This Sunday the eyes of the racing world will be fixed on the Curragh racecourse in Co Kildare as the course hosts the 2011 running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. For everyone involved in Irish racing Derby day is the most important race day of the year but for one man, Aidan O’Brien, this years renewal of the race could be his most important yet/
Since Hurricane Run landed the 2005 version of the Irish Derby every renewal of the race has gone the way of Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore operation. For five straight years they have dominated the race to such an extent that the rest of the countries horses have barely got a look in.
To dominate one race for five years running is something in itself. However to win Ireland’s premier race five years on the spin is a feat that may never be matched again. SportsnewsIreland now takes a look back at the five horses who helped O’Brien achieve his remarkable achievement.
Dylan Thomas 2006.
He made have been a 25-1 outsider when he ran in the Epsom Derby three weeks before hand but Dylan Thomas came to the Curragh on Irish Derby day as the warm favourite to turn around his narrow reversal at Epsom. The son of Danehill travelled supremely well in the race for Kieren Fallon and when he was asked to win his race two furlongs out the response he gave was electric. He scooted four lengths clear and ran out a very easy winner. Dylan Thomas would later win two Irish Champion Stakes, a King George and an Arc before been retired to stud. That day at the Curragh he unleashed his talent for all to see.
Soldier Of Fortune 2007.
Aidan O’Brien once described the son of Galileo as “narky”. On Derby day in 2007 Soldier Of Fortune proved that he had bundles of class to go with his narky temper. On a day when the ducks were more at home than the horses at the Curragh Soldier Of Fortune coped better than most in the rain softened ground and ran out an easy 7 length winner over his favoured stable mate Eagle Mountain with another stable mate Alexander Of Hales back in third. Despite winning the Prix Neil and the Coronation Cup later in his career he arguably never reached the big heights that were expected after his Derby romp.
Frozen Fire 2008.
To say Frozen Fire was quirky would be an understatement. In his career he went from the sublime to the ridiculous in various stages. A well regarded two year old Frozen Fire arrived at the Curragh as very much the outsider of the Ballydoyle battalion. Stable jockey at the time Johnny Murtagh chose to ride Alessandro Volta over Frozen Fire who would be ridden by Seamie Heffernan. That day at the Curragh the Derby descended into a game of bumper cars with five horse interfered with by the antics of Alessandro Volta who drifted right across the track. The one horse who wasn’t affected was Frozen Fire who dodged all the interference and landed the biggest prize of his career. It would be his last as he never won a race for Coolmore again.
Fame And Glory 2009.
A Group 1 winner as a two year old Fame And Glory was the pick of the Ballydoyle runners heading into the 2009 Epsom Derby. He turned out to be the best from his stable but he was denied the winning position by the legendary Sea The Stars who narrowly but comfortably beat him by a length. Fame And Glory arrived at the Curragh without Sea The Stars in the lineup and he duly bolted up in a awesome display of raw galloping prowess as he galloped the rest of the field into the ground. Although Sea The Stars would beat him twice more that season Fame And Glory would prove, in time, what an exceptional horse he is in his own right, capturing the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Coronation Cup last season and more remarkably the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last Thursday.
Cape Blanco 2010.
Cape Blanco came into the Derby on the back of a very disappointing effort in the French Derby three weeks earlier. He was however sent off favourite on the back of his defeat of subsequent Derby winner Workforce in the Dante at the start of May. It looked briefly for a moment that Cape Blanco would not get past Midas Touch but he grounded out the victory to give his trainer a remarkable fifth straight win in the race.
Coming into this weekends race O’Brien is once again mob handed with his four runners that ran at Epsom confirmed for the Curragh. Treasure Beach fared the best of the O’Brien quartet a few weeks ago but it could be his stable mate Recital, who disappointed at Epsom, that could be the one to make it six of the best for Aidan O’Brien in the Irish Derby.