IT all changed on a Tuesday. An Irish Derby that looked like a typical Irish Derby turned into an atypical Irish Derby, with the surprise supplementary entry of Oaks heroine Tuesday, though maybe it wasn’t a huge surprise.
Tuesday earned a free shot at the Irish Derby by winning the Oaks so even though the Coolmore partners have had to stump up €50,000 this week, that will be refunded through the race’s ‘Win and You’re In’ scheme, which has come up trumps on this occasion. The Ballydoyle colts looked outclassed in the Derby so why not have a go with this filly, as she can also take up the more conventional target of the Irish Oaks in three weeks time.
She bids to become the first filly winner since Balanchine in 1994, who made it two filly wins in five years following Salsabil’s success in 1990. Only four have been tried since Balanchine: Token Gesture and Strawberry Roan were well held in 1997, Qualify fared best when sixth in 2015 and the New York Girl was seventh in 2019.
Tuesday, a full sister to multiple Group 1 winner Minding, just held off Emily Upjohn in the Oaks, in a contest that tested speed more than usual, with something of a sprint finish down the straight. Intriguingly, Aidan O’Brien has deciced to rely solely on her today. She is also bidding to give Ryan Moore his first Irish Derby win - this will be his 10th attempt.
Westover is a far more identifiable potential Irish Derby winner, given the history of the race. Since the millenium, 10 Irish Derby winners were beaten at Epsom, six of which were second or third. Hence the reference to what would have been a typical looking Irish Derby, had it not been for Tuesday’s inclusion.
The Ralph Beckett-trained colt was third, but morally second best at Epsom. He got checked twice when trying to challenge and then his rider Rob Hornby had to loop around a number of runners to get him into the clear.
Hornby has been replaced by Colin Keane today, a decision that has upset plenty this week but looks perfectly logical given Keane’s course know-how and general talent. If it turns tactical, Westover’s guidance won’t be lacking from the saddle.
It requires a bit of imagination to see any other horse involved for win purposes but a case can be made for a few. Hannibal Barca won the Gallinule, despite looking fresh and edgy, ducking in late on, and he’s bound to improve from that. Joseph O’Brien ran Latrobe in the Gallinule prior to his win here in 2018.
Piz Badile was disappointing at Epsom but it’s not a big leap of faith to expect a much better performance today. Frozen Fire (2008) and Sovereign (2019) were both well beaten in the Derby before turning their form right around. The forecast rain might help Donnacha O’Brien’s colt. It would also probably help Paddy Twomey’s French Claim, who looked overpriced at 33/1 yesterday evening.
There is no real recent precedence for a horse like Lionel, who won the Cocked Hat Stakes last time out and skipped the Derby to come here. David Menusier’s colt is unexposed though, so shouldn’t be completely written off.
PADDY Twomey has just been doing Paddy Twomey-type things this season, but even by his precise and potent standards, this year has been brilliant so far.
With 17 winners in Ireland already, he has already equalled last year’s total. Without looking at the stats, you’d assume that number was derived from an increased amount of runners - because of his success - but you’d be assuming wrong. Twomey has got to 17 winners this year with fewer runners than it took him last year, 48 in all, which means he’s operating at extremely healthy win rate of 35%.
And it’s not like he’s winning handy races. The majority of his winners have come in maidens and five of them have been at listed level or above, with Pearls Galore landing him a second Group 2 success on Irish Guineas weekend.
A Group 1 winner nearly seams inevitable given the Tipperary trainer’s progression. He has three chances this weekend, French Claim, who is an outsider in the Irish Derby today, and two for the Pretty Polly Stakes tomorrow - La Petite Coco and the supplemented Rosscarbery.
“La Petite Coco had a great year last year and she is in really good form,” Twomey told The Irish Field yesterday. “We’ve lots of nice races planned for her this season and she’s ready to start off her campaign. I think she is versatile with regards to ground but she does have form on softer ground, so any rain would be very welcome.”
La Petite Coco won the Blandford Stakes over the Pretty Polly course and distance, beating Love in the process, which looks like Group 1 form. She was edging favouritism for the race yesterday evening.
Rosscarbery has been a revelation this year, winning all four of her starts since joining Twomey - yet another piece of evidence for her trainer’s talents. She was supplemented for this race at a cost of €30,000, but earned that right, according to the trainer.
“Rosscarbery is pretty versatile as well, she has won on quick ground, on soft ground and on the all-weather. She has earned the right to have a go at this race having come right up through the ranks, so we’re happy to let her take her chance. She is training very well and continues to be in good form.”