THE imposing Westover (117+) turned Saturday’s Irish Derby at the Curragh into a procession with a display of powerful galloping, fulfilling the impression he created at Epsom when eventually in the clear.

Colin Keane could not have kept it simpler as he tracked the pace set by French Claim (107) before sending his mount for home as the field passed the three-furlong marker.

Striding out impressively all the way to the line, the son of Frankel covered the ground in 36.54secs to post the fastest time figure of the day on the round track while also improving on his rating when beaten by Desert Crown.

A deeper look into the sectionals portray the Juddmonte-owned colt ran the closing stages evenly as he posted four successive sub-12sec furlongs from the five-furlong marker, before a final furlong of 12.68secs.


In comparison, his nearest rival Piz Badile (110) completed the final furlong in 13.10secs as part of his closing sectional of 36.82secs, illustrating the winner’s superiority in the closing stages, although the data also suggests Donnacha O’Brien’s colt was not as inferior as the winning margin of seven lengths suggests.

Tuesday (106+) was in an impossible position as the race developed, with Hannibal Barca compounding the position of the Oaks heroine as his challenge held her in a pocket behind the fading Lionel.

However, even when Ryan Moore found clear sailing, she failed to shine with her finishing effort, closing off in 36.78secs.

Most notably at Epsom the daughter of Galileo strung together successive sub-11sec furlongs in the closing stages; on Saturday her fastest furlong was 11.60secs which, even considering the differing conditions, indicates this was not the same filly who impressed in the Oaks.

There is no doubt the pace was stronger on Saturday, compared to Epsom, although I would be inclined to lean more towards this being her fourth classic of the season as the reason for the below-par performance.

It will be interesting to see if Aidan O’Brien decides to roll the dice again in the Irish Oaks next month.


The winner has all options open to him, including a possible rematch with his Epsom conqueror next on his agenda. Saturday’s time figure still leaves Ralph Beckett’s colt with a small amount of ground to make up on Desert Crown (118+ Epsom), although it may well be negated by having him race more prominently.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Derby winner will have to be at his Derby best to confirm the form, even before considering the opposition from their elders.

If Ralph Beckett decides to launch his colt at the St Leger, I would have no doubt he would emulate Hurricane Lane who won at the Curragh last year before adding to his classic success on Town Moor.

Celebrating Wexford

The high-class action on the round track started with the Celebration Stakes and the victory of Wexford Native (110+) who put his St James’s Palace Stakes run behind him with a last-gasp success over The Acropolis.

Kevin Manning looked to be hard at work from the three-furlong marker, so it was a surprise to see the closing sectionals so swift compared to the Derby.

Wexford Native stopped the clock at 34.77secs for the concluding sectional to enhance his time figure, albeit still leaving him short of the achievements of the Derby principals.

The Acropolis (110) has found winning difficult, although on this occasion he looked to have made all the right moves only to be pounced on late by the winner.

Aidan O’Brien’s colt clocked 34.95secs for the final three furlongs on his first attempt at a mile on home soil and remaining at that trip could prove the key to the son of Churchill adding to his sole victory.

Emphatic Answer (108) would have benefitted from a stronger gallop and may also be served better by the demands of the straight track.

Raadobarg (107+) posted 34.46secs for his closing sectional which was the fastest of the field. I suggest Johnny Murtagh’s colt will be back to winning ways when he encounters soft ground again.

Aikhal’s form

Aikhal (114) boosted the St James’s Palace Stakes form again with a comprehensive victory in the ARM Holding International Stakes, recording a time-figure almost the equivalent of the Derby when adjusted for distance.

Unfortunately, with the sectional times only in a testing phase they were not available so it was back to the stopwatch to compare the finishing effort of Aidan O’Brien’s winner with the other two high-class winners.

The son of Galileo went through the final three furlongs in 36.05secs, which compared with 36.19secs for Westover and 35.35secs for Wexford Native.

The race also marked a return to form for Duke De Sesa (109) who closed best of those held up and my timings have Dermot Weld’s colt finishing his race in 36.20secs.

Bengal’s victory

Bay Of Bengal (91+) completed the winners on the round track with a neck victory over Magic Chegaga in a slowly run handicap. For the record Willie McCreery’s filly recorded a hand-timed closing sectional of 35.38secs.

Night Of Romance (103) produced the best time performance on the straight track with victory in the Summer Fillies Handicap.

In truth it was a straightforward task for Joseph O’Brien’s filly, who responded instantly when Dylan Brown McMonagle asked her to seal the race passing the furlong marker.

A closing sectional from the course intersection of 36.14secs saw the daughter Night Of Thunder home in a race where the only performance of note came from the second placed, Needle Lace (99).

Teresa improves

The opening race on the card saw Teresa Mendoza (99) go a place better than last year to win the Listed Dash Stakes.

The feature of the race was the first two home occupying the last two places at halfway, which suggests the pace collapsed in front of them and is confirmed by a slow overall time.

Nevertheless, the winner still required a closing sectional of 36.74secs to prevail from Prisoner’s Dilemma (98) who continues in a rich vein of form.


The remaining two races produced slow time figures with Premier Handicap winner Fastnet Crown (90) marginally quicker than Shartash (86), who won a disappointing Group 2 Railway Stakes on the clock.