As can often be the case, the race didn’t live up to the billing. What am I referring to? Why, last Sunday’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh. Favourite New Approach didn’t make it to post as trainer Jim Bolger announced on Friday evening that he wasn’t 100% happy with his charge’s condition and the son of Galileo was eventually withdrawn from the race on Sunday morning.
Consequently, the race developed into an anti-climax. Bolger’s former protégé Aidan O’Brien certainly wasn’t complaining as he saddled his sixth Irish Derby winner in the form of Frozen Fire, a German-bred son of Montjeu, who arrived late and fast on the scene with Seamie Heffernan to eclipse Dermot Weld’s Epsom Derby third Casual Conquest by two lengths. Favourite Tartan Bearer, having originally finished fourth, was later promoted to third after a stewards enquiry.
For jockey Heffernan it was a second Irish Derby victory as he also guided Soldier Of Fortune to victory for Aidan O’Brien in the event 12 months ago.
Ballydoyle maestro O’Brien certainly had an afternoon to savour as he also collected the session’s main supporting race, the Group 2 One 51 Railway Stakes with odds-on favourite Mastercraftsman.
By Danehill Dancer, Mastercraftsman ultimately beat Alhaban by a short head with an additional neck back to recent Royal Ascot runner-up Intense Focus.
The festival season kicks off later this week as the three-day Bellewstown meeting gets under way in Co Meath at 5.55pm on Thursday.
Connie Mac stands out in the opening Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden over five furlongs.
The Andy Oliver-trained Connie Mac was beaten four lengths into second spot by Shimah in a six-furlong maiden at The Curragh in early June.
Just 11 days later, she stepped up noticeably by finishing third in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes over five furlongs at Royal Ascot. Connie Mac was beaten just a neck and a head altogether by Langs Lash and Shyrl and she’s taken to attain a valuable winning bracket here by disposing of Call The Law.
Shot Of The Day will surely go close in the Bellewstown Golfcourse Handicap Hurdle. This Francis Flood-trained six-year-old stepped up on his previous efforts by justifying strong market support to win a two and a half mile Tralee handicap on May 24th. Shot Of The Day ultimately made all the running on that occasion with Mark Walsh and the likelihood is that the Flood inmate should have most to fear from the mare Manorville.
Our Eric appeals as the most likely winner of the Balbriggan Retail Park Hurdle.
Trained by Cecil Ross, who is experiencing a terrific run of success with his small string at present, Our Eric won his most recent start by gamely leading in the shadow of the post to beat Paddy The Ref by three parts of a length in a two and a half mile Ballinrobe maiden hurdle in late May. Whilst this reflects a mammoth step up in class, Our Eric is likely to possess too many aces for Mustangsallyrally.