there were less than 12,000 present to see it after the €86m upgrade to facilities, and there were less than 4,000 there for the €750,000 Friday card - I could not understand why that was not run as an evening fixture instead of starting at 3.15.
The Derby success certainly rescued the meeting for O'Brien and Ballydoyle which had only one other winner over the three days, Armory (4/7f) under son Donnacha on Thursday.
Ballydoyle was afflicted by 'seconditis' once again.
Ryan Moore had no winner over the three days and had a remarkable five seconds on Saturday, including one for Willie Mullins.
Aidan as a proud dad will be happy that his son Joseph had a treble on Saturday and won the €300,000 Pretty Polly with Iridessa (8/1), beating his Magic Wand (9/2) and Pink Dogwood (11/10) the previous evening.
Jim Bolger had a significant victory on Friday in the €150k Group 2 Comer Group International Curragh Cup.
Kevin Manning made all over one mile, six with an inspired ride on six-year old Twilight Payment (7/1), holding on by a neck from last year's Irish Derby winner, Latrobe (5/2).
Bolger was delighted that his good looking veteran is still improving and he will be aimed now at the final Irish classic of the season, the St. Leger, where he may meet Derby winner, Sovereign. This was a real family success; the horse is a home bred and was running in the colours of Jim's wife, Jackie, while jockey Kevin Manning is married to their daughter, Una.
Bolger also won the €20k Apprentice Derby on Thursday with Trossachs (15/8) under Gavin Ryan.
Meanwhile, Pat Dobbs (Enniscorthy) had five winners in the week, starting off with a terrific 48/1 double at Windsor, with Knight Shield (5/1) and Open Wide (7/1), getting up by a head and a short head in two very tight finishes.
He won by a head again at Bath on Wednesday on Sufi (8/1), and he won at Leicester on Thursday evening in a race that involved three Wexford jockeys.
He was aboard Al Messila (3/1f) for Richard Hannon, with PJ McDonald third on Diviner (7/1), and Jimmy Quinn (New Ross) close up in a bunch behind on Bob's Girl (33/1).
Dobbs made it five back at Windsor on Saturday on Khafooq (4/1) for Robert Cowell. Quinn scored at Chepstow on Monday aboard Glamorous Crescent (4/1f).
PJ McDonald also had five winners in another busy week.
He had seven rides at Newcastle on Friday evening and had an enormous 390/1 double and three seconds, a good return. He won by a neck on Liliofthelamplight for Mark Johnston at a whopping 25/1, and he won the night's £50,000 feature on Richard Fahey's Fool For You (14/1).
He also won with Celestial Force (4/1) at Beverley and at Leicester with Fred (5/1) for Mark Johnston, where he held off Kerrin McEvoy on Godolphin's Law of Peace (2/1) by a nose.