John Durrigan’s dog keeps the mid-Louth flag flying high in the Irish Derby.
Three of the runners featured here last week are still standing their ground in the BoyleSports Irish Derby. One of them, the mid-Louth-bred, -owned and -trained Dromrich Altair, ran an absolute blinder to qualify for the quarter-finals for John Durrigan.
Killmacdonagh was brilliant in her qualifier, and Our Surprise tracked cleverly to keep Brian and Laurence Jones’ interest alive in the premier Classic, with its €140,000 first prize.
Durrigan’s home-bred was rank outsider in her heat, for which Grangeview Ten and Wolfe were the leading fancies in the betting. The latter boasted of the competition’s fastest run to date, while Grangeview was attempting to keep his unbeaten run intact.
The market-leaders went to the bend together with Dromrich in close attendance, but trouble developed leaving Wolfe sprawling. Grangeview avoided the trouble and went clear, five lengths clear of the best.
Dromrich was also unscathed but had still some running to do to be sure of qualifying.
Durrigan’s dog really warmed to his task, closing the dividing margin with every stride. But while the two principals were battling it out, Wolfe, having got off the ground, was making his way back down the track meeting the oncoming field.
Thankfully, there was no collision, and after a short delay, the result – Grangeview winning by a couple of lengths from Deromrich – was allowed to stand.
Killmacdonagh, attempting to become the first to win the Irish Derby and Oaks, was magnificent in victory.
The Dundalk International winner wasn’t too well away and going into the back was no closer than fourth behind Ballymac Cooper.
But once again she was brilliant on the far side, and though with three lengths to make up on the long-striding Ballymac, put in a terrific finish to win going away. She surely is one of the greatest ever of her gender.
Our Surprise had last year’s runner-up, Magical Bale, to content with, and though he proved himself no match for the Patrick Guilfoyle-trained runner, the Carrickmacross representative did well to take the third qualifying spot.
Twenty-four face the starter in next Saturday night’s semi-finals, which can be viewed live at Dundalk Stadium.