By John Manley
Sunday’s Budweiser Irish Derby at The Curragh represented a sweep for Sadler’s Wells, sire of the first three finishers in the 10-horse field. His son Montjeu was a commanding five-length winner over Daliapour, which had a similar margin over Tchaikovsky, the next to cross. The result has special meaning for Tipperary’s Coolmore Stud, which stands Sadler’s Wells, and which is owned in part by John Magnier, whose wife, Susan, is listed as co-owner of both Montjeu and Tchaikovsky. Michael Tabor is the sole partner with her in the winner, while he and Andrew Lloyd Wright of theatrical fame own shares of Tchaikovsky.
Montjeu, which was favored through the tote at 13-8, trailed the field through the first mile of this 12-furlong classic, which was run over ground that was a shade less than firm, due to rain that fell less than 24 hours before the race. Jockey Cash Asmussen lent encouragement to Montjeu heading for home, with the duo taking the lead a quarter mile out, with no challengers to beat back as they passed the grandstand. The winning time was 2:30.10.
French-based John Hammond trains Montjeu. Hammond attended University College Dublin before seeking glory on the racecourse. An interesting sidelight was the presence of Genghis Khan in the Derby. Another son of Sadler’s Wells, he is a half-brother to Generous, the 1991 Derby victor over Suave Dancer, which was also trained by Hammond. Genghis Khan’s pedigree was of little use to him here, as he finished ninth and next-to-last.
The victory was the fifth in six career starts for Montjeu, winner of the French Derby in his previous race. His only blemish was a second-place finish in the Prix Lupin in May. Out of the Top Ville mare Floripedes, Montjeu’s long-term goal is October’s Arc de Triomphe in France.
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