Cassie Tully goes through the pedigrees ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday with a son of Authorized heading the betting.
As our extraordinary year of unfamiliar events continues, so too does the unusual nature of the improvised pattern, with the 2020 Irish Derby being staged before the Epsom version and just two weeks after the Irish Guineas.
Shaping up to be a very open, interesting contest there are several aspects that inspire intrigue. This is not only the largest field in an Irish Derby for 43 years, but there is no Group One winner partaking and seven of the runners are attempting to break their maiden in this Classic.
While ten of the fifteen runners are sired by previous Derby winners, the Aidan O’Brien trained favourite is not by one of the Derby heroes so familiarly associated with the Ballydoyle/Coolmore outfit.
Nor has there ever been a son or daughter of this sire trained in Ballydoyle before this horse for that matter.
Santiago is a son of Authorized. The treble Group One and Epsom Derby winner by Montjeu who is from the phenomenal family of Arc winner Solemia, The Gurkha and Green Dancer. Authorized stood in Darley’s French operation for the past seven seasons after six in Britain and Ireland and was sold to stand in Turkey just last year.
Of his Northern Hemisphere progeny, he has produced two top level fillies Ambivalent who won the Pretty Polly Stakes and Seal of Approval who won the British Champions Fillies and Mares’. But he is more famous for his progeny that went on to excel in the National Hunt sphere. Tiger Roll, Nichols Canyon and Goshen to mention just a few.
Santiago is turning quickly around just eight days after his 1m6f Queen’s Vase win at Royal Ascot, after just winning his maiden over a mile last September.
Not only is he by Authorized who unintentionally excelled in the jumps sphere as a stallion, but he is out of the winning Cape Cross mare Wadyhatta, who is closely related to French Derby placed Motamarris and dual Group One winner Tamayuz, who all stem from that infamous family of Urban Sea, Galileo and Sea The Stars.
There has been much excitement surrounding Santiago after his Queen’s Vase win because of his sire and family. Many immediately labelled him as the next big potential National Hunt sire and there have been a number of Irish Derby and Queen’s Vase winners to go on and stand in that sphere.
But the Derby winners of past are the sires of Derby contenders today and are also some of the most high-profile, breed shaping individuals of the modern era including Galileo himself, Montjeu, High Chaparral, Hurricane Run and El Gran Senor and so on.
The 2017 winner of the Irish Derby Capri defeated four-time Group One winner and Champion three-year-old Cracksman who is now standing at £25,000, The Epsom Derby winner Wings of Eagles and the Arc hero Waldgeist in that race, who knows what he could have achieved as a sire on the flat had he not retired straight to National Hunt.
Should this horse prevail he would not only be a naturally exciting prospect to Jumps breeders, but would also be a different sire line in the middle-distance domain on the flat that could potentially be breeding the Derby and Oaks horses of the future.
O’Brien’s second string on jockey bookings is Arthur’s Kingdom whose father and Grandfather (Camelot and Montjeu) won this race and is a three parts brother to globetrotting Group two winner Joshua Tree.
Ballydoyle’s four other contenders include three sons of Galileo and a grandson through Australia. It would be foolish to discount any of them in what seems an especially open race and after Sovereign’s 33/1 upset in last year’s edition.
Iberia represents the similar Galileo over Danehill cross to Sovereign, and although just having won his maiden and placing in several Group races, so had Sovereign.
Tiger Moth is out of Group three winning Champion sprinter Lesson in Humility, while Dawn Patrol is a half-brother to Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi and multiple Group One placed Gagnoa.
Order of Australia is by dual Derby hero Australia, is bred by Aidan and his wife AnneMarie and is a three-part brother to four-time Group One winning filly for Joseph O’Brien, Iridessa. Stranger things have happened this year than this horse winning his maiden in a Classic under Padraig Beggy.
There is one unbeaten horse in the field looking to add to his four straight wins this Saturday and that is Crossfirehurricane for the handler who has won this race as both a rider and trainer, the younger burgeoning O’Brien, Joseph.
This horse shares his sire with current leading Epsom Derby contender and 1000 Guineas winner Kameko. Although this family has gained most of its black type success over shorter distances including French Guineas and Breeder’s Cup winner Flotilla and Champion Sprinter G Force, Crossfirehurricane’s sire Kitten’s Joy, the American grandson of Sadler’s Wells, won a Grade One on turf in the States over this distance of a mile and a half.
One of the most rousing aspects to this year’s Irish Derby is the participation of a filly.
It is of course a fact that pound for pound males are the stronger sex, and that is what makes it all the more impressive when a filly or mare reigns supreme over the colts.
It has often been the case over the same distance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, that mares defeat the colts, occupying the winning positions in seven of the past ten years. But the Classics are different. The females have their own version and it is a brave feat to oppose the males so early in their sophomore year, let alone succeed.
The last filly to prevail was Sheikh Mohamad’s Balanchine, some 26 years of Irish Derby’s ago. New York Girl will be only the fourth filly to attempt since Balanchine. Two fillies tried just three years after her success and finished 8th and 10th, and the only other until now was Qualify in 2015 who managed sixth.
New York Girl placed in the Irish 1000 Guineas behind Peaceful two weeks ago (Balanchine also placed in the Guineas before her win) and is by Derby winner and Derby sire New Approach, out of Stakes placed Giant’s Causeway mare Annee Lumiere.
A famous Greek philosopher once said “Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior” and the equalising factor in this Irish Classic is given in the form of just three pounds. She is taking the three pound advantage against the boys rather than face Magical in the Pretty Polly on Sunday, this is fascinating. Pounds rating
Jessica Harrington saddles Gold Maze who is another attempting to win his maiden and a Classic in the one. He represents the first crop of three-year-olds for his sire Golden Horn, who still just has the one Group three winner from 64 starters. And he is out of a Stakes winning Galileo mare, giving him two Epsom Derby winners on either side of his immediate pedigree.
Make Believe who also has his first three-year-olds, has Fiscal Rules here who ran fifth in the 2000 Guineas on only his second start two weeks ago. Make Believe himself won his two top level races over a mile and seven furlongs but the damsire of Fiscal Rules is Galileo and this horse is from the family of 14-time Group one winning Champion Goldikova.
The final aspect of unusual interest despite the odds, is Grade One winning National Hunt jockey Rachael Blackmore taking her first ride in the race for the predominantly jumps orientated trainer Emmet Mullins, also saddling his first runner in a flat Classic. King of The Throne is largely dirt-bred, his sire Hard Spun placed in all three of the American Triple Crown races and he is out of an A P Indy mare, who as damsire does have a European top-flight winner in French Oaks heroine Senga.
There are many claims on pedigree and paper to glory in this intriguing running of the Irish Derby, especially when Galileo features anywhere in the close family, which is 11 of the runners. So who will step up in a field of unknowns? It is most definitely all to play for in what will be a fascinating and enlightening race.
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