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Double delight as Hurricane Lane triumphs in G1 Irish Derby


Hurricane Lane completed a Derby double for Godolphin as he collared Lone Eagle close home to win a thrilling renewal of the G1 Irish Derby at the Curragh, Ireland, on Saturday, 26 June.

The Charlie Appleby-trained colt had started his three-year-old season with two impressive victories, including the G2 Dante Stakes, before finishing third behind stable-companion Adayar in the G1 Derby at Epsom Downs earlier this month.

After showing good early speed, Hurricane Lane soon disputed third behind Matchless and Lone Eagle before being relegated to a close seventh after the first three furlongs.

The Godolphin runner was angled out to deliver his challenge for William Buick approaching the three-furlong pole and stayed on strongly to go second just inside the final quarter-mile, drifting towards the inside rail in the process.

Lone Eagle had already kicked for home under Frankie Dettori and held a four-length advantage a furlong and a half from home. Hurricane Lane made relentless headway on the leader throughout the final furlong, getting up in the final strides for a neck verdict, with the front two pulling seven lengths clear of Wordsworth in third.

Charlie Appleby said: “Coming into this race, I was confident that Hurricane Lane had gained a lot of experience from Epsom, when he was the most-fancied of our three runners. I think inexperience probably told that day – he came off the bridle a bit earlier than I expected at the top of the hill. He also lost both his front shoes, but we definitely saw a marked improvement in his homework afterwards.

“Mentally, you saw that he was on his A-game today and came into the race a more experienced and battle-hardened horse. He is a fantastic looking individual and it’s hard to fault him.

“I thought Frankie [Dettori] might have stolen the race on Lone Eagle coming down the hill, while the ground has tightened up over the last 24 hours, which was the only negative I could give to Hurricane Lane.

“I think there is more to come from him. We saw the improvement from Epsom to here and he is a big, scopey individual. We always felt that we didn’t have the sharpest two-year-olds going into last winter but we were hopeful that they would be a nice bunch of three-year-olds. So far, that is what they have proven and we can only hope that there can be some more improvement to come going into their four-year-old careers.

“We are heading to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Adayar to test his mettle against the older horses. If he happens to finish in the first three there, then obviously the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would come into conversations. If he dips below that, we will go back and take on the three-year-olds. We will sit tight with Hurricane Lane until Adayar runs at Ascot and then firm up some plans further down the line. They are great conversations to have and there is nothing better than trying to map out a Classic horse’s career.

“It’s great for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who has supported myself and the whole team so strongly over the years. People ask if there is pressure but it’s not pressure because he is a great man who knows that everyone is trying their best. We have a great team of horses together with a great team of staff and management. Everyone is so positive and trying to push forward. When the results come, it is very satisfactory.”

William Buick said: “Hurricane Lane has improved from Epsom and it was a great performance. Lone Eagle got first run and stole a bit of a march but, once my horse levelled out and got his momentum going, I always felt like getting there. It was a short margin but this horse gives you plenty of confidence.

“I think Hurricane Lane is still learning. The track suited him today, together with the beautiful, good ground. I thought it was a good performance because he is a horse who stays but he really quickened and picked up well today to run down the leader.

“Charlie and everyone at home had been delighted with him since Epsom. I rode him during the week and he is a horse who stands out – he’s a beautiful looking horse who is very calm with a great mind. He looked a picture today and a lot of horses can lose it going to the start here but Hurricane Lane took it all in his stride. You would think he was trained here. He is a horse with a great mind and obviously blessed with ability as well.

“I thought the first couple of furlongs were strong and then Frankie got into a position where he controlled the race. I had the opportunity to follow him but I was going to get into a bumping match because horses don’t like to be three-wide around here. I thought that I would get my horse into a rhythm and we were happy with where we were.

“Frankie left everyone else for dead when he kicked. Turning for home, my horse was getting organised and, once he levelled out in the straight, he picked up really well.

“He is a very honest, genuine horse and a great credit to the team at home. I am in a very privileged position to be riding these great horses. Charlie, Godolphin and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed have had an Epsom Derby winner and now they have an Irish Derby winner. It’s great to be part of it.

“I don’t know if the St Leger trip would potentially stretch Hurricane Lane. He is not slow and showed a different quality today in the way he quickened up. I think we will let the dust settle, enjoy today and see what tomorrow brings before making a plan.”