A red-letter day for Ralph Beckett, who won the Irish Derby with Westover and helped Frankie Dettori prove a point as he prepares to take a sabbatical from his role as stable jockey to John & Thady Gosden.
The rides that the punters’ darling lost from Clarehaven didn’t win anyway, so that should only add to the satisfaction of Lezoo landing the Empress Fillies’ Stakes. Might some loftier targets at Newmarket races be in her future?
Westover Turns Irish Derby into Procession
Jocking off riders is a hot topic right now. You must feel for Rob Hornby, regular pilot of Westover. Colin Keane, his replacement in the saddle, will have to go some to steer an easier Classic winner after Irish Derby glory at the Curragh provided Beckett with an across horse racing jurisdictions double.
A depleted field and misfiring Aidan O’Brien filly Tuesday not even hitting the frame saw this colt run away with things in the Juddmonte silks. Sent off joint-favourite by the best betting sites and bookies, Westover was 7lb clear of anything else apart from the Ballydoyle runner. He won by seven lengths, again showing strong stamina in the final furlong to pull clear of the field.
Westover still shapes like a St Leger type to me yet, before going up in trip, could there be a rematch with Desert Crown come the King George, the next of the big Ascot races, in four weeks’ time? This wasn’t a vintage renewal of the Irish Derby but a gift for connections.
Tuesday Went to the Well Once too Often?
It could’ve been a case of one Classic too many – a fourth in 55 days and fifth run of the campaign – for Tuesday. O’Brien and “the lads” had colts entered, including Lingfield winner United Nations, but withdrew them and instead put all their eggs in one supplemented basket.
Just like Bolshoi Ballet in last year’s Epsom Derby, this in hindsight looks a big error from the Ballydoyle and Coolmore bigwig connections, especially when the mob-handed approach has always served so well. Tuesday could benefit from a midsummer break with some seven weeks until the Yorkshire Oaks.
There is the Irish Oaks in mid-July before that, but O’Brien knows this has already been a busy campaign for her. The bookies had no problem easing Tuesday out for her potential engagement at York races with unlucky Epsom Oaks second Emily Upjohn now favourite to reverse the form.
Trueshan Carries all Before Him at Newcastle
Performance of the day was neither Frankie at Headquarters, nor Westover in the Emerald Isle but Trueshan under top weight the Northumberland Plate. The big betting handicap on the Flat at Newcastle races switched to the All-Weather a few years back, and the champion stayer put this prize firmly on the map once again.
When we think of big weight carrying performances, the mind is drawn to grainy images of Arkle, Flyingbolt and Red Rum in steeplechases. Trueshan, unable to run at Royal Ascot because of his hatred of sound surfaces, instead got lumbered with the welter burden of 10st 8lbs in “the Pitman’s Derby”.
The only thing akin to it in modern times in either code of horse racing on our shores was Denman’s second Hennessy Gold Cup triumph off top weight. Undeterred by the prospect of conceding 19lbs and upwards all-round, Alan King ran his Flat flagbearer in the Plate for a second consecutive season.
Well-Supported & Goodwood Cup Defence May be Next
Undaunted by the task facing Hollie Doyle, a potential successor to Frankie at the Gosdens’ stables according to the market, punters backed Trueshan off the boards. Sent off the 3/1 favourite on horse racing betting sites after a sustained gamble, he prevailed by half-a-length in cosy fashion conceding two whole stone to the runner-up and 30lbs to the third home.
It would be almost uncharitable to say that this was a proven Group 1 performer (in the right conditions) beating a bunch of middling at best handicappers. Never mind that only two other horses in the Northumberland Plate field had an official rating of over 100.
Trueshan is ground dependent on turf, so needs rain in late July if he’s to make a defence of his Glorious Goodwood Cup crown. Should the weather remain dry, then it won’t be until autumn when we see him again with races like the Doncaster Cup, Prix du Cadran in France and Long Distance Cup at Ascot likely on his agenda.
Valley Forge Ebor Hopes Take a Knock
Class rather than a massive difference in weight at Gosforth Park told. Even those getting huge chunks of it were reeled it by Trueshan after arguably hitting the front too soon. And that brings us back around to the point about criticising jockeys.
Newcastle’s feature Flat race saw another well-fancied runner in Valley Forge, the first horse to qualify for this summer’s Ebor at York no less, finish out of the places. He raced prominently but had no answer for the closers or the might of Trueshan despite a big receipt of 27lbs.
Horses held up didn’t get into this big field event last year. Connections of Rainbow Dreamer thus tried something different. Racing off a 12lb lower mark, he could only come ninth. Too far off the pace 12 months ago and up with it only to be shot at for too much of and ultimately down in this renewal.
Northumberland Plate Highlights How Fine Margins are for Riders
Jockeys are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The Pitman’s Derby tells us that it’s not just Dettori who can misjudge rides in big races. All jockeys walk a tightrope, balancing run styles of their mounts and how they themselves ride best.
Criticism comes if they commit too soon and get caught or challenge too late and don’t hit the front in time. Only the winning ride is a good one. Barring a dead heat, that leaves everyone else disappointed. Who’d be a jockey?
As for the winners, Doyle blew a kiss to the camera before hauling her laden saddle to weigh in. Dettori did his flying dismount after proving a point and now heads off to ride abroad. Keane revelled in running away with the premier Irish Classic.
Bring on next week and Sandown races, where it’s the Eclipse and the first clash of generations.