Aidan O’Brien-trained runners finished one-two-three as Cape Blanco held off stablemate Midas Touch by a half-length to capture the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh June 27.
Cape Blanco not only made amends for his poor showing in the Prix du Jockey-Club (Fr-I) earlier this month, but provided O’Brien with his fifth consecutive victory in the Irish classic.
The victory was also the highlight of what started out to be a rough day for jockey Johnny Murtagh, who suffered several cuts and bruises in a nasty fall in the first race on the card.
Sent off as the 7-2 second choice behind favorite Monterosso, Cape Blanco tracked the early pace set by stablemate Bright Horizon. Bright Horizon was followed by fellow Ballydoyle runners At First Sight and Midas Touch, with Murtagh allowing Cape Blanco to travel along in fourth.
Bright Horizon continued to show the way as the field entered the home straight. He was beginning to tire from his exertions, however, and it was Colm O’Donoghue aboard Midas Touch who was the first to make his move, shooting to the front with just over two furlongs left.
He was soon joined by stablemates Cape Blanco and Jan Vermeer, who had made up several lengths from the rear of the field. Jan Vermeer’s challenge stalled, however, and it was left to Midas Touch and Cape Blanco to battle it out to the wire.
In the end it was a determined Cape Blanco who won the fight, wearing down Midas Touch late. Jan Vermeer stayed on for third, another 1 1/2 lengths further back. Monterosso, though never a factor, finished a non-threatening fourth.
Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:28.68 over the good to firm turf course.
Celebrating his eighth victory in the Irish Derby, O’Brien said afterwards, “I’m delighted; it was brilliant. Johnny gave him a brilliant ride. He showed today he’s the type of horse we thought he was, and we’ll sit down and think seriously about the King George (VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Eng-I).”
A start in the King George would set up a fascinating rematch between Cape Blanco and Investec Derby (Eng-I) victor Workforce, whom Cape Blanco defeated when the pair met in the Totesport Dante Stakes (Eng-II) in mid-May.
Cape Blanco is a 3-year-old chestnut colt by Galileo out of Laurel Delight, by Presidium. He was bred in Ireland by Jack Ronan and Des Vere Hunt Farm and is owned by Derrick Smith.