Ballydoyle land clean sweep of Curragh riches with Treasure
Monday 27 June 2011
So no change there, then. The dominance by Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore Stud owner partnerships of the elite Irish racing scene, and of their country's premier Classic in particular, continued yesterday when Treasure Beach became the sixth successive Irish Derby winner, and the ninth in all, to emerge from Ballydoyle.
And, in beating his stablemates Seville and Memphis Tennessee, the son of Galileo gave his trainer a remarkable fourth clean sweep of the places, and a second in succession. It is not quite men against boys; that would grossly denigrate the talents of O'Brien's colleagues and rivals in Ireland. But it does seem a long time since the days of Alamshar and Grey Swallow, whose trainers John Oxx and Dermot Weld possibly feel that they are not so much banging their heads against a brick wall as being actively attacked by a cliff.
The Co Tipperary operation's hegemony in yesterday's contest may have been aided by its not, these days, automatically being the target for the winner of the original Derby. Since O'Brien won with the Epsom-winning pair of Galileo and High Chaparral, only North Light has tried to follow up, leaving the Curragh contest a perfect opening to bring compensation and Group One glory to those not daunted by confirming a potential stallion's stamina for a mile and a half.
Four of O'Brien's previous Irish Derby winners had run at Epsom; Treasure Beach, beaten a head by Pour Moi earlier this month, followed Fame And Glory (also second), Frozen Fire (11th), Soldier Of Fortune (fifth) and Dylan Thomas (third) to instant redemption.
It was one of the world's most successful owner-breeders, the Aga Khan, who opined that numbers turn possibility into probability and, O'Brien having supplied four of yesterday's field of eight, it is a point well made. But none of the Ballydoyle quartet headed the market; punters most fancied the chances of the Epsom third Carlton House and sent him off 5-4 favourite.
On an afternoon that had settled to sweltering heat, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt grew warm in the preliminaries but not nearly as much as Treasure Beach, whose belly and flanks were awash with gobbets of white sweat and whose rider Colm O'Donoghue kicked his feet from the irons before the start, riding casual and long-legged to keep his mount calm.
In the race, the O'Brien squad largely controlled proceedings from the off. Memphis Tennessee, as he did before running fourth at Epsom, led the way, with O'Brien's son Joseph setting perfect fractions, followed by Seville and, early on, the Weld candidate Notable Graduate.
By the turn for home, Treasure Beach had moved to third spot, with Carlton House in his wake. Seville, with Seamie Heffernan in the saddle, went for home early in the straight – the Curragh was much more to his taste than the contours of the Surrey Downs – but O'Donoghue had plenty of horse under him and powered past to take the spoils by three-quarters of a length.
O'Brien has had 63 representatives in the past 16 runnings of this race and used 21 different riders. But this was a first Irish Derby for O'Donoghue, at last a reward for his services as one of Ballydoyle's most valued team players.
Memphis Tennessee galloped on gallantly to reverse Epsom places with Carlton House, who had his chance but did not stay on as stoutly as the first three on tacky enough ground. But the other British raider, Native Khan, never threatened and came in seventh.
The deployment of the O'Brien three-year old colts in the future will be discussed in due course, against a backdrop of the stable also having two top older middle-distance prospects, So You Think, on target for Saturday's Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, and St Nicholas Abbey, the perceived number one for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes later next month at Ascot.
The trainer was just pleased enough that everything went to plan yesterday. "The Epsom form stood up well," he said, "and I was pleased that Seville, who had puzzled us at Epsom, came back to his best. The plan was to make it a good even pace, which suited everyone. Colm was excellent on Treasure Beach, he settled him beautifully and produced him brilliantly."
Treasure Beach may head to France in mid-July for the Grand Prix de Paris – now, since the Prix du Jockey-Club's reduction to 10 furlongs, the best Gallic equivalent to a Derby – on Bastille Day. "After that the King George could be an option," said O'Brien, "but we might give him a break then."
The bookmakers issued assorted prices for the O'Brien troops for assorted races – the King George, the Arc, the St Leger – after yesterday's race. And William Hill have already opted for no change at the Curragh next year either, going 6-4 against a 10th O'Brien Irish Derby in 12 months' time.
Aidan O'Brien's Irish Derby record
(other stables in italics)
2011 1st Treasure Beach 7-2 2nd Seville 5-1 3rd Memphis Tennessee 10-1
2010 1 Cape Blanco 7-2 2 Midas Touch 9-2 3 Jan Vermeer
2009 1 Fame And Glory 8-11f 2 Golden Sword 11-1 3 Mourayan 8-1
2008 1 Frozen Fire 16-1 2 Casual Conquest 4-1 3 Alessandro Volta 7-1
2007 1 Soldier Of Fortune 5-1 2 Alexander Of Hales 33-1 3 Eagle Mountain 6-4f
2006 1 Dylan Thomas 9-2f 2 Gentlewave 11-2 3 Best Alibi 9-1
2005 1 Hurricane Run 4-5f 2 Scorpion 25-1 3 Shalapour 16-1
2004 1 Grey Swallow 10-1 2 North Light 8-11f 3 Tycoon 150-1
2003 1 Alamshar 4-1 2 Dalakhani 4-7f 3 Roosevelt 150-1
2002 1 High Chaparral 1-3f 2 Sholokhov 200-1 3 Ballingarry 12-1
2001 1 Galileo 4-11f 2 Morshdi 20-1 3 Golan 4-1
2000 1 Sinndar 11-10f 2 Glyndebourne 16-1 3 Ciro 20-1
1999 1 Montjeu 13-8f 2 Daliapour 4-1 3 Tchaikovsky 16-1
1998 1 Dream Well 2-1f 2 City Honours 4-1 3 Desert Fox 40-1
1997 1 Desert King 11-2 2 Dr Johnson 12-1 3 Loup Sauvage 8-1
1996 1 Zagreb 20-1 2 Polaris Flight 7-1 3 His Excellence 50-1
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Entitled (3.45 Pontefract)
Well-related filly who won last time despite her run through the race. She is likely to progress.
* Next best
York Glory (4.45 Pontefract)
Showed enough in his first effort in both handicap company and on turf to indicate he may still be on a generous mark.
* One to watch
Tweedledrum (Andrew Balding) was doing her best work in the closing stages at Carlisle last week. She can improve again with a greater test of stamina.
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