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Outsider Eagles sprouts Wings to land on winning post target - EPSOM DERBY


UNCONSIDERED by most, as seemingly the least fancied of six Aidan O’Brien-trained runners in the 1m4f Group 1 Derby, outsider Wings Of Eagles, partnered by the unheralded Padraig Beggy, flew through the final furlong to snare stablemate Cliffs Of Moher close home. Having contemplated hanging up his riding boots, the 31yo was more than thankful he decided otherwise as he made his first ride in arguably the world’s most famous Flat race a winning one to give Aidan O’Brien a sixth Derby success at Epsom.

After their success with Enable in the Oaks the previous afternoon, Frankie Dettori and John Gosden briefly appeared set to complete a memorable Classic double when their Cracksman swamped the eventual winner’s stablemate, Douglas Macarthur, just over a furlong out. However, on just his third start and having still looked inexperienced throughout the race, he was soon joined, and passed, by Cliffs Of Moher under Ryan Moore. After mastering Cracksman, Moore and O’Brien seemed poised to go one better than when denied, by Enable, with Rhododendron 24 hours earlier in the Oaks.

However, although having only a couple of horses behind them turning in, Beggy and the son of 2011 Derby hero Pour Moi had other ideas. Hitting his stride, the winner shot past his stable companion inside the dying strides to defeat him by almost a length, with Cracksman a further neck away in third. Fourth went to Martyn Meade’s Eminent, arguably a bit unlucky not to finish closer, with Godolphin’s Benbatl faring best of their runners in fifth.  

A delighted Aidan O’Brien said: “Padraig is a brilliant rider, a world class rider and always has been. He is strong with a great mind, tactically very aware. I can’t tell you how delighted we are to have him working with us and having him there on those big days. “Padraig was always going to take his time and he gave the horse a brilliant ride. He had the horse nice and balanced and was in a great position coming down the hill. “This was a nice horse last year, Colm O’Donoghue liked him and he ran a lovely race late autumn in France.

Then we took him to the Chester Vase, where he ran well. Seamie Heffernan rode him and was delighted. He had been working well since. “You never really know going into this race. They are all bred for it and until you test them on this course over a mile and a half you don’t know how they will do; anything can happen. “I couldn’t be happier and I am delighted with Cliffs Of Moher, who was just a little bit of a baby. He was there to win his race but tired a little bit so his next run will be something to look forward to. He came with a sustained run but his lack of preparation just showed in the last 50 yards. “The runner-up only just made it here.

He needed a bit of time to get him there in spring so it was a rush to have him ready. I’d imagine Cliffs Of Moher is the one with most improvement in him. He was just a baby coming here and Ryan had to mind him. He’s one to look forward to next season.” Beggy was understandably ecstatic but not as surprised as some. “The main thing is that you are riding for Aidan O’Brien in colours like these so you don’t worry about the betting because they always have a chance,” said Beggy. “He gave me a great feel going down, he probably pulled a little hard.

I was a bit unlucky in running but it probably helped us get there at the right time in the end. They went quick. I was drawn beside Ryan Moore and Cliffs Of Moher so I decided to follow Ryan and let the best horse take me into the race. A furlong down I knew that, if I get a run, I would win. “I had seen that Ryan had gone and, in fairness to this big horse, his best furlong in the race was his last, which makes a big, big difference. I don’t get to sit on too many like this beast at the races. I’m going to enjoy it! I have dreamed about this big time and, to be honest, I had probably given up on the big day. Aidan O’Brien, fair play to him, has made it happen.

I’ve won the Derby though! “I dreamt about it when I was young but I’d nearly given it up. It doesn’t matter what the pecking order is when you’re riding for Aidan O’Brien as they’re all good horses and they all have a chance. “I’m delighted for the horse and all the lads that look after him every day. He’s a strong colt and I’m fairly happy! It means the world to me; all my family are at home watching this. My girlfriend, family, everyone. Aidan and Ryan told me to ride him like that and I’m glad they went quick, although I don’t think they went too mad. “I was on a good horse and he looked a million dollars; a lot of the jockeys down at the start said I was riding the paddock pick.

He’s a fine big colt. I knew I had a chance as Aidan always trains each horse for this race; some have form coming into the race, some improve all the time. My lad improved since his last run. It’s brilliant to win this. I can’t really describe it in words and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I’ll go down in history though and I’ve won the Derby. I’ll be remembered for something at least!” Co-owner Michael Tabor was also delighted following the race. “You never get tired of winning a race at the pinnacle of horse racing,” he said. “It’s just a fantastic feeling. The way I felt personally this morning was that it was a very open race and any horse could come forward, as 3yos do, to win and we knew Wings Of Eagles was in the mix, but no more than that.

“He’s proved to be a very, very good horse for the future. Aidan’s done it again and we were second as well. It is just incredible.” Of Cracksman, John Gosden said: “I think it was a good, solid run. I think Frankie found the horse slightly immature. “I think he just ran a little babyish but produced a great effort, he was just light on experience at the end but I don’t think he was beaten too far. “We knew there was going to be a lot of pace, but the pacemakers were rather ignored and they took a bit of catching in the end. “He is in the Irish Derby, I would not mind going there at all, as it is a nice, galloping track.”Earlier, the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, over an extended mile, was restricted to fillies and mares.

