Derby Lowdown: Lee likes French's claim, Menuisier hopes patience pays off for Lionel


The latest news ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

Friday, June 24, 2022
Billy Lee is hoping for rain ahead of French Claim's bid to win a first Group One for trainer Paddy Twomey

Billy Lee is hoping for rain ahead of French Claim's bid to win a first Group One for trainer Paddy Twomey


Billy Lee believes forecast rain could give Paddy Twomey's French Claim a real shot at a Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby upset, writes James Toney.

Twomey has never made any secret that his horse was a stayer, even making the St Leger in Doncaster a long-term target after a win on his seasonal reappearance at Cork.

"He ran a really good race in the trial at Leopardstown but perhaps we'd want a bit of rain to help him," said Lee.

"His form is very solid, he's very genuine and he could definitely be placed. He's going to be horse that gets possibly two miles next year. 

"There's a real buzz about the Curragh on Derby Day, it just means that bit more because of the history and prestige of the race. As an apprentice you just want to get a ride on the day."

Twomey is double-handed in his bid for a first Group One success this weekend. In addition to his first-ever Derby runner, he fires filly La Petite Coco at Sunday’s Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes, where she is currently market leader.

Patience is a virtue for Menuisier

British-based French trainer David Menuisier is a rising star of the sport, with big race wins around the world including France, Australia, Germany and even Sweden.

But a victory for classy colt Lionel in Saturday's showpiece would trump them all. An impressive win in Goodwood's Cocked Hat Stakes put him in contention for the Epsom Derby, but Menuisier and owner-breeder Philippa Cooper withdrew him claiming he was not 'grown-up' enough to win on Epsom's rollercoaster track. The Curragh, he believes, couldn't suit him better.

"He wants a nice big galloping track, nothing unconventional, and quicker ground," he said. "He's a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-a-half-plus horse.

“His jockey Jamie Spencer loves him and they've got a great partnership. The horse has really improved physically over the last year." 

O'Brien could get off to a flier in Curragh Cup

Aidan O'Brien's confidence in Tuesday - bidding to become the first filly to win the Irish Derby since 1994 - is obvious.

And he's got two great chances to land the Comer Group International Curragh Cup, the Group Two showpiece on the first day of the Derby meeting on Friday evening.

Wordsworth is the clear favourite and will be ridden by Royal Ascot’s top jockey Ryan Moore - having finished well off the pace in Royal Ascot's marathon Queen Alexandra Stakes, won by Willie Mullins's Stratum.

However, it could be Seamie Heffernan on Ballydoyle's second string Temple of Artemis that gets the weekend off to a flyer. He is getting plenty of weight from his rivals on his first start at this level.

No Weld runner but he predicts a classic Classic

Three-time winner Dermot Weld won't have a runner in the race after withdrawing Duke De Sessa at the 48 hour stage. But he's still looking forward to a race that holds special memories, such as Harzand's epic win under Pat Smullen in 2016.

"It's the centrepiece of Irish racing and there's always lots to look forward to," he said. "It's an excellent race this year with the winner of the Epsom Oaks and a horse that was very unlucky in the Epsom Derby too."
 

There's a real buzz about the Curragh on Derby Day, it just means that bit more because of the history and prestige of the race. As an apprentice you just want to get a ride on the day.
- Billy Lee 

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