It was not quite the breeze that many expected, but Hurricane Run, the 4-5 favourite, duly won the 140th Irish Derby here yesterday. In so doing the André Fabre-trained colt, acquired just two weeks ago by the prescient John Magnier for the Coolmore empire, gave Kieren Fallon his first victory in the premier contest of the land of his birth.
But there was so nearly a sting in the tale as Scorpion, the despised outsider from Fallon's regular stable, Ballydoyle, pushed the crack from France all the way. The margin of victory was just half a length.
The man in the saddle, though, said he was never in doubt; on a blazing hot day he produced the coolest and most confident of rides. As Brahminy Kite, one of the two British raiders, and Scorpion diced up front, Fallon kept Hurricane Run off the pace and to the outside of a field grimly reduced from nine to eight after two furlongs. At that point Gypsy King, the Aidan O'Brien first string, fatally shattered a shoulder.
In the straight Scorpion took over at the head of affairs and set sail for the line. Fallon, with six lengths to find off the turn, identified his target, showed his own mount daylight, aimed, and fired. Hurricane Run instantly engaged overdrive and cruised past the pack with authority. Although more urgent questions were forthcoming in the final drive to the line, the reply from the son of Montjeu was always in the affirmative.
"I knew I was on the best horse in the race," said Fallon, who had not met Hurricane Run before he was legged-up in the parade ring, "so I was not so worried about saving ground in behind horses. The horse travels for fun and he can quicken, but I didn't know him and I wanted the clearest run round, even if it might not have been the best route.
"Having seen the videos and listened to those who knew him better than me, I thought he was probably a bit like his sire. Very, very good, but a bit leery, a bit idle in front. But when I got hold of him he did everything I wanted. The feeling is there is more to come."
This season has been a splendid homecoming for the prodigal. In his first season with the Ballydoyle team, the former British champion has won both the Newmarket Guineas, and now his local Derby. Perhaps life really does begin at his age, 40.
"Maybe I could have ridden a better race," added Fallon, who was beaten on another odds-on favourite, North Light, last year. "I feel like I covered the whole of the Curragh but I wanted to be sure of winning and not risk getting trapped on the inside. For years I have dreamed about winning this race, ever since I started as an apprentice with Kevin Prendergast down the road. It means everything."
Hurricane Run, who won 745,000 euro (£500,000), was competing for the last time in the green and red colours of his German breeder, Deitrich von Boetticher, coincidentally those worn by Fallon on the first Group One winner of his career, the filly Borgia. In future he will be Coolmore through and through, though he will remain in training with Fabre in Chantilly.
Fallon expressed a bring-on-Motivator sentiment afterwards, but the meeting of the two major European Derby winners will have to wait until Paris in October. Hurricane Run's next assignment will be the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which he is now 5-1 favourite. "It is always an anxious time until the race is over," said Fabre, winning his second Irish Derby 10 years after Winged Love gave him his first, "but this is a push-button horse. He will now have a summer break and will probably not run again until the Arc."
Scorpion - on whom Fallon had finished second-last in the French Derby when Christophe Soumillon-ridden Hurricane Run was second - exceeded expectations, and is now 3-1 favourite for the St Leger. The final Classic is also the target of the two behind him, four-length third Shalapour and Brahminy Kite. Inexperienced Bahar Shumal, the other British representative, ran a creditable fifth but the disappointment was the second favourite, Walk In The Park, runner-up at Epsom, who ran free and scoped badly afterwards.
The result was a remarkable one for Montjeu, the rising star among the Coolmore stallion ranks. After his one-two at Epsom with Motivator and Walk In The Park, he repeated the feat, for Scorpion is also a son.
But it was a rollercoaster day for O'Brien. Before the Derby, he took his seventh Railway Stakes with Fallon-ridden George Washington, now confirmed as early favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas, but much-fancied Yeats finished unplaced in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud behind his Coronation Cup victim Alkaased, trained by Luca Cumani.Reuse content