cape blanco winning the irish derby
cape blanco winning the irish derby

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Cape Blanco winning the 2010 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Gr1)

(Photo : Racing Post - Footage : At The Races)


27 June 2010

The Curragh was the scene of a historical training achievement on Sunday as Aidan O’Brien became the first trainer to win five consecutive renewals of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (G1) courtesy of Derrick Smith’sCape Blanco (Ire) (Galileo). For good measure, the 7-2 second favorite led home stable companionsMidas Touch (GB) (Galileo) and Jan Vermeer (Ire) (Montjeu) at half-length and 1 1/2-length intervals as he put an unplaced effort in the June 6 Prix du Jockey Club (G1) firmly behind him. Settled in fourth early off the fast pace set by the stable rabbits, the chestnut put it up to Midas Touch at the top of the stretch and after gaining the edge before the furlong marker toughed it out to prove jockey Johnny Murtagh right in his choice. “All the horses ran great and all credit to everybody for getting them all there.”

Cape Blanco was always at the forefront of the Ballydoyle juvenile ranks in 2009 and went unbeaten in three starts with varying degrees of style. After a workmanlike debut success over seven furlongs at Fairyhouse in June, he went to Leopardstown for the Tyros Stakes (G3) the following month and displayed panache under positive tactics. A month later, he was back at Fairyhouse for the Futurity Stakes (G2) - diverted from this venue -  and had to pull out the stops to satisfy the bridge-jumpers at 1-5, prompting connections to point to the testing ground for that less-than-flattering effort. With bounce back in the surface at York on his belated return, he saw off Workforce (GB) (King’s Best) at odds with his equipment in the May 13 Dante Stakes (G2), and it was a case of divergent fortunes for the first two home thereafter.

Just 24 hours after the runner-up had blasted himself into immortality at Epsom, Cape Blanco was delivering a first disappointing performance when out the back in the Chantilly equivalent and he entered this race with a point to prove. “The last day was a blip on this horse’s card and we couldn’t understand it, but this is great for everybody,” commented Aidan O’Brien.

O’Brien was welcoming back an eighth Irish Derby winner in total, with seven of those coming since Johnny Murtagh’s decision to desert Jan Vermeer in his favor suggested Ballydoyle were expecting a turnaround from the French flop, and it was evident early on here that he was a different proposition to the languid version seen last time. As the stable’s Bright Horizon (GB) (Galileo) provided the lead-out with the Epsom runner-up At First Sight (Ire) (Galileo) and Midas Touch behind, Cape Blanco sat in the clear in fourth. When Colm O’Donoghue committed Midas Touch at the top of the straight, Murtagh opted to cover the move. Despite Seamus Heffernan and Jan Vermeer briefly threatening up the rail, it was Cape Blanco and Midas Touch who had it between them, and the latter was gradually subdued from a furlong out.

“Johnny gave him a brilliant ride, and I’m just delighted to be part of it,” O’Brien added. “They all ran stormers. It wasn’t the horse that we knew in France, and maybe it was the travel and the first day away in the heat like that, but something upset him. Today, he left it all behind him, and we saw all the class and courage that we always thought was there. We always thought if things went well here, we’d look at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot July 24.”

The supplemented Monterosso (GB) (Dubawi), sent off  the 3-1 favorite, was sending out distress signals before the straight, but stayed on strongly under Frankie Dettori to be fourth.

Trainer Mark Johnston said of Monterosso, “I have to be honest and say we didn’t come to be fourth, but at the same time there were no excuses. Frankie said it was either a bridge too far and we were expecting too much of him - and maybe when I go back and look at the form of his Royal Ascot race I’ll say that’s his form - or, hopefully, it just came a little bit too soon (after his win in the King Edward VII Stakes (G2)) and there is more to come from him later in the year.”

This was also the second time that Ballydoyle representatives had filled the first three places in this Classic after Soldier of Fortune (Ire) (Galileo) spearheaded the trifecta just three years ago.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News