Irish Derby throwback: Grundy's late charge proves too hot to handle

Peter Walywn's colt stormed to a brilliant victory in 1975 with four-time Derby winner Pat Eddery on board

Monday, March 23, 2020

Grundy would go on to win a thrilling King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot later that season

Pat Eddery knows all about what it takes to win an Irish Derby - but it all started with Grundy, writes Will Jennings.

The Newbridge-born rider guided no fewer than four horses to victory in The Curragh feature, triumphing in 1975, 1984, 1985 and 1993 to indelibly carve his name into Irish Flat racing folklore.

But it was on the Peter Walwyn-trained Grundy where his Derby journey began, holding off King Pellinore and Anne's Pretender with a thrilling late finish to reign supreme in County Kildare.

The three-year-old’s 1975 season started with a setback, suffering a training accident in March as he was injured by fellow colt Corby while plying his trade at Seven Barrows.

And the incident was followed by two sub-par performances at both Newbury and Newmarket, losing his unbeaten record in Berkshire - in the Greenham Stakes - before watching Bolkonski beat him to the line in the 2000 Guineas.



But great horses are defined by their resilience and Grundy showed that in abundance, as he ‘romped away’ - as reported in the contemporary press - in the Irish 2000 Guineas to kickstart his season at The Curragh with a bang.

And next came victory in the Epsom Derby in front of an adoring crowd of 750,000 - including Queen Elizabeth II - usurping Anne’s Pretender’s lead with a furlong and a half to go to win by three lengths in Surrey.

So the precocious raider arrived back in County Kildare with momentum, starting the Irish Derby as 9/10 favourite as he vied for his third Classic victory of the season.

It was to be no plain sailing, though, as Eddery found the runner struggling for pace throughout the opening exchanges and languishing in seventh as the field arrived at the home straight.

But soon came the late charge as Grundy demonstrated all his steel, rampaging round the outside to soar past the duo of Anne’s Pretender - again - and King Pellinore to win by a comfortable two lengths.

“Grundy’s coming on the outside… as they hit the last furlong and a quarter it’s Grundy out in front,” exclaimed the iconic voice of Michael O’Hehir from the commentary box.

“And it’s Grundy coming away - they’re inside the final furlong and there he goes! The king is in front - the king of the day is Grundy!”

While Grundy’s margin of victory was decisive it failed to do justice to the thrilling finale in Kildare, as Eddery engineered a brilliant late charge to stun the rest of the field and augment trainer Walwyn’s glittering trophy cabinet.

And that wasn’t Grundy’s final moment of magic that season, as the colt went on to beat Dick Hern’s Bustino in an unequivocal thriller in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Grundy’s victory in the Irish Derby marked Walwyn’s second in as many years, as he emulated his 1974 heroics with English Prince to be crowned king of The Curragh once again.

And victory in the feature also completed a Classic hat-trick for Grundy that only Santa Claus - in 1964 - could match, winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby for the purring pair of Walwyn and Eddery.

For Eddery, it only whetted his appetite for additional Curragh hegemony, as he channelled his newly-acquired taste for the winner’s enclosure once again with El Gran Senor, Law Society and Commander in Chief over the next 18 years.

It all started with Grundy, however, whose stunning late surge in 1975 made for an Irish Derby joust to savour.

Grundy’s coming on the outside… as they hit the last furlong and a quarter it’s Grundy out in front. And it’s Grundy coming away - they’re inside the final furlong and there he goes! The king is in front - the king of the day is Grundy!
- Michael O'Hehir

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