HomeHorse RacingDubai Duty Free Irish Derby analysis

Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby analysis

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Our Ben Linfoot unpicks the result of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh as Los Angeles landed the Classic for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.


With Epsom winner City Of Troy bypassing the Curragh in favour of next weekend’s Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby had a bit of a beige look to it beforehand and it did little more than live up to those average expectations.

Aidan O’Brien won his 16th renewal of the race with Los Angeles, the son of Camelot being a bit son of Camelot-ty beforehand, just like he was at Epsom, but he behaved just on the right side of the line to channel his energy in the right direction, his stablemates helping on that score.

Indeed, Coolmore told us how this would play out on Wednesday, a statement on their website saying that Declan McDonagh would ensure a good even pace on Euphoric as all four Ballydoyle horses would run in order to ensure a field size to support the World Pool.

Well, Euphoric did just that, along with Grosvenor Square and The Euphrates, the trio dropping out to finish in the last three home as the baton passed to Los Angeles who ran the last leg of the relay with relish under Ryan Moore.

A trio of British-trained hopefuls followed him home, but there were no excuses for them. In fact, this was a good clean race, run at an honest gallop, and all had their chances to get to and pass Los Angeles if they were good enough.

They weren’t, Los Angeles grinding it out in the style of a strong stayer as opposed to a classy mile-and-a-half horse. City Of Troy he ain’t, but he’s tough and hardy and if he just learns to behave himself before his races this doesn’t have to be as good as it gets for him.

If he continues to display a bit of a temperament beforehand, this might well be the best race on his C.V. come the end of his career. But he’s with the right man in O’Brien to improve on that score and it could well be that attempting a longer distance will bring out more progression in him, too.

Indeed, it’s no surprise he’s 3/1 favourite for the St Leger.

Sunway enjoyed the strong gallop and the longer trip and he put in a career-best performance on his first go at 1m4f. The Galiway colt is improving with his racing and, while versatile regarding conditions, he could be a force later in the campaign when he tackles a mile and a half on softer ground.

In fact, the way he ran here he could get further as well and he could be another one pointed at the St Leger.

Ambiente Friendly won’t be. He has proven himself a middle-distance three-year-old of high repute on his last three starts but he was outstayed on O’Brien’s turf on Sunday.

He could perhaps win at the top-level over 1m4f granted the right circumstances, an easier track, a less testing gallop, but dropping back to 10 furlongs also looks a sensible ploy and it would be no surprise if James Fanshawe goes that way on his next start.

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Like at Epsom, there was a fleeting moment where Ambiente Friendly was travelling the best and Rab Havlin tried to strike while he was seemingly tanking along, but Los Angeles knuckled down and proved too strong while Sunway outstayed him as well.

He had a clean run and there were no excuses again, but the Matsuri camp can probably feel aggrieved not to have hit the podium positions with their son of Sea The Stars.

Roger Varian’s horse justified the decision to come here on just his fourth start following a win in a lowly Leicester novice, but inexperience might have cost him a few euros as he was the one horse to suffer slight interference in the straight and he looked a little startled by the crowding.

Still it was a good run in a good race. Nothing more than that. Which makes O’Brien’s assessment of Los Angeles all the more interesting.

“We came here thinking that he was going to turn into a Leger horse, but Ryan said he has way more class than that.”

We will have to see. Los Angeles has proven there is more than one big City amongst the Ballydoyle three-year-olds, but after winning no more than an average Irish Derby he remains way behind Troy in the excitement stakes. A St Leger candidate, you might surmise.


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