Irish Derby hero Latrobe set for York over Paris
Joseph O’Brien to give derby winner ‘a little mid-season freshen up’ at Ebor festival
Joseph O’Brien is set to choose between the Group One Juddmonte International and the Group Two Great Voltigeur for his first classic winner as a trainer.
“We just thought it would be a nice time not to rush him back, give him a little mid-season freshen up and have him for the autumn,” O’Brien said on Tuesday.
He confirmed Latrobe will miss French racing’s Bastille Day highlight at the Paris-Longchamp track this weekend but added he still plans to be represented in the Group One by Downdraft.
Both colts are among just eight currently left in the 1½ mile race, which O’Brien won as a jockey in 2012 aboard Imperial Monarch, trained by his father, Aidan.
Father and son dominate the entries on Saturday, with O’Brien snr able to count on three possible starters: the Irish Derby runner-up Rostropovich; Kew Gardens, who won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot; and Nelson.
Supplementary entries will be possible later in the week but it could be Dee Ex Bee, runner-up at Epsom before disappointing in the Curragh Derby, who presents the most significant challenge to the Irish raiders.
Downdraft looks to have a major task on his hands having finished out of the frame in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot last time. Prior to that he won a handicap at Navan off an official mark of 88.
The Irish Derby success for O’Brien and his younger brother Donnacha is already assured of being one of the main racing stories of 2018, but it’s unlikely there’s going to be a Group One repeat in France.
“I think Donnacha is riding one of Dad’s, so I’ll speak to the owners and see who they want to get,” Joseph O’Brien said.
Latrobe’s own official rating has increased to 115, and he is a general 20-1 shot for Europe’s greatest all-aged prize, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in October. The son of Camelot is also an 8-1 shot to go one better than his sire in September’s St Leger.
“He’s in the Juddmonte and the Voltigeur, but I think he has a 5lb penalty for that. He’ll be left in both until closer to the time.
“I’m not sure what we want to do, trip-wise, whether we want to go 10 furlongs, 12 or a mile and six. We’ll take it one step at a time, go to York and see where we go from there,” O’Brien said.
Donnacha is a 1-4 favourite to emulate his brother and be crowned champion jockey this year. The 19-year-old rider currently leads the reigning title-holder, Colin Keane, by one winner (45-44).
His focus will be on the home action this Thursday while Ryan Moore and Padraig Beggy take the reins on Ballydoyle’s runners at the start of Newmarket’s July festival.
Van Beethoven (Moore) and North Wind will take their chance in the Group Two July Stakes while Moore is on Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Group Three Bahrain Stakes with Beggy on Victory Salute.
Brilliant Alpha Centauri
On Friday, Rhododendron is a general 6-1 shot against Jessica Harrington’s brilliant three-year-old Alpha Centauri for the Falmouth Stakes. A day later US Navy Flag looks set to be the Ballydoyle standard-bearer against Godolphin’s Blue Point in the July Cup.
That hugely prestigious Group One is also set to include another of racing’s superpower operations as the Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar is in line to represent Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell team.
The Michael Stoute-trained horse got a feel of the July course on Tuesday morning under the former classic winning jockey Ted Durcan.
“It was only a leg stretch but he is in super order and is fresh and well,” Durcan reported. “He has always been a very sensible horse. He has got a superb mind on him and he absolutely handled the track.”
Killarney’s own July festival starts on Sunday, where the feature event will be the Cairn Rouge Stakes.
Ger Lyons’s Stakes-winning filly Elegant Pose is among 20 left in the race after Tuesday’s forfeit stage. Elegant Pose hasn’t appeared since failing to fire in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting in May.
Aidan O’Brien has seven fillies left in the mile heat, including last Saturday’s impressive Naas scorer Most Gifted. The going at Killarney is currently “good to firm” with watering set to continue.