It wasn’t a great weekend in the English Derby. Five of the team were eliminated with just Clonbrien Prince and Nice Charmer going through.
The biggest talking point was Wolfe and his elimination in such unusual circumstances.
I watched the race but didn’t get the chance to watch the replay until yesterday. We are none the wiser. There were some people around on the far side of the track, but I wouldn’t even know whether they were visible from a dog’s eye view.
The one thing I do know, is that there were a few people who seemed determined that the dog must be lame. Not as far as I am concerned. He looks sound to me.
Nor, without any sign of anything visible, could the management ever have considered making the race void. It was an unfortunate incident, but that is dog racing. Nobody is looking to blame anybody, though a bit more understanding for a disappointed owner would have been nice.
These things happen from time to time. When I was working for Randy Singleton in the 1970s, we had the Derby favourite in Glen Rock, who ran a very bizarre race, at something like 1-7fav, and ran into a a post off the last bend. We never knew what happened, and I don’t suppose we will ever know about Wolfe.
I will have him on the gallop tomorrow and then probably an unofficial trial at Clonmel. In the longer term it will be back to Shelbourne and hopefully the Irish Derby.
I did consider the Derby Plate, but if things went wrong with the other two still in the Derby, you could end up making extra journeys from a £2,000 race. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was just up the road, but not with the time, effort and expense needed to get to Nottingham from Tipperary.
Of the others, Lenson Blinder came off with a slight hock problem. But it doesn’t look too serious, probably five or six weeks off. Even if he had qualified, I would have withdrawn him. You don’t want to be patching up a dog at this early stage. It isn’t in his best interests.
Macaroon Cruz also came off sore, but he is getting on now and we have been tackling tendon and shoulder problems for a while. I’ll have a chat with his owner and take it from there.
I was a bit disappointed with Totos Park but he will be back. Blue East ran how I feared he might from such a poor draw. He desperately, desperately needs the inside, and he showed why.
Which leaves us with Nice Charmer and Clonbrien Prince through to the next round. Charmer might not be one of our ‘flashy runners’, but he just keeps turning up and running his heart out. Since the start I have been calling him our ’20-1 Derby finalist’.
Prince ran very well to win his heat. He only just cleared them at the bend but I am happy with the draw from three in the third heat on Friday. He is the sort of dog that loves the racing, and I would often give him a gallop on the day of the race.
Although I was pleased when they dropped the Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday format between the third round and the semis, it would have suited him down to the ground.
I was at Shelbourne on Saturday to see Clona Dream run a very decent third in the Sporting Press Irish Oaks Final behind Kilmacdonagh.
The winner ran very well and took full advantage of her draw in one. Our bitch disputed second place and might have gone closer but for being cut off at the third bend. But she earned €3,500 for Kevin O’Brien and did her reputation no harm at all.
On Sunday we had the semi finals of the Larry O’Rourke sponsored National Produce Stakes Final at Clonmel and we have three in the decider including the likely favourite Riverside Leo, who is owned by Larry.
The draw hasn’t been particularly kind to our three. Leo is a long way from the rail in four with the one and three both good early paced dogs to the bend. Rockburst Dutch is even more badly drawn.
Ironically, Herecomesdahoney looks the best drawn of the trio. If those around him get in each others way, it could play into his hands as he has been coming from nowhere to qualify.
So although I think Leo is the one they all have to beat, I would image his SP will probably be a bit shorter than I might make him.