Oh no, what now?
After a Derby nightmare for Jim Bolger, a Derby dream. Last night at the Curragh, the 6-1 chance Trading Leather put to bed the memory of his stablemate Dawn Approach’s awful last place at Epsom with a convincing victory in Ireland’s premier Classic.
No less than any other walk of life, it is pretty rare in racing for anyone to profess indignation when credited with a stroke of genius. Such was the case at Epsom last month, however, when Aidan O’Brien and his patrons at Coolmore maintained a scrupulous show of bemusement about a theory that their horses had collectively undermined the prospects of the hot favourite, Dawn Approach, by setting an unexpectedly slow pace in the Investec Derby.
Family rivalry is all very well, but perhaps not if you blatantly upstage the head honcho. After Libertarian ran such a fine second in the Derby, he was headhunted by Sheikh Mohammed to run for his Godolphin operation and is second favourite for Saturday's Irish version of the Classic. Today, though, Mohammed's cousin and namesake (their respective fathers, Rashid and Khalifa, were brothers) recruited another of the fancied runners in the Curragh contest, Sugar Boy, to his own string.
He would not have the class, surely, or the speed. He isn't even the right shape. But the sudden squall of hail prompted by his success here suggested that Libertarian, if nothing else, will introduce due grit to the British Turf's greatest race. For his shock success in the trial that honours the North's last winner – now 68 years ago – plainly qualified this big, dour brute as a fitting ambassador for Yorkshire in the Investec Derby a fortnight tomorrow.
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