Soldier Of Fortune wins Derby


Racing: Soldier Of Fortune produced a devastating turn of foot to pulverise his rivals in the Budweiser Irish Derby at the Curragh and lead home an Aidan O'Brien one-two-three.

Having attracted support in the build-up to the race, Seamus Heffernan's mount was eventually sent off at 5-1 in the 12-furlong feature.

After assuming command just before the quarter-mile point, Soldier Of Fortune powered away from stablemates Alexander Of Hales (33-1) and 6-4 favourite Eagle Mountain to score in emphatic style.

The fourth O'Brien runner, Spanish Harlem, was soon kicked into an early lead by Fran Berry and that pair set a fair gallop at the head of affairs.

As those early exploits began to take their toll, a host of runners moved on to the leaders heels upon entering the straight and Boscobel briefly took over in the hands of Joe Fanning.

That Sheikh Mohammed-owned colt was soon sending out the distress signals, however, as the gambled-on Soldier Of Fortune cruised alongside and grabbed the initiative.

Eagle Mountain was delivered out wide but Kieren Fallon, who had been niggling away for some time, never looked like getting to grips with O'Brien's supposed second string.

And as Heffernan pressed the button, Soldier Of Fortune found a visually stunning change of gear on his way to registering a nine-length verdict.

Alexander Of Hales and Eagle Mountain stuck to their task to fill the minor places but both were outclassed on the day.

O'Brien said: "We've always thought he was a very good horse. He was unlucky in a Group One in France last year and won his first two starts this year.

"He was in good form physically going into Epsom, but after that race his expression changed and he has been coming into the barn every morning with a smile on his face.

"He has been improving all the time and has definitely been happier since Epsom.

"The King George is a definite possibility, but there are other horses there like Dylan Thomas and Scorpion. We will sit down and have a meeting during the week and everything will be decided.

"He is a very exciting horse and is very special. He travels great and quickens well, and I think he will come on again for this."

On Heffernan, O'Brien added: "This is really special for Seamus. Nobody puts in more work than him, he rides all the horses every day.

"He is getting better and better every year and you can see that today. He is maturing all the time and really deserved this."

And he said of Eagle Mountain: "He struggled a long way out, which might suggest it was the very heavy ground.

"He did that in the Racing Post Trophy and Kieren was rowing away five or six furlongs out."