Derby hero '60-40' to go for Irish Derby

Marcus Tregoning has warned followers of his Vodafone Derby winner Sir Percy to hold their bets on the colt for the Irish equivalent on July 2.

Marcus Tregoning has warned followers of his Vodafone Derby winner Sir Percy to hold their bets on the colt for the Irish equivalent on July 2.

The once-beaten son of Mark Of Esteem just got up in a thrilling finish to the premier Classic at the weekend, edging out Dragon Dancer and Dylan Thomas by a short head and a head respectively, with the unlucky Hala Bek another short head away in fourth.

Stan James introduced the colt at a top-priced 11-4 for the Budweiser-sponsored contest at the Curragh, a price he shares with Hala Bek, while Coral have seen support for the latter and make him 2-1 favourite, with Sir Percy a 9-4 chance.

But speaking at a media day at his Kingwood House Stables just outside Lambourn, Tregoning said he was: “60/40” in favour of running Sir Percy in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on July 8.

The trainer is tempted by several factors to go to Sandown, including a desire to drop back to a mile and a quarter and not to subject Sir Percy to his first overnight stay in order to run in Ireland.

“While our minds are open and I have still to discuss a plan with his owners, I can see a lot of advantages in running him in another Group One over a mile and a quarter, rather than travelling him in order to take in another mile and a half race,” he explained.

“I am struggling to come up with any obvious older horses to take him on in the Eclipse but having said that nothing is set in stone.”

Tregoning hinted that Sir Percy would not have many more races this year as his owners Anthony and Victoria Pakenham are keen to race him as a four-year-old.

“If we keep him going next year then we would not race him massively for the remainder of this season and after his next run we could keep him for races such as the Arc at the end of the year,” he said.

“The Irish Derby is a possibility but so is the Eclipse and I would advise anyone wanting to back him for Ireland to wait.”

Sir Percy’s jockey Martin Dwyer was on hand to welcome him as he was paraded by his proud groom John Kennedy.

“I’ve done a lot of travelling and ridden winners in Japan, Hong Kong and Canada over the years but this was far in a way the best thrill of my career,” Dwyer said.

“Sir Percy has only been beaten once and that was by a horse (George Washington) who was a superstar on the day.”

Reflecting on the events of Saturday at sun-baked Epsom, Dwyer added: “It was a rough race where no quarter was given and everybody was hell bent on winning.

“My biggest concern was that he might be too free and for that reason I deliberately held him back as I didn’t want to set him alight too early.”

Kennedy believes Sir Percy will be even better returning to a right-handed track and coming round a bend, which he last experienced when winning at Glorious Goodwood last year.

He said: “For me he will be equally as good going right-handed, which is good news because most of the races open to him during the remainder of the year are on right handed courses.”

Budweiser Irish Derby betting:

Stan James: 11-4 Sir Percy, Hala Beck, 6-1 Darsi, 8-1 Dragon Dancer, Papal Bull, Dylan Thomas, 10-1 Best Name, 12-1 Aussie Rules, Art Deco, 14-1 Septimus, 25-1 Best Alibi, 33-1 Atlantic Waves, Winged Cupid, 50-1 Hazeymm.

Coral: 2-1 Hala Bek, 9-4 Sir Percy, 9-2 Darsi, 7-1 Papal Bull, 8-1 Dylan Thomas, Best Name, Dragon Dancer, 10-1 Puerto Rico, 16-1 Best Alibi.

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