Capri hits top gear for O’Brien

Capri registered a minor surprise as he fended off Epsom hero Wings Of Eagles and Cracksman to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Sent off a 6-1 shot, the grey Galileo colt was one of five runners for trainer Aidan O’Brien, with Ryan Moore opting to ride Wings Of Eagles.

That allowed Seamie Heffernan to take the mount on Capri, who proved most game in holding Cracksman in second, with Wings Of Eagles third.

With O’Brien running five, a strong pace was guaranteed and it was The Anvil who set the early gallop for the Coolmore team under Ana O’Brien.

With stablemates Douglas Macarthur and Taj Mahal also in pursuit, along with Capri, they appeared to have lined the race up for Wings Of Eagles turning for home.

However, Moore was pushing along from a fair way out, as was Pat Smullen aboard Cracksman, as they tried to reel Heffernan’s mount back in.

Cracksman flew down the outside in the final furlong, with Wings Of Eagles between the two, but Capri, who finished sixth in the Derby at Epsom, dug deep to give Heffernan a third win in the race and O’Brien a 12th Irish Derby victory.

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French raider Waldgeist did not enjoy the best of passages for trainer Andre Fabre and jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot and finished fourth.

Heffernan said: “I had the ammunition. He’s tough and he’s been running in good races, so I was confident.

“Aidan trains them from race to race, and he trains them to keep improving – usually they do.

“It’s a nice surprise and I can’t wait for the fourth (Irish Derby) now.”

O’Brien said: “I was always a great believer in this horse. Even after Epsom, Seamus wanted to come here and ride him.

“We know that he gets a mile and a half and we know that he’s brave. Seamus had a lovely position through the race.

“I thought Seamus gave him a brilliant ride. He paced it brilliantly. He had a target there and he knew the field was coming behind him but he timed it to perfection.”

O’Brien was not too disappointed with the effort from Wings Of Eagles, but felt he had perhaps been outstayed by the winner.

He added: “He ran very well and came there to go, but maybe a tough mile and a half might be as far as he wants to go – he might have just been outstayed.

“He showed a mile-and-a-quarter pace at Epsom, he came down, sprinted and finished off very quickly.

“He still ran very well – I thought they all ran great.”

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