Bobby Zen

Having surrendered to Ballydoyle’s City Of Troy (Justify) in the Derby, the Gredleys’ Ambiente Friendly (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) has more work to do taking on a crew from that establishment on their home soil in Sunday’s G1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh. While the likes of Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}), Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and Jack Hobbs (GB) (Halling) have come from Epsom to successfully represent Britain in recent years, there is always that bridge to cross coming here.

There is also the significant rain that fell on Saturday to take into account, making it soft and adding to the possibility that this will be a stern stamina test which the James Fanshawe trainee is yet to convince that he needs. None were travelling better three out in the Derby and high cruisers of that nature don’t tend to find things in their favour at this track, so Robert Havlin has to have his tactics perfected.

“It’s a while since I’ve ridden a mile and a half at the Curragh, it was quite a few years ago, but he’s unbelievably relaxed so I don’t think the track will pose any threats,” he said. “I rode him Thursday morning and he felt great, he was bucking and kicking but then he lobbed up the canter out of my hands the whole way.”

From Troy to Los Angeles…

While City Of Troy is Sandown-bound, Aidan O’Brien still has a potent threat to Ambiente Friendly in the Derby third Los Angeles (Ire) (Camelot {GB}). There is every reason to believe that on this softer surface ridden more conservatively than he was at Epsom that he can reverse the 3 1/4-length margin that separated him from Ambiente Friendly. At this stage, he is the epitome of the colt who has done nothing wrong and looks for all the world an ideal Curragh Derby model.

O’Brien confirmed that impression on Saturday. “It’s a big open track and he’s a very big horse who is only going to improve mentally and physically with racing,” he said. “He’s a big, honest, straightforward horse, hardy and very genuine and relaxes very well, but like all Camelots he has nervous energy which makes them good. The Curragh looks like it should suit him and we couldn’t be happier with him.”

Only third and well-beaten in the G3 Chester Vase, Grosvenor Square (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) took a backward step there from his 2-year-old form which included a win in the G3 Eyrefield Stakes. That was at a time when the yard’s 3-year-olds were badly needing their first outing and it is worth noting that he is a half-brother to the 2020 Irish Derby winner Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}). “Grosvenor Square is a lovely, big horse, but he was a little bit backwards when we ran him at Chester,” O’Brien said. “He’s just ready to start again, so hopefully he runs a nice race.”

What to Expect from Matsuri?

   Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum is having a big year and the Roger Varian-trained Matsuri (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) could make it even better on Sunday if he is able to make a leap from his wide-margin win in a Leicester novice last month. “It’s not an easy race to step into, but his home work has been good,” jockey James Doyle said of the son of the 700,000gns Tattersalls October Book 2 sensation. At the other end of the experience spectrum is last year’s G1 Criterium International winner Sunway (Fr) (Galiway {GB}), who has mixed form and is up to a mile and a half for the first time.

“I felt the last day I was too far back off a slow pace and he’s been crying out for a little bit further,” jockey Oisin Murphy said. “I rode him on Tuesday, David Menuisier is very happy with him, as am I. He’s drawn eight of eight, but that doesn’t concern me. I’m hoping he’ll run a career best. On ratings, he’s not out of the race and if he runs up to his best, which the signs are good for, he’ll go well.”

On Track for the Classics…

It has been a while since The Curragh’s G2 GAIN Railway Stakes produced a Classic winner, 16 years precisely, but Mastercraftsman (Ire) was continuing a trend at the time of using this six-furlong staging post as a stepping stone to the following year’s Guineas. Aidan O’Brien’s other mile Classic winners successful here include King Of Kings (Ire), Rock Of Gibraltar (Ire) and George Washington (Ire) and he is back with a trio on Sunday bidding to equal the late Dr Vincent O’Brien’s 14 wins in this.

Ryan Moore is on the course-and-distance maiden winner Tunbridge Wells (Ire) (No Nay Never), a full-brother to Blackbeard (Ire) who was beaten in this two years ago and he received a form boost at Royal Ascot as the filly he beat last time Mighty Eriu (Ire) (Inns Of Court {Ire}) was second in the Queen Mary. Wayne Lordan partners the other colt to have won at the track and trip in Henri Matisse (Ire) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) and he is more in the mold of a Guineas colt, being out of Immortal Verse (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}). That definitely applies to the third-string The Parthenon (Ire) (Kingman {GB}), a relative of Saturday’s G2 Airlie Stud Stakes winner Truly Enchanting (Ire) (No Nay Never) who drops back in trip having taken the seven-furlong Gowran Park maiden in which Saturday’s winner Hazdann (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) was down the field. They meet the impressive York maiden winner The Strikin Viking (Ire) (Inns Of Court {Ire}) and the battle-hardened G3 Marble Hill Stakes winner and G2 Norfolk Stakes third Arizona Blaze (GB) (Sergei Prokofiev), so this will be a proper test.

“Tenebrism’s half-brother Henri Matisse showed a willing attitude to just get up here for me on his debut and he is a colt of some potential,” Moore explained. “We also run Gowran winner The Parthenon, but I haven’t ridden him before. Either of the three have the potential to go and win this, but my mount Tunbridge Wells, who wears cheekpieces here, has achieved the most of ours to date.”

Iresine Back at the Top Table…

In France, the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud features Bertrand Milliere’s popular veteran Iresine (Fr) (Manduro {Ger}) who carries the rare distinction of being a G1 Prix Royal Oak and G1 Prix Ganay winner. Top-class whatever the trip, he looks to add a mile-and-a-half group 1 to his 10 and 15 1/2-furlong ones and despite the credentials of Ballydoyle’s impressive G3 Ormonde Stakes winner Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and Ecurie Jean-Louis Bouchard’s 2023 G1 Grand Prix de Paris hero Feed The Flame (GB) (Kingman {GB}) is not meeting anything of any greater merit here than he has beaten previously. Also on the card is the 10-furlong G2 Prix Eugene Adam, where Jean-Pierre-Joseph Dubois and Jean-Claude Seroul’s G3 Prix Greffulhe scorer Wootton Verni (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) takes on some progressive peers.

The post Friendly Rivalry In The Irish Derby appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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