It was dominated by those who raced prominently, with the first three home pretty much the leading trio throughout. Gosden and Godolphin combined to land the spoils with Laugh Aloud who travelled well throughout under James Doyle, came wide of the field in the straight and put the race to bed in a matter of strides. She won the race by five lengths to claim her biggest career success. “She’s improved with age, I wish we humans did the same!” said Gosden. “She won well last time and likes it in front, but I said to James I think there are a couple of others who want to go there. I like the way she relaxed off them, let them fight it out and then swung off them and kicked the race into touch.” 

Doyle added: “It was quite something wasn’t it? It was an explosive performance. It is nice that she is versatile now. “She was always one who liked to get out on the front end and enjoy herself before but there were a couple in the race today we thought would be hassling her all the way. “Myself and John spoke about it beforehand and, if one wants to go, we would take a lead and get her to switch off, which is exactly what she did. “She was impressive when I let her go, she travelled into the race so well and scampered up the hill. It felt good and I think she would have won even if I’d have found trouble.

“I think she could make an impact at an even higher level. She deserves a crack at a Group One race now, perhaps. “She has won a couple of Listed races and now a Group Three, so she is going in the right direction. That was a pretty authoritative performance so she definitely deserves a crack at it, perhaps after Royal Ascot.” A homebred daughter of Dubawi, Laugh Aloud is a halfsister to Debussy who, trained by Gosden, landed the 2010 Group 1 Arlington Million in the colours of Princess Haya. Doyle was to complete a double, partnering the Mark Johnston-trained Solider In Action who produced a commanding performance to land a 1m4f handicap.

The revitalised Sovereign Debt, fittingly in front of the Queen (as in she is the Sovereign, not that she is in debt!) continued his run of winning form since joining Ruth Carr with a hard fought success in the 7f Group 3 Diomed Stakes. Only seven went to post but, two furlongs out, the eventual winner was throwing down his challenge in company with Godolphin’s Folkswood and Ballet Concerto, owned by Saeed Suhail. In behind, Pat Dobbs was desperately looking for a gap aboard Oh This Is Us who was denied a run and forced to angle out, only to find Gabrial in his way, the pair bumping before both ran on strongly.

James Sullivan drove Sovereign Debt to the head of affairs a furlong out and they held on grimly from Gabrial who finished with a real rattle under Dettori. Victorious on his final start for David Nicholls, Sovereign Debt was third on his debut for Carr and has now won each of his three subsequent outings. The 8yo gelded son of Dark Angel was penalised here after his victory, again from Gabrial, in the Group 2 Sandown Mile. “He’s just a straightforward horse,” said Carr. “He doesn’t need to be dropped out or force the pace, you can just put him wherever and he does the job. He just keeps upping his game all the time.

“I did think he’d be beaten today as he was carrying a 5lb penalty for his Sandown win. That sort of penalty, giving weight away to horses rated the same as him and horses coming up through the grades, can really stop them so this was great to see. He’s a real trier and he really wants it. “We put him out in a field with a very average gelding, who looks after him, he does his work and he eats well. He does enough to keep himself fit and healthy so, basically, he’s a happy horse. “I like to turn my horses out; I’m probably obsessed with it. I don’t care if they’re a bit muddy or have a few wounds from where they bite each other as the physical and mental benefits far outweigh those negatives. “It just gives them a chance to be horses. I’m lucky I have the facilities to do that.

“I will have to think about a Group One at some point. He’s on a roll at the moment and it’s very special to have a winner on Derby day. ”Winning jockey, James Sullivan, added: “Each ride I’ve had on him this year has been my biggest win to date and he’s become a very big chapter in my life. “He’s an absolute legend. It’s brilliant for the yard, just to have a horse like this lifts the whole yard. It’s a great team effort and everyone works really hard. “I’m sure he’s deserved his right to run in a Group One somewhere now. I’d love to ride him in one but I’m not very used to riding in Group Ones so not really sure of the calibre of horse needed.”

Trainer Andrew Balding believes there could still be better to come from Drochaid after the Mastercraftsman colt took the opening 3yos only 1m2f handicap under Oisin Murphy. That was his first visit to Epsom whereas the Tony Coyle-trained Caspian Prince is a regular and later became the first horse to win the 5f ‘Dash Handicap’ three times. After breaking smartly and blazing the trail under Tom Eaves, the 8yo gelded son of Dylan Thomas started to tire inside the closing stages but just managed to land the spoils by a diminishing short head. Caspian Prince’s three successes in the race have all come for different trainers, with Tony Carroll in 2014 and Dean Ivory in 2016 also saddling the gelding to victory.

He also won at Meydan in 2015 when trained by Carroll. Malton trainer John Quinn, who used to employ Padraig Beggy, saddled Reputation to land the finale, a 6f handicap, under Jason Hart. Quinn said: “I’m so pleased for Padraig, who obviously worked for us for a while. He has always been a talented rider and Aidan obviously recognised that. “We knew this horse handles the track and were pretty hopeful of a big run.” 

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15 Feb 2018
Issue Number: Issue 636
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