Relentless Westover runs his rivals ragged in Irish Derby

Sat 25 Jun 2022
 Westover and Keane power clear (
Westover and Keane power clear (

Westover turned the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby into a procession with a dominant display at the Curragh.

Thought by many to be an unlucky third at Epsom behind Desert Crown, Rob Hornby had been replaced by Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane for his Classic assignment.

Keane was intent on not letting the early pace-setter French Claim gain too much of an advantage in front and while Westover was tracking the pace, his main market rival, Aidan O’Brien’s Oaks winner Tuesday, was dropped out by Ryan Moore.

Lionel was one of the first beaten and when Moore tried to make up ground on Tuesday, Keane asked Westover to go and win the race two furlongs out.

Enjoy a full replay

The Ralph Beckett-trained colt galloped clear in relentless fashion and while Piz Badile gave game chase, he was no match for the impressive winner.

A winning distance of seven lengths advertised his superiority with a further two back to French Claim in third. Tuesday came home in fourth.

The winner was cut to 4-1 from 10s by Paddy Power for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, while he is 7-4 from 4-1 for the St Leger with Ladbrokes.

Keane is swift to pay tribute to Rob Hornby

Keane said: "I suppose every jockey says the race they would like to win is the Epsom Derby, the second one would be the Irish Derby I think. It is great to win our home Derby. It's unbelievable.

"Full dues to Rob Hornby, I rang him this morning and he told me everything I needed to know about the horse - a true gentleman. He said the horse gets the trip well and he'll get further, so don't be afraid to use him up. He said one thing he will do is get to the line. Ralph said the same and, when you turn in, get him rolling and you'll stay going.

"I was (a bit keen for a furlong) but once he got in behind one, he gave me a beautiful ride. He's a monster of a horse, so he is only going to be a better horse next year.

"I'm very grateful and thankful to the owners, the Juddmonte family, they have been very good and loyal to us since they joined Glenburnie (retained trainer Ger Lyons' stable). I'm very thankful that they put their faith in me to ride this horse today."

_A proud Beckett reflects on an emphatic win - plus travel problem for himself in the morning _

Beckett said: "Colin was positive on him from the outset and took the bull by the horns. Rob Hornby spoke to him at lunchtime today and encouraged him to ride him that way.

"It's important that you go out with your boots on in these occasions and Colin certainly did that today. I really didn't think he would win like that at this stage. He's a big horse and still a work in progress. He's going to get better with age.

"I never felt he was going to stop when he got into his stride. He drifted out a bit into the middle of the track and is still, as I say, a work in progress. I hope there is more to come with him. He has a great temperament and that shone through today.

"This was always a race that would fit in well. The track suits him and it's wonderful to get it done. It's a big day for us.

 Keane with trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish (
Keane with trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish (

"He's going to develop from three to four, never mind through the rest of the year you would think.

"We'll discuss it with the family and everybody to see what we do next. It depends how he comes out of today. He's in the King George and that would certainly be an option.

"He's not ground dependent and that is important. We can really go where we want, when we want, when we are happy with the horse."

Westover shows touch of Frankel

Simon Mockridge, General Manager of Juddmonte Farms UK, spoke to GBRI after the race on Saturday afternoon. He said: “It was a scintillating performance by Westover, super impressive, and I know that Prince Khalid’s family are ecstatic to have their first Classic win since he passed away early last year.

“Westover is from an amazing family which goes back to our Prix de Diane winner, NEBRASKA TORNADO, and is testament to Prince Khalid’s 34 years of breeding expertise. The pedigree tells us that he should have an awful lot of speed, so don’t be surprised if he comes back in distance – he looked like he could have won easily if today’s race had been over ten furlongs.

“Although we were very happy for him to finish in the first three at Epsom, when you watch the race back and see the job Rob Hornby had to do to extricate him, he did finish remarkably strongly. Even so, no one could have expected him to win in the style that he has today.

“He was a very big foal, weighing 154 pounds, so Ralph [Beckett] did an incredible job to get him to race as often as he did last year. Sadly, we lost his mother, MIRABILIS, last year at the age of nineteen because of a nasty foot problem, but she had one more foal, an EXPERT EYE (GB) now two-year‐old filly called JALAPA (GB), who is with Ralph but has yet to see a racecourse.”

When asked about Westover’s sire Frankel, Simon Mockridge said: “Frankel has just been an absolute delight to have anything to do with. He was a truly great racehorse and he has made a phenomenal start to his stallion career.

“He is covering 180 mares per season at the moment, which is to be expected from a stallion who can now boast over 50 individual Group winners, including 23 at Group 1 level and nine Classic winners.”

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