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Irish Derby


TROY's second Derby was, in a way, even easier than the first - but no sooner had he swept home at the Curragh than clear notice was served at Saint Cloud that the older generation also has its champion. Ile de Bourbon did not go to France on Sunday, but the last time we saw him he was treating Gay Mecene with brusque disdain in the Coronation Cup.

So now, as Gay Mecene spurted easily past Ela-Mana-Mou to win the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud by four very comfortable lengths, comparisons were inevitable.

They were by no means odious to Troy - who, after all, beat Ela-Mana-Mou by nearly 11 lengths at Epsom. But they hardly underline the hope that if all goes well and Ile de Bourbon meets the dual Derby winner at Ascot the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes may, once again, be the whole European season's most fascinating trial of strength. Although Alec Head puts it down to the Epsom going, it is hard now to explain Gay Mecene's dismal display in the Coronation Cup-and harder still, impossible in fact, to believe that he was, that day, anything like the horse who made Ela-Mana-Mou look almost leaden-footed at Saint Cloud.

The difference is proved, in fact, by the presence in both races of Frere Basile.

At Epsom, though comprehensively outgunned by Ile de Bourbon, he finished three lengths in front of Gay Mecene. Last week he had only two of the 13 runners behind him and some slight interference early on hardly seems enough to explain so complete a turnaround.

I certainly would not expect Troy's connections even to contemplate York (Benson and Hedges meeting) - but barring accidents they seem fairly certain to run the Derby winner at Ascot.

As Dick Hern said on Saturday there is no obvious reason why winning the Irish Sweeps Derby should have taken any more a out of Troy than his exertions did at Epsom.

The Curragh certainly put much less strain on the nerves of his backers because, though by no means cruising throughout on a tight rein, Troy never came anything like as close to getting shut in as he was for a furlong after Tattenham corner.

There seems to have been a slight difference of opinion, at least in the racing press, as to whether Lady Beaverbrook's Rivadon was in the field as pacemaker for Troy, or, as one usually reliable reporter had it, "to run on his own merits". If that was indeed the case no one can have told Brian Proctor because, after Troy had jumped out in front with tactless alacrity, Brian drove Rivadon into a clear lead, giving, at the very least, a lifelike imitation of a pacemaker.

The gallop he set - followed by The Bart and the two French colts, Scorpio and Fabulous Dancer - was soon enough to get the field well strung out. It was also enough to get Troy off the bit - but that is how Willie Carson likes him and a nine horse contest on the wide open spaces of the Curragh is very different from the back of an overcrowded Epsom Derby at the top of Tattenham Hill.

The Bart overtook Rivadon just before the turn for home, but as he led the French pair into the straight, Troy had already moved up, easily by his standards, to a nice handy launching pad a length or so behind them.

From there on - or at least from the moment when Willie pulled Troy to the outside - the Irish Sweeps Derby result could only have been altered by an earthquake, a bullet or a recurrence of whatever gremlin overthrew Devon Loch [further explanation].

None of these was forthcoming and, accelerating just as brilliantly as he had at Epsom, Troy shot past the three horses in front of him in 50 yards.

With a showmanlike attempt to make things more exciting, The Bart did duck left-handed as Troy came by - apparently keen to tackle the favourite now.

But he might as well have chased a moonbeam - and so might Dickens Hill who came bravely out of the pack to finish second for the second time.

On the face of it, beaten only four lengths instead of seven, his defeat was ess "total" than at Epsom. But total it still was - and Dickens Hill's rider Tony Murray has no illusions about the Future. "We have tried it both ways now," he says, "and I honestly don't see why it should ever be any different. That Troy is something special:'

The something special includes, as was proved at Epsom, a marvellous temperament and, apart from donning a blindfold to enter his stall, Troy took the whole thing as a matter of course. He almost literally did not turn a hair and it will, as I've said, be a major surprise if this race turns out to have taken much more out of him than the Derby - in which; as you probably remember, he lost just two pounds in weight.


The much longer journey and time away from home last week would normally be expected to increase the loss of weight involved, but Troy has a month to "recover" before Ascot. By the look of him last week a day or two would be enough.

Apart from Dickens Hill, it is not easy to measure the value of the Irish Derby. Fabulous Dancer who had never been beaten before (and who beat the Derby third Northern Baby in his last race) ran very moderately last week.

In fact about the only horses to improve their reputations were perhaps Sagaro's half-brother Scorpio - and Bohemian Grove, whom Willie Shoemaker brought along late from well behind to beat him a short head for third place.

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* Devon Loch's case has never been explained - when far ahead and looking to win the Grand National very easily, he suddenly 'jumped' as if spooked by something, and his legs collapsed under him. He struggled back up onto his feet but by the time he had regained momentum the others had passed him. No-one has ever found an explanation for the jump and the horse was physically fine after the race. The jockey didn't report seeing anything unusual in the crowd either.

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