Santiago followed-up on his Royal Ascot success with Classic glory in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.
This extended the magnificent record of trainer Aidan O’Brien in Ireland’s richest Flat race to 14 wins. Sent off the 2/1 favourite, Santiago raced in midfield and improved to chase the leaers approaching two out.
He soon took things up under Seamie Heffernan and was ridden clear inside the final furlong. Despite strong pressure from stable companion Tiger Moth in the closing stages, Santiago held on for a head success.
O’Brien had the first four home in the Irish Derby, with the front two pulling five lengths clear of Dawn Patrol in third. Order Of Australia was a further 1 1/4 lengths back and completed the places for Ballydoyle.
Well-supported Jim Bolger runner Fiscal Rules, sent off at 15/2, was only fifth. Connections of the Joseph O’Brien trained filly New York Girl was seventh at 20/1.
O’Brien said the plan with Santiago is to keep him fresh for a tilt at more Classic glory in the St Leger at Doncaster in September.
Analysis: Tiger Moth one to take out of Irish Derby
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
Viva Santiago! Produced superbly by Heffernan, this was a far less comfortable success in Classic company than the Queen’s Vase win at Royal Ascot.
That being said, Santiago was down in trip and that is not usually an advantage with St Leger horses. The way in which Tiger Moth finished off the race, however, means he is an ante post bet to consider for Doncaster.
The bookmakers have Santiago at prices ranging from 2/1 up to 3/1 for the St Leger now. Tiger Moth is bigger and a top-price 10/1, however.
There is usually a strong Ballydoyle hand in the St Leger market. That is the benefit of having horses sired by Coolmore’s Galileo in the yard.
If Santiago and Tiger Moth got racing far out on Town Moor come September, it would be very interesting. Neither has any stamina concerns, but just a head between them doesn’t explain the price differential.
As noted during Royal Ascot, there are plenty more St Leger trials to come. O’Brien may yet have another iron in this fire, but already two leading contenders.
Just a day after 2018 St Leger hero Kew Gardens was retired to stud, Ballydoyle’s prospects for this year’s renewal look strong indeed.