Thursday 14 December 2017

Beggy comes from drugs ban to claim Derby win

Thumbs up: Padraig Beggy and Aidan O’Brien enjoy their Derby spoils. Photo: John Walton/PA
Thumbs up: Padraig Beggy and Aidan O’Brien enjoy their Derby spoils. Photo: John Walton/PA

Oliver Brown

With one thunderous surge, Padraig Beggy propelled himself out of left field and into the light. Never mind Wings Of Eagles, this effervescent, fast-talking son of Co Kildare had been thrust into the Derby on a wing and a prayer. And yet with glorious improbability, as his mount tore past vaunted stablemate Cliffs Of Moher in the dying strides, he ended up clutching the most glittering prize in Flat racing.

It seems remarkable to think that one of Beggy's few previous winners had come in a £7,000 race at Killarney. One could not have guessed at the scale of Beggy's elevation from listening to trainer Aidan O'Brien as he described his jockey as a "world-class rider, strong, with a great mind and tactically very aware".

Close your eyes and he could have been talking about Frankie Dettori, rather than a 31-year-old journeyman whose greatest previous claim to fame was failing a drug test.

Back in 2014, Beggy found himself at a personal and professional nadir. He had headed to Australia in a remote last tilt at proving his talents, only to be suspended for 15 months for a positive urine sample that showed traces of cocaine, as well as giving false evidence.

Beggy had first claimed the cocaine result came as a consequence of an anaesthetic used by his dentist, then tried to argue that it was due to the ingestion of coca leaves provided by a friend. Finally, he confessed that he had taken the drug at a barbecue three nights prior to the Kembla Grange trials near Sydney.

Foolishly, the Irishman compounded his offence by lying about his whereabouts, leaving the Australian authorities little choice but to throw the book at him. For almost all of 2015 he was banned, with any aspirations of advancing his career apparently scattered to the wind.

"Yeah, I got into a bit of trouble - it was a bad mistake," Beggy reflected. "I got knocked down and I picked myself up. The only priority for me was to get my licence back. I said to my brother, 'This won't be the last time you hear of me'."

By merciful quirk of fate, Beggy rallied from his disgrace Down Under to grasp an opportunity at the feet of the biggest of them all, in O'Brien.

Although down the pecking order of O'Brien's jockeys, he provided a glimpse of gifts in April by winning a Group Three at Leopardstown on Hydrangea. It was hardly the pedigree of a Derby winner in waiting, though. "To be honest, I had nearly given up on the big time, but Aidan has made it happen," Beggy said, grinning. "It's happy days."

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Sunday Indo Sport

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport