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Derby Report: Eagles gives Padraig Beggy Wings at Epsom

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Sun 4 Jun 2017

Wings Of Eagles swooped to a 40-1 upset in the Investec Derby on Saturday. Watch a full replay, get full reaction from connections via Lydia Hislop's interviews and read Geoffrey Riddle's report from Epsom. 

Beggy became the first rider since Mickael Barzalona, who rode Pour Moi, to win the Derby on his first attempt. The Frenchman famously stood up high in his irons as he crossed the line but Wings Of Eagles came so late to the party to beat Cliffs Of Moher and Ryan Moore by three quarters of a length that Beggy barely had a chance to express himself. Not that he is short of swagger.

“I know I can ride a horse,” he said. “I am far from cocky, but I am confident. It didn’t bother me one bit that I was going out to ride in the Derby.”

It was Beggy’s confidence that was the key to the success. 

O’Brien fielded six runners with Cliffs Of Moher the shortest of the sextet and it was Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil who led him down to the start.

As the gates opened Colm O'Donoghue rousted Douglas Macarthur along to the front and the pairing were quickly pursued by Ana O’Brien, who became just the third woman to ride in the Derby, on The Anvil. 

Beggy only had Benbatl and Oisin Murphy, who slothfully left the gates, behind him during the early stages. 

Beggy got in to racing when Kieren Fallon won the 2000 Guineas aboard Golan and he was wise enough to keep tabs on Ryan Moore, who was also anchored in the rear.

Coming in to the home straight it was clear that a pace collapse was imminent and Moore angled for the clear run down the outside, while Beggy pressed the button but found heavy traffic through the middle.

Moore arrived at the head of the field first to take on Frankie Dettori and the 7-2 favourite Cracksman, and once they had softened each other up, the stage was set for Wings Of Eagles’ unheralded finale. 

“I knew I was going to pass the back half of the field but I wasn’t sure I was going to pass them all,” Beggy said. 

“Two down I thought I was in with a chance and then at the furlong pole I thought I was going to win. I won a shade cosily at the end. It was great feeling to pass all of those horses and some speed.”

The 40-1 chance Wings Of Eagles became the longest-priced winner of the Derby since Snow Knight caused a 50-1 upset in 1974, before Beggy was even born. 

As a son of Pour Moi he may represent the future for Coolmore, and as a grandson of Montjeu, who sired four Derby winners, he at least provides something different to the mighty Galileo.

Surely Coolmore would have preferred Cliffs Of Moher to have won and afterwards it would be fair to say O’Brien was mystified at the result. 

It was a sixth Derby victory for O’Brien from 73 Derby runners, and he put a positive spin on becoming just the 13th trainer to saddle the first two home. 

“Last year we thought he was a nice horse and Seamus (Heffernan) rode him at Chester,” O’Brien said. “He is a horse who travels well and quickens well. With Ryan’s horse we were just slightly worried that he was a bit of a baby and got tired in the last 50 yards.

“When Ryan was getting to the front, we could see that Padraig was staying and we thought his horse would get a bit further than a mile and a half.”

Wings Of Eagles is now the 5-1 favourite for the St Leger in September and could well renew rivalry with his stable companion in the Irish Derby on July 1.  

Cracksman, who was third, and Eminent, who was fourth, could also cross the Irish Sea.

Few had heard of Padraig Beggy before Saturday. Many more will know his name before the season is out.

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