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Los Angeles stars in reversing Epsom form for Irish Derby glory

Los Angeles stars in reversing Epsom form for Irish Derby glory
Los Angeles stars in reversing Epsom form for Irish Derby glory

Los Angeles put his name up in lights as he showed his class in a blockbuster conclusion to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Third behind Aidan O’Brien stablemate City Of Troy in the Derby, he had just over three lengths to find with James Fanshawe’s Epsom runner-up Ambiente Friendly, who was sent off the 6-4 favourite at the Curragh.

Los Angeles was one of four for O’Brien in Ireland’s premier Classic and it was the Ballydoyle quartet who dominated the front of the race in the early stages, with Euphoric, Grosvenor Square and The Euphrates giving their hotly-fancied stablemate the perfect tow into the race.

Heading into the straight Ambiente Friendly had raced strongly to the heels of Los Angeles, who was being asked to stretch for home by Ryan Moore, and the duo became embroiled in a titanic duel.

As much as Robert Havlin tried, however, he could not reel in the son of Camelot aboard Ambiente Friendly, who just gave way to another British raider, David Menuisier’s Sunway, for second in the closing stages.

Los Angeles had three-quarters of a length in hand at the winning post as he scored at odds of 13-8, a victory that gave O’Brien a record-extending 16th triumph in the race. Ambiente Friendly was another half-length away in third.

“We were delighted with him in Epsom and we thought he would come forward,” said O’Brien.

Los Angeles returns victorious after the Irish Derby
Los Angeles returns victorious after the Irish Derby (PA)

“Obviously he did go forward in Epsom and learned plenty, we were hoping that would be the case so he could come back here.

“Ryan gave him a great ride. It was a solid, even pace and it’s an unbelievable track. It’s great to have this race at this time of the year so all those horses can come together and you get to find out what’s there.

“He’s a big, hardy horse. He looks like he was a baby, but he is a Group One winner at two as well.

“He is progressing, definitely, and we’re really looking forward to him. Obviously he’s by Camelot so he has that class, he can quicken.

“Ryan said he had a lot more class than he expected and he quickened very well when he got there.”

Bookmakers were quick to promote Los Angeles to favouritism for the Betfred St Leger, although O’Brien said: “We came here thinking that he was going to turn into a Leger horse, but Ryan said he has way more class than that.”

Coolmore boss John Magnier was in attendance, and said of the Epsom form standing up: “That’s important, especially now that the French have changed their race (Prix du Jockey Club) and it’s not really the Derby anymore. It’s good to have the Epsom form held up here, really important I’d say.”

Some have suggested the Irish Derby should follow the French route and drop to 10 furlongs, but Magnier said: “That’s (mile and a half) the tradition and the history. It’s like the Belmont in America, they won’t shorten the distance.

“The thing is that you need to go from the top to the bottom, you don’t need all five-furlong races.”

On the winner he added: “Maybe Willie Mullins will be looking for him now! He is a good stamp of a horse.

“He won his Group One race as a two-year-old, he’s an improving horse, as Aidan has said. Maybe he’ll get even better.

“The race paid a compliment to him (City Of Troy), obviously. We’ll let the horse do the talking now. Aidan said what he said about him last year and we looked a bit stupid after the Guineas, so I don’t think we’ll say any more and let him deal with it from now on.”

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