O’Brien Holds Off English Assault

Irish Derby on Sunday

Once again Aidan O’Brien came out on top as Los Angeles held off a three-pronged English assault in the closing stages to win the Irish Derby on Sunday.

Third home at Epsom, the Camelot colt confirmed his status as a leading contender over middle distances later in the year.

Los Angeles and Ryan Moore pull ahead of Sunway

Los Angeles and Ryan Moore pull ahead of Sunway (Pic – Coolmore)

The €1.25 million Dubai Duty Free-sponsored event saw a field of eight line-up at for the Curagh showpiece with Epsom Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly, the 5/4 favourite.

In a small field, race tactics were always going to play their part. Ballydoyle saddled half the field, and they dominated from the start.

The race unfolded very nicely for the winner who had the company of three stablemates at the front end for the first mile or so.

Ryan Moore had Los Angeles hard against the inside rail from an early stage. Anyone who wanted to keep him company was out of luck because another Aidan O’Brien-trained runner, The Euphrates, was alongside him for most of the way in joint third.

They had a charmed run up the inside when pacesetting stablemate Euphoric cornered wide turning in, with Ambiente Friendly following ominously in his slipstream.

Under a determined Ryan Moore, Los Angeles found plenty over the final couple of furlongs to out-stay Ambiente Friendly before fending off the late surge from the Oisin Murphy ridden Sunway who had been held up in rear.

As was the case at Epsom, Ambiente Friendly couldn’t quite sustain his challenge inside the final furlong.

Sunway denied him second for trainer David Menuisier, with Roger Varian’s Leicester winner Matsuri also finishing purposefully in fourth place, beaten a length and a quarter.

An incredible 16th victory in the Group 1 for Aidan O’Brien, and a second for Moore.

Despite also being a Group 1 winner as a juvenile in France last season, Los Angeles clearly remains a work in progress.

“We were delighted with him at Epsom, and we thought he would come forward,” O’Brien stated post-race.

He added: “We think he’ll get better. He’s a big, hardy horse. He looks like he’s a baby, but he was a Group 1 winner at two as well and he keeps progressing.”

Ambiente Friendly, in contrast, is likely to drop in distance.

“He came there looking good,” a magnanimous James Fanshawe said. “At the two-pole you were happy, but I just feel maybe he would be better over ten furlongs. He has come a long way in two months.”

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