Alamshar Tops Dalakhani in Tight Irish Derby
Date Posted: 6/29/2003 3:13:35 PM
Last Updated: 6/30/2003 2:44:19 PM

Alamshar stands with jockey Johnny Murtagh after winning Sunday's Irish Derby.
Photo: Associated Press
Alamshar, the lesser regarded of the Aga Khan's two entries, passed favorite Dalakhani in the final 200 yards to win the Irish Derby on Sunday.

Dalakhani, the undefeated French Derby winner ridden by Christophe Soumillon for the Aga Khan, moved in front with two furlongs remaining. But Alamshar, the third-place finisher in the English Derby ridden by Johnny Murtagh, seized the lead from the 4-7 favorite to win the $1.52 million race at The Curragh.

The final time of 2:28.2 for the 1 1/2-mile Derby on good going was the third fastest in the race's history, bettered only by St Jovite in 1992 and by Galileo two years ago.

Alamshar, sent off at 4-1, was settled in fourth among the nine horses and had to dig deep while beginning his move with four furlongs left to defeat Dalakhani.

High Country and Handel, both trained by Aidan O'Brien, took off at an exceedingly fast pace and after the first half-mile there was some 30 lengths from first to last.

``They were going very fast up front. I had a beautiful run, just behind Dalakhani in the straight,'' Murtagh said. ``He may be the king of France but he's on our turf now.''

The winner's participation in the race was in doubt right up until Friday because of a back muscle injury.

John Oxx, who trained the winner, told The Racing Post, "It was wonderful to see such a battle between the two horses. Dalakhani was a worthy favourite and he is a great horse. I didn't really expect Alamshar to beat him. But my horse has tremendous courage."

Oxx said the King George would be the next likely spot to run Alamshar, assuming he came out of the race in good shape.

Oxx and Murtagh won their second Irish Derby together. They teamed three years ago with Sinndar.

It was the Aga Khan's fifth triumph in the race after Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kahyasi (1988) and Sinndar (2000).

Roosevelt, a 150-1 long shot ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, placed third in the nine-horse field.

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