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Santiago leads home a 1-2-3-4 for Aidan O'Brien in the Irish Derby at the Curragh

Sat 27 Jun 2020

Watch how the Royal Ascot winner held on by a head to provide Aidan O'Brien with his fourteenth victory in the Curragh Classic plus reaction from the Ballydoyle maestro and winning-jockey Seamie Heffernan.

Santiago was a 14th winner of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby for Aidan O’Brien – who trained the first four home in this year’s Classic at the Curragh.

Santiago, successful in last week’s Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, justified 2-1 favouritism to win by a head from stablemate Tiger Moth, with Dawn Patrol third and Order Of Australia back in fourth.

Seamie Heffernan held Santiago up well off the pace in a race run in deteriorating conditions as the weather closed in.

But they swept through runners from two and a half furlongs out to take over from another O’Brien contender, Iberia, and went clear before holding off the significant late challenge delivered by Emmet McNamara on Tiger Moth.

The winning margin diminished towards the post, but Santiago stuck to the task well, passing the line a head in front.

O'Brien told RTE: "Santiago is a lovely, straightforward horse. He likes to take his time in his races and Seamus got a lovely run through and stayed very well.

"I think so (go for the St Leger), it looks a lovely race for him. We have the second and the third there too, so we will see what the lads want to do.

"They are two lovely horses (Tiger Moth and Dawn Patrol) and are two babies, they are progressing. In a month's time they will be even better we think."

He added: "Seamus is a great fella, lots of experience and works hard. We are delighted for him. He knows the horses very well.

"Great credit to everyone for getting it on and getting racing back."

Heffernan, winning the race for the fourth time, said: "He's a tough horse - a mile and six (in the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot) back to a mile and a half in the Curragh really suited me. I was always comfortable. "I would have liked to have had a better draw and a cleaner slot, but it worked out.

"It wasn't an ideal draw and I took a gamble in dropping him in, but if you go forward and you get trapped wide he's a horse that gets competitive. He wants to go and race and win."

Coolmore's MV Magnier, speaking by Zoom video link, said: "I'm delighted for Seamus. I didn't realise that he's 47, but he's riding very well and has been working in Ballydoyle for a long time. He deserves it.

"The Irish Derby is the pinnacle of Irish racing. It is a stallion-making race and many great champions have won it over the years."

SIR DRAGONET NO MATCH FOR BUCKHURST

Watch a full replay of the Alleged Stakes

Buckhurst led throughout as Joseph O’Brien interrupted his father Aidan’s winning run in the Dubai Duty Free Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Alleged Stakes.

O’Brien senior had been the successful trainer in the previous two runnings of the Group Three at the Curragh, and was represented this time by odds-on favourite Sir Dragonet.

It was Joseph, however, who supplied this year’s winner of the 10-furlong contest which featured just three runners – completed by his own Numerian.

Wayne Lordan made the pace from the outset on Buckhurst – and when his two rivals came to challenge, the 13-8 second-favourite held off the challenge of both Sir Dragonet and Numerian, in that order, by a length and a half.

Buckhurst was chalking up his third course-and-distance victory at this level, having also beaten an odds-on Sir Dragonet here last August in the Royal Whip Stakes.

His trainer said: “He ran a good race in Navan (a narrow second, earlier this month) and he was unlucky not to win. It was just a bob of the heads.

“He’s come forward and going back to 10 furlongs suited him.

“He’s always been a good horse, but it’s nice to get him back on track. He’s uncomplicated and well able to go along (in front). Wayne gave him a lovely ride.

“It was a small field, but they are three good horses in all fairness. I felt he won well at the line.

“The Tattersalls Gold Cup looks the obvious race for him now.”

O'Brien and Lordan completed a Group Three double when Twilight Payment also made all in the Comer Group International Vintage Crop Stakes.

The 15-8 favourite saw off Jessica Harrington's Barbados, formerly a Ballydoyle inmate, by two and a half lengths.

Last year's shock Irish Derby winner Sovereign put in an eye-catching performance, staying on into third for O'Brien senior, ridden in contrasting style to the manner of his front-running Classic victory almost 12 months ago - on his first start since.

There may be some autumn globe-trotting on the agenda, meanwhile, for Twilight Payment as his trainer assesses the feasibility of a Melbourne Cup foray in the hope that transport limitations imposed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus could be eased by then.

"He could possibly go to Melbourne, but the way things are at the moment we don't know if that is going to be an option with travel restrictions," said O'Brien.

"He's a hardy horse. He got his own way in front and is a tough horse to pass. He has good form around here.

"We put the cheek-pieces back on today, because he was a little bit lazy at Leopardstown (in the Saval Beg Stakes), and I think they were a help."

There was an all-the-way winner of the opening Dubai Duty Free The Irish Village Irish EBF Maiden too, in the shape of Aidan O'Brien's 5-2 favourite Serpentine, initiating a treble for Lordan.

Serpentine was breaking his duck at the third attempt and after he had stormed home by an emphatic nine lengths from stablemate Monument Valley, O'Brien revealed a high-profile plan to make the most of the three-year-old's stamina later in the season.

He said: "He's a horse that will probably get the Leger trip. He stays well, and I'd say he's a Leger horse.

"He's come forward well from his previous run. He's very genuine and very uncomplicated.

"Wayne said he went to the line very strong, and he'll go up to a mile and a half the next time for maybe something like the Voltigeur."

Ancient Spirit was Buckhurst's conqueror, only by a nose, at Navan two weeks ago - and he gave that form line a further boost with a tenacious one-length success in the Listed Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Celebration Stakes for Harrington.

Shane Foley had the well-travelled five-year-old closest to the very strong pace set by Inhale, before pouncing in the last two furlongs and then keeping favourite Bowerman at bay to prevail at 100-30.

The former German 2000 Guineas winner has added two Listed prizes for his new trainer this month, and Harrington's daughter and assistant Kate said: "It's nice to see him back up his win in Navan.

"He's a lovely horse and is growing in confidence, getting his head in front.

"He didn't get things his own way today and had to go after the horse in front. When he's got there Shane said he did it easy enough.

"He's got a few entries in the Meld (Stakes) and the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Mum will talk with the owners and see where they want to go. We'll go baby steps with him, because he's really only starting to get his confidence."

Ger Lyons supplied the impressive winner of the GAIN First Flier Stakes, with 10-11 favourite Frenetic.

Colin Keane was happy to race in isolation on the stands side, and the lack of company proved no problem as Frenetic surged clear of the group racing over in the centre of the course to win by five lengths from Mooneista.

The unbeaten juvenile was adding this Listed victory to her success in a Navan maiden, and Lyons said: "She's the fastest we have and was our Queen Mary horse if we had one.

"The plan was to go to Naas (Group Three Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies' Sprint Stakes) next week with her and we held an entry here just to see how the race panned out.

"I'll hold an entry next Saturday. I don't want to abuse her, but she's a two-year-old written all over her and if she's fit and well will go to Naas next Saturday.

"Ultimately we will work back from the Cheveley Park. That will be my long-term plan."

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