The Classic clues for 2017 from O’Brien and Weld at Leopardstown
All eyes were on double-Derby winner Harzand’s unsuccessful crack at the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, but while trainer Dermot Weld will feel unlucky after his stable star reported lame after the race, the Galway man had cause for minor celebration earlier in the day.
Ballydoyle runner Douglas Macarthur, who was well fancied for the 2017 Epsom Derby going into the weekend, let down odds-on backers by coming third behind Ken Condon’s Landfall and Weld’s Firey Speech in the Group 3 Champions Juvenile Stakes.
Despite finishing just over two lengths clear of Firey Speech, who edged Aidan O’Brien’s 8/13 favourite, Condon’s two-year-old won’t be eligible for next year’s Classics having already been gelded, with the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes later this month at the Curragh his possible next destination.
Conversely, Weld’s runner-up is of great interest after staying on well in his first run over a mile on good ground, having only ever experienced soft or yielding conditions previously.
Ladbrokes don’t have Firey Speech priced up in their 2000 Guineas market for next spring’s Newmarket showpiece yet, but the two-time winner is entered in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh, giving an indication of his trainer’s thinking.
As for Douglas Macarthur, the omens aren’t great looking back at the history of O’Brien’s Epsom Derby winners, with none of Ruler of the World, Australia, Camelot, High Chaparral or Galileo losing a race in the build up to the big day, bar on debut.
The colt looked to have nailed that trend when running out a five-length winner at Leopardstown last month, after finishing last of sixth on his first start at the same track six weeks earlier.
In truth, none of O’Brien’s victorious quintet finished outside the top two at any point prior to their Epsom success, so Douglas Macarthur always looked a long shot on the trends and is now officially that at 25/1 to follow them.
Such is Ballydoyle’s strength that stablemate Churchill takes 12/1 clear favouritism for the Derby having won all four of his races since finishing third on debut, including the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh over the weekend.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.