'Fire' Burns Brightly in the Irish Derby

'Fire' Burns Brightly in the Irish Derby
Photo: Trevor Jones
Frozen Fire wins the Irish Derby (IRE-I) with Seamus Heffernan aboard.
Frozen Fire came storming up the center of the course under Seamus Heffernan to spring a 16-1 surprise in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) at the Curragh June 29.

The German-bred son of Montjeu, one of the more lightly-considered of Aidan O’Brien’s five-strong entry, avoided all the trouble that occurred within the final 100 yards and sailed to an impressive two-length victory.  

The victory made it back-to-back Irish Derby wins for both jockey and trainer, and it also marked O’Brien’s sixth overall victory in the Irish classic.  O’Brien now has equaled the legendary Vincent O’Brien in number of wins.

With heavy favorite New Approach scratched due to a leg injury the morning of the race, the Irish Derby became a wide-open affair.  Favoritism went to Sir Michael Stoute’s Tartan Bearer, who finished a close second to New Approach in the Vodafone Derby (Eng-I) three weeks ago. Casual Conquest, a good third at Epsom, was second choice, with Alessandro Volta the most highly regarded of the Ballydoyle five.

After breaking poorly, Heffernan kept Frozen Fire at the rear of the field as stablemates Hindu Kush and Bashkirov led the field of 11 through the first several furlongs.  Alessandro Volta, under Johnny Murtagh, tracked that pair closely, with Tartan Bearer a few lengths further back.

Alessandro Volta, running strongly along the rail, took command three furlongs out, as Casual Conquest, Curtain Call, and Tartan Bearer began to make bold moves.  As the field entered the final furlong, however, Alessandro Volta swerved sharply to his left, impeding Curtain Call and carrying Tartan Bearer out to the center of the course.

Frozen Fire, running the widest of all, zoomed past his trouble-making stablemate for a clear victory.  Casual Conquest, who also was able to stay in the clear, grabbed second, with Alessandro Volta holding on for third over Tartan Bearer.

The stewards called an inquiry as soon as the horses crossed the wire, and after a lengthy discussion, reversed the placings of Alessandro Volta and Tartan Bearer.  Curtain Call, who was also greatly impeded by Alessandro Volta, remained in fifth.

Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:31.96 over a good to yielding turf course.

A delighted Aidan O’Brien told the press after the race, “All we wanted was an even, strong gallop and this is great for everyone involved, as there are so many people in the team who make this happen.”

Frozen Fire, who races for Michael Tabor, was bred in Germany by J. and H. Hoyer.  The bay colt is out of Flamingo Sea, by Woodman.  His third dam, the stakes-placed Fair Rosalind, raced as a homebred for Mrs. Richard C. duPont’s Bohemia Stable.  Fair Rosalind is out of the stakes-winning Bold Hour mare, Thirty Years, and produced the stakes winners Betty Lobelia and Crowned.

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